Today I FINALLY made it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute exhibit, Charles James: Beyond Fashion. And I can say without a doubt that Charles James is my favorite designer. I’ve been familiar with his work, but being able to see it in person was amazing. The “Please Do Not Touch” signs were very hard for me to obey, as I wanted to be able to feel the fabrics and see the structure on the inside of them (alas, I did not get to touch anything). The exhibit is a two-parter, one being in the new Anna Wintour Costume Center and the other being in a special exhibition gallery. Down in the Costume Center, you can see some really fabulous designs, an array of garments from cocktail dresses to dinner dresses to coats. By far this was my favorite piece in the room: However, the real thing to see is the special exhibition. I am not kidding when I say I actually teared up a little but looking at some of the gowns (yes, pretty things make me cry – this happens with landscapes and city skylines when I travel as well… yes I am an emotional dork sometimes!). In this main room, there are about a dozen spectacular Charles James gowns, along with a video to show you the basic construction. Visitors are able to walk around the whole gown and really take in the details. It was pretty amazing, actually. The first one you see when you walk I to the room is this beautiful red/pink dress, one that I am quite familiar with from books: Being able to see the draping and the structure up close was amazing. You can gawk at these these dresses in books but seeing them in person is incredible because you can study every little detail the camera doesn’t pick up. Another favorite was this one: I have to say, I have never been a fan of the sleeveless wedding dress, but if I were allowed to wear this, I would totally get married it in. Just look at the way the skirt is shaped! Here’s another one that features a similar skirt design but with amazing embroidery on the skirt. It was completely gorgeous in person, though the detail work doesn’t read entirely in the picture: These two both feature large two skirts, but are very different designs. I took their pictures by the mirror so I could get glimpses of both the front and the back in the photo: The shape and color of this green dress was amazing: Every garment had so much to take in – I was so glad pictures were allowed as they usually aren’t in these things, so I could really remember all the fabulous gowns. Can you imagine living in a time when you could just have these amazing gowns created for you? Sure, this still exists – Oscar gowns are custom-designed all the time, and the truth is that you can buy anything with enough money, but there’s something so special and spectacular about all of these. If I can get back to the museum before this exhibit closes, I definitely will, because it was well worth seeing. I could just stare at these details for hours.