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On Fifth Avenue: Charles James–Beyond Fashion

This year, our MET Costume Institute windows on Fifth Avenue will pay tribute to MET Gala honoree Charles James–a master of craft. James is known for applying mathematical precision and architectural vision to his clothing, manipulating the proportions of his garments to create a sculptural effect and uniquely contour a woman’s body. In honor of him, we have tapped our own masters of craft to create seven exclusive one-of-a-kind gowns inspired by the couturier. Our curated list of designers includes Mary Katrantzou, Ralph Rucci, Libertine, Naeem Khan, Rosie Assoulin, Giambattista Valli, and Rodarte.

Naeem Khan regards James as “a master in engineering” and was inspired by him to create a gown featuring “multiple complicated techniques, including the precise placement of the points, the combination of fabrics, and the degradé of metal sequins.” In addition to the element

of precision, designer Rosie Assoulin wanted to emulate the “lightness” and dramatic scale of James’ garments in creating the “Charlie dress” with special emphasis on the different layers of the gown bestowing it with “organic volume, structure, and definition.” Kate and Laura Mulleavy also drew inspiration from “James’ iconic use of volume as well as his hidden usage of unexpected color.” With the architectural characteristic in mind, Ralph Rucci designed his gown with the “skirt attached to the bodice using many layers of emotions…first, the emotion of suspension…the massive skirt seemingly ready to tear from the bodice. The design of the gown are two separate panels crossed in a rolling connection–black faced with wisteria heavy silk satin Duchess. When the panels cross they are then lifted to the back yoke of the dress to form two splitting chestnut cones…a very James biomorphic conceit.”

For the first time, these exclusive one-of-a-kind gowns will be available for purchase directly from our window display. Please call 212 872 2743 for inquiries.

View the windows Monday, May 5 through Monday, May 19.

Follow @bergdorfs on Instagram, featuring guest-posts live from the MET gala on Monday, May 5 by designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte


Photographed by Ricky Zehavi © 2014