Masks required in Abakanowicz Research Center; optional for rest of Museum more

3.20 | Charles James: Genius Deconstructed

Brilliant, but often difficult, Charles James was one of the twentieth century’s most innovative fashion designers. While living in Chicago in the 1920s, James launched his career and established a loyal clientele. His dresses enchanted the fashion industry, but surviving examples of his work are so rare that his genius is not widely understood.

To get inside James’s mind, Museum staff sought to uncover the secrets held by some of his most iconic pieces. We studied them. Turned them inside out. Sketched, photographed, X-rayed, and recreated them. We deconstructed James. Now, it’s your turn. Explore the genius of Charles James.


The Chicago History Museum, a major museum and research center for Chicago and American history, is located at 1601 N. Clark Street. The Museum has dedicated more than a century to celebrating and sharing Chicago stories through dynamic exhibitions, tours, publications, special events and programming. The Museum collects and preserves millions of artifacts, documents and images to help audiences connect to the city and its history. The Chicago History Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of the Chicago Park District on behalf of the people of Chicago. The Chicago History Museum is a 2016 winner of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the highest award given to these institutions for their community engagement and having an impact on the lives of individuals, families, and communities.

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