Met Ball 2014: Meet The Man Behind The Glamour

The Met Ball 2014 is just around the corner, and here at Look we can’t wait to see all the glamorous dresses that hit the red carpet. 

Each year, The Met Gala is held to celebrate the opening of the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s fashion exhibition. Remember last year’s Punk: Chaos To Couture theme? It saw the A-list step out in an array of grungy glam looks. (Who could forget Sarah Jessica Parker‘s mohawk hairstyle?) 

At this year’s Met Ball, held next Monday 5th May, VIPs will be decked out in creations befitting the ‘White Tie and Diamonds’ theme to toast this years exhibition, Charles James: Beyond Fashion. 

If you’re thinking ‘Charles who?’ right now, you’re probably not the only one. Despite being described as America’s ‘best-known couturier’ the British-born, New York-based designer (above) became something of a forgotten genius after his death in 1978 at the age of 72. 

‘Part of the reason we’re doing James is because, to the fashion specialist, everyone knows him, but to the audience at large, he is one of those names that, because he doesn’t have a surviving label or brand, is forgotten’, says Harold Koda, curator in charge at the Costume Institute. 

After designing in London and Paris, James moved to New York, and from the late ‘20s through to the ‘50s, legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland championed his designs, Cecil Beaton captured his creations on film and Marlene Dietrich became a devotee of his tulle, satin and velvet gowns. 

He can also be credited with inspiring Balenciaga and Dior thanks to his love of wasp waists and sculptural shapes and pioneering the off-the-shoulder dress silhouette. 

Iconic designer Balenciaga has also said, “James is not America’s greatest couturier. He is simply the world’s best.” Talk about high praise.

Today, Charles James style is hugely evident across the catwalks of Dior, Balenciaga and Oscar De La Renta

It doesn’t stop there either, with countless high street hot spots referencing James’ work in their current collections. Head to Topshop and you will spy multiple satin prom frocks, find full skirts galore at Coast and hit House of Fraser for off-the-shoulder fit and flare numbers. 

So, while you may not be lucky enough to bag a ticket to ‘fashion’s Oscars’, you can certainly be on the money when it comes to channeling the man who’s inspired it all.

By Lucy Wood and Gemma Gow

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