The Metropolitan Museum of Art has officially announced its annual Costume Institute exhibit for next summer: “Charles James: Beyond Fashion. This year’s decision is especially significant as 2014 will mark the inaugural exhibition in the newly renovated space, which includes the 4,200-square-foot Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery. “It’s a much more dramatic space,” said Harold Koda, curator in charge of the Costume Institute. “It’s like a theatrical black box that is wired with state-of-the-art engineering.” And what was deemed worthy of such an inventive locale? The Anglo-American couturier Charles James, a man revered among students of fashion for his passion and technical aptitude, but less known to the general public—a fact that is sure to change with the upcoming exhibition, and its highly anticipated kickoff: the Met Gala. “It’s a lively theme,” said Koda. “We liked the idea of highlighting an important designer who has been forgotten in many ways.”
Female attendees are all set here. James, who died in 1978 and whose namesake label is now defunct, was known for his dramatic evening wear. So, for ladies, it’s “have glamorous jewel-tone gown, will travel.” For men, things are a little trickier. The dress code calls for “White Tie and Decorations.” According to Alan Flusser’s menswear bible Style and the Man, white tie is “the king of all male civilian garments,” a descriptor that should tip you off that we’re squarely in Fopland here.