The Met’s Charles James Exhibition Tallies Record Attendance

Charles James Ball Gowns, 1948 Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Cecil Beaton, Beaton / Vogue / Condé Nast Archive. Copyright © Condé Nast

Despite mixed reviews from critics, the Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” exhibition was an undeniable blockbuster in terms of visitor numbers. According to the New York Times, the show attracted 505,307 viewers during its run from May 5 to August 10, making it the fourth most-trafficked Costume Institute show of the past 25 years, coming in behind 2011’s “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” (661,509 visitors), 2008’s “Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy” (576,901 visitors), and 2001’s “Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years” (559,902 visitors).

Given that this year marked the inauguration of the Anna Wintour Costume Center (formerly known merely as the Costume Institute), we can only imagine that fashion’s queen bee is quietly brimming with pleasure behind those oversize shades.

If you’re feeling regretful about skipping the show now that you know it was a hit, fear not. A hardcover catalog of the exhibition, featuring writings from designer Ralph Rucci and curator Harold Koda, is now available for purchase. But careful: while the looks inside are quite delicate and ladylike, according to James’s last assistant, Homer Layne, the book itself “weighs five pounds.”

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