Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978)
Length at CB: 55 in. (139.7 cm)
Purchase, Costume Institute Benefit Fund, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, and Acquisitions Fund, 2013
Not on view
James, a piano prodigy, manipulated favorite arrangements of structural details into varied compositions, much like musical themes and variations. The neckline, halter, and cap sleeves of this lithe crepe dress are a riff on the designer’s predilection for splitting and overlapping pattern pieces and their extensions. As opposed to the soft bias flutes of its skirt’s flaring hem, the flattened pleats that loop around the neck and spiral over and under the cap of the arm introduce a crisp discipline to the dress’s otherwise languorous lines.