Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Dinner suit, 1950
    Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978)
    Gray wool flannel, gunmetal gray silk
    Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. William Randolph Hearst Jr., 1964 (2009.300.352a,b)

    Unusual mixtures of fabrics and textures were integral to the James aesthetic. Here, a versatile combination of daytime gray flannel dressed up with silk faille allows for the transition from late day to evening. The skirt, which James referred to as his "wrap-over trouser skirt," adds another level of ambiguity in the service of functionality. A combination of skirt and pants, the innovative design wraps one leg like a trouser and crosses over in front to cover the other like a skirt. The cut accentuated the movement of the legs, imparting a sensual aspect to the otherwise businesslike fabric. James worked out this design in London in the 1930s.

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  • Dinner suit, 1950
    Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978)
    Gray wool flannel, gunmetal gray silk
    Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. William Randolph Hearst Jr., 1964 (2009.300.352a,b)

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