Reviews for Michele Gerber Klein’s new book Charles James: Portrait of an Unreasonable Man: Fame, Fashion, Art:
“James seems to have met, befriended, loved, or reviled most of the 20th century’s great fashion and style makers, from Paul Poiret to Antonio Lopez, and this book is a who’s who of those glittering, fascinating characters. The impossible Mr. James emerges as one of the most compelling of them all.”
“Klein’s James…faithfully parallels the real man both inside and outside of the atelier, as she meticulously documents the period that became his legacy. Peppered with society drama, his patrician connections, and the financial and personal pitfalls that haunted him, she also memorializes the remarkable women that inspired the creative genius of James. The author draws on close to 40 hours of interviews—filmed by Anton Perich, with R. Couri Hay and James in 1977—shortly before his death. ”
WWD: Charles James: Portrait of an ‘Unreasonable’ Designer
Michèle Gerber Klein’s new biography looks at the designer who influenced generations of others, among them Christian Dior, Halston, Schiaparelli and Yves Saint Laurent.
By Lorna Koski on March 13, 2018 for WWD.
The New York Social Diary: “… I wouldn’t recognize a Charles James if I collided with a mannequin got up in one of his designs, but I loved this book…”
The Cut: “Michèle Gerber Klein examines the brutal, brilliant perfectionism of Charles James, known as ‘the grand master of American fashion.’”
The New York Review of Books: “This reader was actually rationing his reading time so that the enjoyment would be prolonged as long as possible.”
Publishers Weekly review: … the book focuses “on his relationships with industry insiders and socialites, such as Anne Armstrong-Jones and Dominique de Menil, both of whom served as James’s muses, Klein shows how James “set the standard for style in the Western World” for mid-20th-century haute couture. ” It also states that “James spent his last years writing letters to his former friends and associates—a handful of which are excerpted here. The result is a juicy account of the influence of an often-overlooked figure in the history of fashion.”
The Kirkus review: “A luscious exposé of a game-changing designer who revolutionized the fashion industry” and also says “Klein pushes the biographical genre by writing about her subject through the stories of those who surrounded him. Refreshingly, the result is neither a chronological nor traditional biography. ”