It seems that everything was said and written about Charles James (1906-78), the British American designer who is considered the first true American couturier, who dressed all the most stylish and glamour American women of the 1930s, Marlene Dietrich; Millicent Rogers; and Austine McDonnell Hearst, to name a few. His work was largely examined in an exhibition at the Costume Institute of the Met, and he has been the subject of many monographs and studies, often highlighting James' innovations in techniques, structural design, and methodology. However, a new book Charles James: The Couture Secrets of Shape by Homer Layne, James' last assistant until his death and Dorothea Mink, fashion scholar and writer (published by Spector Books), demonstrates that there is still a lot to learn. It is focused on this aspect of his legacy, on the patterns and techniques which were documented by Layne. Even if you are not particularly interested in tailoring construction, this book is fascinating, demonstrating his talent as an engineer and innovator, creating simple forms in formulating the DNA of American fashion, in the most complicated methods.
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