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Spectacular new Menil show draws a fashionable, artsy crowd — and some daring looks

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Sheryl Kolasinski, left, and Dorothee Helfenstein at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Sheryl Kolasinski, left, and Dorothee Helfenstein delight in James' designs. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Fotowerk Group
Vivian Wise and Sergio Morales at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Vivian Wise and Sergio Morales. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Fotowerk Group
Susan Sutton and Mickey Rosmarin at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Susan Sutton and Mickey Rosmarin. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Fotowerk Group
Greg Fourticq, from left, Sarah Dodd and Bill and Susanne Pritchard at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Greg Fourticq, from left, Sarah Dodd and Bill and Susanne Pritchard. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Fotowerk Group
Marci Rosenberg, left, and Jennifer Segal at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Marci Rosenberg, left, and Jennifer Segal. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Fotowerk Group
Mathew Wolf, from left, Ann Wolf and Brady Knight at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Mathew Wolf, from left, Ann Wolf and Brady Knight. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Fotowerk Group
The venue at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
The venue. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Fotowerk Group
Ayesha Shah and David Peck at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Ayesha Shah and David Peck. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Fotowerk Group
Susan Sutton at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Menil assistant curator Susan Sutton welcomes the crowd and talks about the relationship between the Menils and Charles James. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Fotowerk Group
Minnette Boesel, from left, David Bucek and Jim Furr at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Minnette Boesel, from left, David Bucek and Jim Furr. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Fotowerk Group
Chris Goins, left, and Michelle Avina at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Chris Goins, left, and Michelle Avina. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Fotowerk Group
Doug Lawing and Jean Ellis at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Doug Lawing and Jean Ellis. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Fotowerk Group
Clare Casademont, left, and Sharon Johnston at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Clare Casademont, left, and Sharon Johnston. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Fotowerk Group
Jeff Fort, from left, Molly Kemp and Paul Nugent at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Jeff Fort, from left, Molly Kemp and Paul Nugent. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Fotowerk Group
Sheryl Kolasinski, left, and Dorothee Helfenstein at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Vivian Wise and Sergio Morales at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Susan Sutton and Mickey Rosmarin at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Greg Fourticq, from left, Sarah Dodd and Bill and Susanne Pritchard at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Marci Rosenberg, left, and Jennifer Segal at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Mathew Wolf, from left, Ann Wolf and Brady Knight at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
The venue at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Ayesha Shah and David Peck at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Susan Sutton at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Minnette Boesel, from left, David Bucek and Jim Furr at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Chris Goins, left, and Michelle Avina at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Doug Lawing and Jean Ellis at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Clare Casademont, left, and Sharon Johnston at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014
Jeff Fort, from left, Molly Kemp and Paul Nugent at the Charles James exhibit preview party at the Menil June 2014

What: Preview party for the exhibition, A Thin Wall of Air: Charles James.

Where: The Menil Collection.

The 411: Fans of famed fashion designer Charles James and patrons Dominique and John de Menil got a first glimpse of the spectacular new exhibit featuring 14 creations that James made for Dominique, set amid furniture he designed for the couple and great works of art. "There seems to be a Charles James moment, and not just in New York," Menil director Josef Helfenstein said, referring to the big James exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute. "It makes both shows even more interesting."

Menil assistant curator Susan Sutton confessed that the Menil team experienced "quite a large learning curve" in mounting a show that combines fashion, furniture and artworks. She enlisted Tae Smith, an independent costume conservator who custom made the dress forms, and Lisa and George Sacaris (Lisa is a textile designer who dyed the linings of the fabrics and George is an artist and metal fabricator who produced the metal stands and bases in the show, which is on display through Sept. 7).

Who: Vivian Wise, who took best dressed honors in a sleeveless teal swing dress with black velvet band at the neck, and Sergio Morales, Alexandra and Brady Knight, Cliff Helmcamp and Jerry Jeanmard, Lynn Wyatt, Mickey Rosmarin, Chris Goins, William Middleton, who is writing the definitive biography on the Menils, Greg Fourticq, Craig Lidji, fashion designers David Peck and Arend Basile, Gary Tinterow and Minnette Boesel.

In from New York were Costume Institute curator Harold Koda and Chanel brand ambassador Amanda Harlech. 

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