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Iconic Looks from American Couturier Charles James This year’s Met Gala is dedicated to American couturier Charles James, who was without question one of the most important designers of the 20th century. During his 50-year career, which began in the ‘20s and lasted until his death in 1978, he was best known for his sumptuous ball gowns — voluminous, waist-cinching numbers so sweeping they practically defied gravity. Here, we’ve highlighted some of his most indelible creations to prep you for the much-anticipated evening in his honor.