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Charles James

Christian Dior described him as the inspiration for the "New Look." Salvador Dali called his work "soft sculpture," and Virginia Woolf exclaimed, "He is a genius." As George Bernard Shaw tells us, only unreasonable men change the world. This portrait of the life and times of Charles James - winner of two Coty awards, and the subject of a 2014 Metropolitan Museum of Art show - draws on the glamour of Europe in the 1930s, and the dazzle of New York City from the '40s through the '70s as it travels with James from his birth to privilege in England in 1906, and follows his career through his complex and turbulent relationships with exceptional women such as Elsa Schiaparelli and Eleanor Lambert, ending with his penurious death in New York's fabled Chelsea Hotel. As engrossing as a novel, as dramatic as grand opera, James's story will provoke, rivet, and inspire.
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About the Author

Michele Gerber Klein is the founder of joan vass U.S.A. and is now Vice President of the Liberman Foundation. She has written about art, fashion and arts de vivre for a wide variety of publications. She has served on the boards of the Dia Foundation for the Arts, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Museum, The Museum at FIT, The Alliance Francaise, New Arts Publications, Casita Maria, Chez Bushwick, the Brooklyn Rail, The New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation and Fondatzione Bogliasco. She chairs the Whitney Museum of American Art's library committee and is a member of the Architecture and Design and the Photography Acquisition Committees at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan and the Photography Acquisition Committee at the The Whitney Museum of American Art.


"A luscious expose of a game-changing designer who revolutionized the fashion industry. In her debut biography, Klein, the founder of joan vass USA, introduces readers to Charles James (1906-1978), the notoriously fabulous British-born fashion designer who sought to incorporate countless areas of study into the art of fashion. Self-described as "a legend because my work is too little known," James started making waves in the fashion industry in the 1930s. "There were never more than a handful of Charles James matrix designs," writes the author. "But each one is a masterpiece, developed with painstaking care and slowness, and so beautifully calibrated that one small change could throw everything off balance." This close attention to pristine detail is what set James apart from the other aspiring designers. More specifically, it was due to his wild imagination for new ways of stitching fabric together and his wide social network. Klein organizes the chapters according to specific people who influenced James or with whom James went into business, drew inspiration from, or loved. Interestingly, Klein pushes the biographical genre by writing about her subject through the stories of those who surrounded him. " --Kirkus Reviews

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