While attending FIT, one designer who I’ve always loved was Charles James. A very interesting character for sure and he actually spent the end of his life living at the Chelsea Hotel which is very close to where I live now. Every now and again I am reminded of him by reading an article, as I did this monring in the April Vogue issue. I think he was brilliant and he was recognized as “America’s first couturier”. He was a master at cutting and sculpting gowns and in my opinion made dresses look like scuptures. The sad part of this story is that he died penniless and friendless at the Chelsea Hotel. In the most simplest way to put, Charles became so arrogant that he alienated everyone around him, friends and patrons. He designed only for those he thought worthy of wearing his dresses, or for those who had earned his respect, which were not many. Quoting James regarding Chanel: “After her use of jersey, what else has she produced?” In addition, because he was such a perfectionist, it would take him years to complete projects and he would miss deadlines and not be apologetic for it. “He incessantly smoked either some exotic Turkish cigarettes or pot.” ” An early morning fitting might produce Mr. James hungover and reeking of mouthwash he had used quite unsuccessfully to disquise last night’s vodka.” It makes me sad to think someone who had such an influence, died alone and in such a sad way but my beloved Mr. James certainly did not plant seeds of goodness in people as he did in clothes. And as he found out the hard way, clothes can’t really give you love. 🙁
Juicy Couture’s version of the Charles James image above.