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Charles James, "Four-Leaf Clover" dress, 1953. Duchesse satin, lace, and silk shantung. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection, 2009; Gift of Josephine Abercrombie,1953, 2009.300.784. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

CINCINNATI, OH.- High Style: Twentieth Century Masterworks from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection opens at the Cincinnati Art Museum on Nov. 7. This landmark exhibition of garments and accessories from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art features the most influential European and American designers of the 20th century. 

High Style traces the work of early couturiers and the evolution of fashion and the fashion industry from 1900 to 1980. The exhibition will showcase a wide range of pieces on 65 mannequins, alongside 35 accessories, including hats and shoes, and related fashion sketches. 

A section of the exhibition devoted to the great American couturier Charles James includes 25 objects—nine ensembles, 12 sketches, and four prototype muslins that illuminate the technical mastery behind James’s highly constructed gowns. Four of these gowns are enhanced by digital animations, which analyze the form and structure of the garments. These were originally created by the architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro for the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition: Charles James: Beyond Fashion. 

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Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978), “Tree” Evening Dress, 1955, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., 1981 (2009.300.991). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Other highlights include Elsa Schiaparelli’s 1938 surrealist necklace of brightly colored tin insects, and a 1949 tiger-striped silk ball gown by Gilbert Adrian. Examples by some of the most important names in fashion including Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy and Halston will be on display. Additional attention will be given to the pioneering generation of American women designers working in the 1930s through 1950s.  

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Elsa Schiaparelli (Italian, 1890–1973), necklace, fall 1938, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Arturo and Paul Peralta-Ramos, 1955 (2009.300.1234)Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Gilbert Adrian (American, Naugatuck, Connecticut 1903–1959 Hollywood, California), Evening ensemble, 1949, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Janet Gaynor Adrian, 1963 (2009.300.1297a, b)Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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House of Givenchy (French, founded 1952, Hubert de Givenchy (French, born Beauvais, 1927), Evening dress, 1960, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Lauren Bacall, 1967 (2009.300.454)Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Madame Grès (Alix Barton) (French, Paris 1903–1993 Var region), Evening dress, 1969, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, Jr., 1988 (2009.300.1373). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

High Style is made possible by the collection-sharing partnership, initiated in 2009 by the Brooklyn Museum that established the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Brooklyn Collection, now a part of the Met’s Costume Institute, includes the most comprehensive assemblage of pieces by American fashion designers, and the definitive holdings of Charles James designs and archival materials. High Style celebrates this collaborative partnership by presenting selected highlights from the collection, which was formed in 1903 and carefully developed over the course of the 20th century.  

Organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, this exhibition was originally on view at the Brooklyn Museum in 2010, and was curated by Jan Glier Reeder, now consulting curator for the Brooklyn Collection at The Costume Institute. at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Recently on view at Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s Legion of Honor, the Cincinnati Art Museum is the only other venue.

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House of Worth (French, 1858–1956), "Féminité", 1940, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Ogden Goelet, Peter Goelet and Madison Clews in memory of Mrs. Henry Clews, 1961 (2009.300.305)Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Mme. Eta Hentz (American, born Hungary), Evening dress, spring/summer 1944, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Madame Eta Hentz, 1946 (2009.300.119). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Gilbert Adrian (American, Naugatuck, Connecticut 1903–1959 Hollywood, California), Dinner dress, 1948, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Janet Gaynor Adrian, 1963 (2009.300.319). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Fontana (Italian, founded 1943, Micol Fontana (Italian, born 1913), Evening ensemble, 1954, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Micol Fontana, 1954 (2009.300.1196a–d)Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Arnold Scaasi (American, born Montreal, Canada, 1931–2015)Evening ensemble, spring/summer 1983Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, Jr., 1991 (2009.300.1063a, b). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.