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For red-carpet glamour, the Oscars have nothing on the Costume Institute Gala, held May 5 at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in celebration of the just-opened exhibit “Charles James: Beyond Fashion.” James, a British-born designer known for his elaborate ballgowns of the1940s and 1950s, was a master of shape and seaming — and this knockout gown, designed by Zac Posen and worn at the gala by Chinese supermodel Liu Wen, is clearly an homage. The voluminous skirt has a sculptural quality to it, and yet still has movement; its seaming seems to create a series of seafoam-green waves. A work of art — though you hope she won’t have to squeeze into the back seat of a taxi. (Should you be headed to NYC this summer, the James exhibit is on display until Aug. 10. I’ll have to satisfy myself with getting a peek online:

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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