By  on March 31, 2014

NEW YORK — “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” is opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 8; its accompanying book of the same title, by The Costume Institute’s Harold Koda and Jan Glier Reeder, demonstrates just how inspiring James was, and how much “beyond” clothes that influence goes.

It chronologically details the life of the Anglo-American couturier, from his 1906 birth into a life of privilege at the family’s Surrey, England, estate through his success and later years when he served as a consultant to Halston. It also, through illustrations, photography and detail shots of garments that will be on display, gives a view into the designer’s complex mind and how, aesthetically, he was a precursor to Christian Dior and Cristóbal Balenciaga. Many of the looks, particularly the evening gowns, still feel contemporary — a blueprint, one could say, to today’s red carpet dressing.

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