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Stunning Ball Gowns and Smart Dresses: Your First Look at High Style

The Brooklyn Museum's exhibit of 20th century masterworks will be in San Francisco from March 14th–July 19th

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If you missed the glamorous Charles James exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last year, you have a second chance to see a selection of the Anglo-American couturier's greatest works starting this weekend at the Legion of Honor. High Style: The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection, opens to the public on Saturday, March 14th, with 65 looks tracking the evolution of fashion from 1910 to 1980.

While James pieces constitute a substantial portion of the work in the collection—nine dresses and five prototype muslins—the exhibition includes looks from the biggest names in western fashion: Christian Dior, Jeanne Lanvin, Madeleine Vionnet, Elsa Schiaparelli, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, Arnold Scaasi, Geoffrey Beene, and more.

High Style is another example of the Fine Arts Museums' solid work with fashion exhibits. Many of dresses are displayed on central platforms to give visitors a chance view details from every angle. Others, like a Schiaparelli evening look with an exposed zipper, are surrounded by mirrors to highlight unique design elements. James's showstopping Clover Leaf ball gown is encased in a giant glass box, so you can pace around it and gawk for hours.

Harold Koda, the Met's Costume Institute curator, shared anecdotes about some of the pieces during the press preview, telling the crowd that a young model once described a Charles James ball gown as "a lesson in beauty." With that in mind, class is now in session at the Legion of Honor.