Menil Collection opening reception: A Thin Wall of Air: Charles James

Menil Collection

The first Menil exhibition to focus on the work of a fashion designer, A Thin Wall of Air: Charles James will pay tribute to the relationship between America's first couturier and two of his most devoted patrons, Dominique and John de Menil. The title of the exhibition comes from an observation by the photographer Bill Cunningham, a close friend of the designer and a fashion legend in his own right. For James, Cunningham once said, the possibilities of design were found neither in the human form itself nor in the material, but in the space between the body and the fabric — "a thin wall of air."

Organized by assistant curator Susan Sutton, the exhibition's tightly focused selection of works will include examples of revolutionary eveningwear, coats, capes and daywear — all custom-made for Dominique de Menil — as well as furnishings for the family's residence (a veritable intervention that stands today as James' only interior-design commission). Wall colors and works of art from the Menil's permanent collection will evoke not only the rooms of Menil House, but also the designer and client's mutual affinity for such artists as Yves Klein and Max Ernst.

Celebrate the exhibition's opening day with special guest Harold Koda, curator in charge of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, in a panel discussion titled "Dangerous Ideas: Charles James and the de Menils" in the foyer.

On view through Sept. 7.



The Menil Collection
1533 Sul Ross St.
Houston, TX 77006


Admission is free.
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