Monday, July 21, 2014

My Date for the 2014 Met Gala was Charles James

Well, not exactly - but my date for the Met gala did wear a Charles James periwinkle blue silk chiffon gown from the 1930s.  Do you know what the chances were of someone actually wearing a Charles James dress to the the Charles James exhibit at the Met?  Well, as the saying goes a million to one.  It is all the more surprising because Charles James, famously difficult, loathe to even actually give his dresses to the clients who had paid for them, had a remarkable but small production.  There simply are not many Charles James pieces out there.  They rarely come up for auction, are seldom even seen and there are very few still privately owned.

But my date, my friend and vintage haute couture collector, Regina Drucker, wore not, only a Charles James gown but an extremely rare and exceptionally early 1930s gown.   Regina, for obvious reasons, is my frenemy because I love her very amazing collection and every so often, we discover we have been bidding against each other at an auction for the same item - great minds think alike!

Regina was recently featured in the Financial Times in an article on Conceptual Fashion (you can read it here).  Regina collects important  pieces by Issey Miyake and had bought an early 1970s Miyake linen jumpsuit from RARE vintage.  She obviously has very good taste ; )

The Financial Times referred to 'wearer-collectors' and I like that term very much.  You can be collector  and a wearer but being a wearer comes with some responsibilities.  Sometimes the wearer-collector even saves a vintage piece that some may have felt was not worth the trouble but as you will see with Regina's Met gala outfit, it was very well worth the trouble and challenges.

So Regina wore an early 1930s Charles James periwinkle blue silk chiffon dress with streamers.  She paired it with a 1960s Balenciaga coat the color of fallen autumn leaves and a Stephen Jones feathered head piece and vintage Manolo Blahniks.

At The Mark, a few hours before the Met gala...

A detail of the back of the dress with its distinctive and thoroughly unconventional cowl like back with the streamers pulling through...

Here is a detail of Charles James' signature seaming - he did things no other designer would do - the angled seaming slopes diagonally from the hip to the center and then straight down:

Front detail with its folded over edge making a shawl collar:

And a note on Regina's Balenciaga coat which she had restored by a priest, by hand... it looks like feathers but it is actually organza with a frayed edge and each organza curl was heated and curled by hand to resemble a feather - there are hundreds and hundreds of these organza curls!  And it is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful!

The pale seashell pink Stephen Jones feather headpiece you see in the photo below is flecked with little crystals and was a purchase from RARE vintage.  You see, Regina does have very good taste!

Regina was a smashing success in her James and Balenciaga, Stephen Jones ensemble, with Hamish Bowles, Stephen Jones, Alber Elbaz and more all running up to her...

I love you Regina and thank you for being my date, we had a grand time! Juliana

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