The exhibit is split into two sections; on the first floor in the Special Exhibition Galleries and on the ground floor in the Costume Institute’s Anna Wintour Costume Center. Already being on the ground floor, we wove our way through the crowds and passed into the first part of the exposition. The first thing you notice is that it is in near total darkness with just small spot lights illuminating Charles James works of fashion. I did not have my DSLR with me but did use my iPhone and my favorite fish-eye lens. There was no flash allowed and I was surprised at how well the little camera inside my phone worked. The images are very noisy and soft but, that was only to be expected and I was able to compose to my heart’s content not having to worry about lighting and exposure, only to point and shoot.
What makes these productions of Charles James so interesting is their creation; they were not just designed and sewn together but were constructed almost like pieces of architecture. As you look at each dress your eye cannot help but follow the detail in the line, curl, curve, fold, angle, swirl and tuck of material. You found yourself admiring them as you would a sculpture. The dresses were made in two or three pieces and then fitted together to create a glamorous “frock” to be worn by rich and famous women.
Leaving the Anna Wintour Costume Center we passed through the European Sculpture and Decorative arts section marveling at the mind-boggling emotive statuary and entered the second and final part of the exhibit. Here there were exotic looking dresses, and angular suits that could have been worn in the 1950’s or the 1915’s. These models were not as dazzling in design as the ball gowns but, they did impart a distinguished glamour all their own.
Leaving the world of couture behind us we briefly passed through the Egyptian exhibit and I grabbed a few quick parting shots as we exited the museum for lunch at a little French cafe.