Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978)
Gift of Mrs. William Woodward Jr., 1964
Not on view
In the postwar period James was increasingly drawn to the muted sophistication of contrasting materials of differing luster. In this evening dress’s monochromatic duet of blacks, the dull sheen of jersey juxtaposes with the high shine of satin. Only after the eye has absorbed the nuanced surface contrasts is the rich geometry revealed. James eliminated the side seams, and the angled satin panel that constitutes the front bodice wraps over the shoulder to form an oblique panel across the back, resulting in an astonishing exposure of skin. Bill Cunningham likened this spiral of inky black fabrics to a stick of licorice.