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Charles James Focus of Chicago Exhibit

The work of couture designer will be showcased this month at the Chicago History Museum.

CHARLES JAMES ON DISPLAY: The work of couture designer Charles James will be showcased this month in Chicago as “Charles James: Genius Deconstructed,” an exhibit featuring 15 of James’s designs, opens at the Chicago History Museum Oct. 22. The exhibit not only features several of his elaborate gowns, including his butterfly dress, which weighs 17 pounds and is made of 25 yards of peau de soie and nylon netting, but full-scale reproductions of some gowns’ inner structures for viewers to explore.

Original line drawings by fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez, who collaborated with James near the end of his career, will also be displayed.

To kick off the exhibit, the History Museum’s Costume Council will revive its black tie ball on Oct. 21, with Helen Harvey Mills, whose mother was a muse to James, serving as the evening’s honorary chairwoman. Ralph Rucci will be presented with the Costume Council’s Award for Design Excellence. It’s fitting that Chicago would house the exhibit since James, who started as a milliner, opened three shops in Chicago before moving to New York in 1930.

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