A treat for haute couture fans: the newly renovated Costume Institute at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art kicks off with an inaugural exhibition of couturier Charles James (1906-1978). The Anglo-American designer’s methods were sculptural and scientific, and he created astonishing ball gowns and tailoring. His creations from the 1940s and 1950s are on display – the Four-Leaf Clover, Butterfly, Tree, Swan and Diamond − have attained legendary status in fashion circles.

Video animation help explain how his architectural dresses – body-hugging columns, figure-of-eight  skirts and spiral-cut garments − reshaped the female form. Born in London, James worked first there and then Paris before arriving in New York in 1940. He is now widely considered one of the most accomplished designers in the United States to have worked in the haute couture tradition.