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Nightgown and Bed Jacket, Met Museum, 1955
Silk Lingerie (American), Met Museum, 1952
1955,Charles James,”Butterfly” Dress (Ball Gown)
James’ ultimate version of the tightly fitted bustle dresses of the early 1880s, this dress emphasizes the feminine form with its body-conscious sculpted sheath and enormous bustle skirt that would move seductively with the wearer’s movement. The femininity is further emphasized by the satin side flanges that are not unlike a bird’s wing bone attached to a burst of tulle feathers. The dress weighs 18 pounds. Twenty five yards of tulle were used in its making.
Here’s something else that is fascinating to me! From the House of Dior, take a look at what you would wear under your evening dress in 1955 if you were wearing a Dior gown that lacked its own supportive structure. It’s amazing to think that what you didn’t see was just as complicated - if not more so - than what was shown!
Obviously another imperative step in the designing process, paper patterns are very rare to hold over half a century after they were created. This pattern from 1951 represents the first stage of Charles James’ iconic dress, The Swan.
The finished dress:
An intrinsic step in the couturier’s process, muslins, or toiles, are used to work out the outline and construction of the complicated gowns that designers like Charles James have imagined up. This one is a beginning step of his famous “Four Leaf Clover” dress from 1953.
The finished gown:
Farewell, Jane Russell (June 21, 1921 – February 28, 2011).
Christian Dior Haute Couture, Robe du Soir COURTE, 1955
I love the contrast of the draped neckline and the tailored bodice. This must have surely been bought by a museum.