Couture Fashion Draping Lecture/Demo

(by Justine Parish) Monday, June 8 – Kunstgewerbemuseum Special Event- Homer Layne: My Life with Charles James at the Chelsea Hotel /In the 1970’s. A special thank you to Professor Johanna Michel of the Fashion Design Dept at the Hochschule für Technikund Wirtschaft Berlin for inviting our group to this wonderfully special evening with Homer Layne, who had been Charles James’ Assistant at the end of his life in New York City.

Homer Layne was instrumental in the organization of the exhibition in New York City last year “Charles James: Beyond Fashion”. The retrospective features approximately sixty-five of the most notable designs James produced over the course of his career, from the 1920s until his death in 1978.

Met Blog posts about Charles James:

Video of exhibition

3-D Animated videos of these 2 gowns.

Mr Layne discussed Charles James’ design process, specifically his use of sculptural, scientific, and mathematical approaches to construct revolutionary ball gowns and innovative tailoring that continue to influence designers today. After the image presentation Mr. Layne draped a portion of a cape design on the dressform showing the methods Charles James used for fashion draping and patternmaking.


Homer Layne was James’s last assistant, from 1971 through 1978. He attended a class James taught at Pratt Institute and later became his trusted assistant. Layne held onto James’s designs and archives for thirty-five years before they were acquired by The Costume Institute. Layne reveals heartfelt memories of the designer and discusses the extraordinary vision behind his designs and theories.



Homer Layne also showed samples of illustrations and drawings by famed fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez who often referred to Charles James as one of his mentors. Antonio, as he signed his work, offered to create illustrations of many of the couture gowns by James and many of these illustrations were in the Met Exhibition.

Antonio Lopez came to Art Center twice in the 1980’s for multimedia extravaganza fashion drawing workshops in Photo Stage II.  He brought fashion models, dancers and even a live tiger for students to draw.  One of the most famous of Antonio’s illustrations is the “Shrimp” dress by Charles James.  Justine Parish also knew Antonio and attended one of his workshops – 11 Days with Antonio @ Altos de Chavon – Dominican Republic.


The following are links to the Art Center Workshops as well as Justine Parish’s photos of the Altos de Chavon Workshop.

Antonio @ Art Center – Art Center Archives – 1983

Antonio @ Art Center – Art Center Archives – 1985

Antonio @ Art Center Part 1 1985

Antonio @ Art Center Part 2 1985

Antonio @ Altos de Chavon Wksp – Justine Parish




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