Beyond Ball Gowns: Met Gala Honoree Made Practical Pieces, Too

On Monday, The Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrated the career of American couturier Charles James – first with an exhibit featuring the designer’s famous ball gowns and then with a white-tie and decorations theme at the Met Gala. But while Monday may have been all about James’s more extravagant designs, he’s also known for some pretty practical pieces. So before you get any anxiety about corset comebacks, take a look at the couturier’s other famed creations.

Charles James Original Designs

Image via Vogue

The Infinity Scarf
In 1935 Charles James decided to twist and sew together the ends of an everyday scarf. The updated accessory – known then as the Loop-a-Loop – was a huge hit and became a best seller for over two decades. So, snaps for James. I mean, I for one can’t imagine a casual weekend without this go-to scarf style.

The Wrap Dress
Before Diane von Furstenberg conceived of the side-tie dress, Charles James envisioned its ease. In 1931 he introduced the Taxi dress, a wrap-around number that could – in theory – be taken off in a cab.

The Down Jacket
In 1938 Charles James also invented the first fashionable down-filled jacket.  At the time, he described the modern design as “a technical challenge and a fantasy.” Today, we have James to thank for keeping us warm and in style.

By Jillian Hudon, Staff Writer

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May 8, 2014