After Monday night’s Met Gala, rumors broke that Harvey Weinstein—media mogul and husband to Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman—was in talks to revive the Charles James label, whose founding designer is, of course, the subject of this year’s Costume Institute exhibition,Charles James: Beyond Fashion, opening on May 8. I had hoped the rumors were just that, and that James’ artistic legacy would not be muddied by modern interpretations and production pressures. However, Weinstein has now confirmed that he has inked a deal to license the house with the option to buy. “Charles James was one of the most incredible couturiers in the history of fashion, and this label deserves to be a household name in the same ranks as Chanel, Dior, and Oscar de la Renta,” he said in a statement. Ms. Chapman and her brother, Marchesa CEO Edward Chapman, will serve as creative consultants.
No doubt, it will be interesting to see where the trio takes the label, but the revival won’t be easy. In order to honor James’ vision, the new designs will need to be thoroughly forward-thinking, impeccably handcrafted, and not overtly referential. After all, James was obsessed with the future and disapproved of nostalgia. “There is no going back,” he’s quoted as saying. “Study the past to know why, not what, and from the why, dream and do.” Weinstein and the Chapmans will need to heed these words if they’re to bring the brand back with integrity. Here’s hoping the revival succeeds in making James a household name for the right reasons.