(L) Charles James in studio with model. (R) Zac Posen backstage at NYFW, 2014.
When Zac Posen ended his NYFW show with Naomi Campbell in a sculptural metallic pink confection, images of the supermodel fluttering down the runway flooded social media feeds. The casting partnered with the ultimate red carpet gown was brilliant because it was a contextually vintage move for the designer. It was Campbell who first got Posen noticed in 2000 when she wore one of his dresses, exposing his designs to many fashion insiders. The finale also harkened to some of the same aesthetic qualities that constantly draw comparisons between the New York based designer and great American couturier, Charles James. Now, multiple fashion news outlets are reporting the unconfirmed rumour that Posen has been tapped to consult for the soon-to-be-revived Charles James label. Harvey Weinstein bought the rights to the prestigious fashion name on the same day as the MET Ball last year. Weinstein’s wife and Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman along with her brother Edward and Marchesa co-founder Keren Craig are all being retained as creative consultants for the label.
On the one hand, the news is exciting and on the other, expected. Zac Posen is the obvious choice. Through his aesthetic, Posen has drawn the comparison to the great couturier for much of his career. James was hailed for not only being far ahead of his time, but a perfectionist, a master at dressing women’s figures. He was the inspiration to iconic designers, among them Christian Dior, Balenciaga and Halston to whom he was mentor.
Outside of his sculptural designs and luxurious pieces, James is an iconic designer for his innovation. A visionary of his time, the couturier created patterns for designers to reinterpret decades later. To revive the name of one of the most regarded American designers is to re-align the vision of a brand rooted in innovation. If there were one designer up to the task, logically, it would be Posen alongside the eveningwear masterminds behind Marchesa. The question remains, provided the rumours are true, if Posen will be able to do what is expected while balancing the unexpected element of innovation synonymous with James’ brand.
(L) Naomi Campbell at Zac Posen F/W 2015. (R) Charles James's, model Austine Hearst, 1953.
(L) Dorian Leigh wearing Charles James, 1950s. (R) Zac Posen Pre-Fall 2013.