Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978)
Purchase, Alan W. Kornberg Gift, 2013
Not on view
James considered this dress one of his most important designs, both commercially and artistically. Though difficult to manufacture—one side of the top and the spiral wrap-over skirt being made without seams—it was the first dress to be sold in a department store’s accessories department, along with sweaters, in sealed cellophane packages. It was made in two sizes and sold at Best & Co. in 1933–34 for twenty-two dollars. James conceived the spiral design in 1929, and this sample piece in a novel ribbed wool appears to date from before his commercial version for Best’s, exemplifying how the designer continuously refined his ideas.