Charles James is back with a vengeance. First, the long-forgotten couture designer – often described as America's first couturier – was chosen as the subject of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's annual fashion exhibition, with celebrities at the Met Gala showing up in elaborate ball gowns to celebrate his work. Now one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, film producer Harvey Weinstein, is in talks to resurrect the label.
According to Page Six, Weinstein has signed a licensing deal to "breathe new life into the Charles James name" and "create an exclusive couture house", which will include other licenced products such as a fragrance. The Weinstein Company will also have an option to buy the brand entirely from the designer's estat, which currently belongs to James's children, Charles Jr. and Louise.
It might seem odd that a Hollywood bigwig would be interested in bringing a couture label back from the dead, but Weinstein has strong links to the fashion world – not least because his wife is Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, and her brother Edward is the brand's CEO. Both Georgina and Edward will act as creative consultants to the new Charles James house. In 2007, Weinstein also partnered with Sarah Jessica Parker and other investors to buy Halston.
The Charles James name died in 1978 when James passed away at 72 years from pneumonia and heart disease. He was heavily in debt and surviving off the occasional commission from a loyal high society client – and if you want to bring a brand back from the dead, you better have the cash to fund it. It helps that Weinstein is rich: the executive producer behind Pulp Fiction and Shakespeare in Love is worth about $150 million. So expect a Charles James ball gown to be resurrected in a store near you.
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