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Charles James Evening Cape | Met Museum | c. 1944
Charles James was a master.
Charles James Dressing Gown, Met Museum, 1944
Charles James Wedding Dress, V&A Museum, 1934
Charles James (one of the very best, in my humble, fashion-loving opinion) Evening Gown, Met Museum, 1936
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.
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: