Charles James



Charles James: Beyond Fashion, commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2014, examines the work of the legendary twentieth-century Anglo-American couturier Charles James, tracing the evolution of the designer’s oeuvre over the course of his prolific career. In exploring his design process, the exhibition focuses on the sculptural, scientific, and mathematical strategies that James used to construct the revolutionary haute couture gowns that continue to influence fashion designers today. Featuring 75 of James' most notable designs, the exhibition design examines the split between glamour and technique in James’ work through an integrated system of digital media and robotic optical devices. With detailed computer models constructed from 3D scans and X-rays, as well as research undertaken in collaboration with conservators and curators at the Costume Institute, DS+R created original animations that analyze and illustrate the unique construction of each garment. In concert with each analytical animation, robotic arms with video cameras and digital light projectors scan across the garments, illuminating the areas being detailed on-screen. The animated analyses illustrate James’ consummate sense of anatomy in creating dresses that masterfully sculpted and reconfigured the female form. Charles James: Beyond Fashion was exhibited in two locations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art—the new Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery in the Anna Wintour Costume Center, and special exhibition galleries on the museum's first floor—from May 8 to August 10, 2014.

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  • Clover Leaf Ball Gown animation still
Project information
Location         The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, United States
opening8th May 2014closed10th August 2014
Partner-in-ChargeElizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio
Project LeaderKumar Atre and Jaffer Kolb
Project TeamBryce Suite,Jack Solomon,Alexa Tsien-Shiang,Matthew Johnson,and Andreas Kostopoulos
External credits
Bounding BoxDigital Content Production
Parallel DevelopmentRobotics
Brooklyn ResearchSystems Integration
    Photography by Matthew Monteith