Inspired by the discovery of long-overlooked interviews conducted just before his death, this is the first biography of the visionary fashion designer Charles James.
Christian Dior described him as the inspiration for the “New Look.” Salvador Dalí called his work “soft sculpture,” and Virginia Woolf exclaimed, “He is a genius.”
Michèle Gerber Klein's portrait of the life and times of Charles James draws on the glamour of Europe in the 1930s and the dazzle of New York City from the ’40s through the ’70s as it travels with James from his birth to privilege in England in 1906 and follows his career through his complex and turbulent relationships with exceptional women such as Elsa Schiaparelli and Eleanor Lambert, ending with his penurious death in New York’s fabled Chelsea Hotel.
As engrossing as a novel, as dramatic as grand opera, James’s story provokes, rivets, and inspires.
“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." — Interview Magazine
"Klein relies on her formidable fashion knowledge..." — The New York Times Book Review
”Michele Gerber Klein’s 2018 page turner follows the arc of the couturier’s life across his relationships with the women who were closest to him." — Bookforum
Michèle Gerber Klein is an author and philanthropist.
Her definitive biography: Charles James Portrait of an Unreasonable Man, published by Rizzoli ex Libris in 2018 was widely well-received and The Financial Times who found the biography “uproarious” named it a BEST BOOK of the year. Her new work A Visible Woman, to be published by Harper Collins in 2024, is the riveting life story of Gala, Salvador Dalí’s wife, partner, and muse. A charismatic, uninhibited; very human woman she was a force majeure in pre-war Paris’ legendary Surrealist circles where she was idolized as ‘the mother of Surrealism’. As Dalí’s great love, artistic collaborator, and the genius behind his vast fortune, Gala inflected the cultural history of the twentieth century.
Since 1997, Michèle Gerber Klein has been the Vice President of the Bertha and Isaac Liberman Foundation. In 2011, Michèle was the recipient of the Mann Foundation’s Woman of the Year award for her work in fashion and philanthropy.
Michèle Gerber Klein was born in New Mexico and raised in New York where she attended the Lycée Français de New York and graduated from The Brearley School. After Bryn Mawr College where she earned a B.A. degree in English literature, she returned to New York where she founded joan vass U.S.A., an award winning collection of popularly priced, elegant knit wear with Coty Award winning designer Joan Vass. She currently lives and works in Manhattan.