The annual Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala taking place on May 5 is one of New York City’s biggest social events, and the 2014 theme couldn’t be more different than its 2013 punk predecessor. This year’s White Tie theme speaks to the fairy-tale aesthetic—think ball gowns and gloves—of 20th-century Anglo-American couturier Charles James, the subject of the institute’s annual fashion exhibit for which the gala serves as a fund-raising kickoff party.
Charles James: Beyond Fashion will open to the public on May 8 and run through August 10. It will examine the career of James, who was born in London in 1906 and whose position took him to Paris and New York City, where he quietly designed for a renowned clientele. Seventy-five of his most notable works, from the 1920s until his death in 1978, will be on display.
The fashions expected to be worn on the red carpet on Monday night should mirror the sensibility of 1940s and 1950s ball gowns, tuxedo tails, and big jewels. Watching along at home? This could be your chance to break out that poofy prom dress you wore in the 1980s, and dress it up with big, classic-looking bling like Rivière necklaces, pearl sautoirs, hair jewels, or cocktail rings topping gloved hands. The gala’s influence in the jewelry world is well documented thanks to the proliferation of jewelry motifs and lines that mushroom after the event airs. Check back on Tuesday for a report on the styles of the night, and see the Style 360 blog on Wednesday for a comprehensive list of who wore what jewels.