James, Charles

   Born in England, James's family relocated to Chicago where he began designing millinery before eventually moving to New York. He is credited as being America's first highly respected designer to work in the tradition of haute couture. To be dressed by Charles James indicated both wealth and a taste for the nontraditional dress. His greatest years of designing were between the late 1920s and late 1950s. In 1933, he reopened his business after going bankrupt and produced some of the most intriguing pieces, which earned him the respect of his peers, such as Coco Chanel, Cristobal Balenciaga, Christian Dior, and Paul Poiret. In 1937, James designed down-filled evening jackets creating a soft sculpture, as so described by artist Salvador Dali. An international childhood and a passion for the arts served as the foundation for James to spend his life drawn to fashion. Unfortunately, his business decisions often impacted negatively on his success. By 1958, his professional career as a designer came to an end.

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. .

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