Art/ Collection/ Art Object
{{img.publicCaption}}

"Butterfly"

Designer:
Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978)
Date:
ca. 1955
Culture:
American
Medium:
silk, synthetic, metal
Credit Line:
Purchase, Friends of the Costume Institute Gifts, 2013
Accession Number:
2013.591
Not on view
Like the metamorphosis from caterpillar to shimmering butterfly, the woman who wriggles into the narrow body of this gown assumes the enchantment of a winged beauty. For the effect, James exaggerated the torso length of the sheath with “the highest bustline in 125 years” and layered transparent tulle in unexpected colors to accrue depth of tone and iridescent shimmer to the surrogate wings. The owner of this dress purchased it at Lord & Taylor for $1,250, the equivalent of $12,000 today. It was, according to her recollection, surprisingly comfortable to wear despite its eight-pound weight and posterior amplitude.
Marking: [satin ribbon label] "Charles James 1955"; [cotton twill label] "Perakos"
Related Objects

Coat

Artist: Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978) Date: early 1950s Medium: wool Accession: 1976.39 On view in:Not on view

Evening jacket

Artist: Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978) Date: ca. 1950 Medium: silk Accession: 1992.261.1 On view in:Not on view

Dress

Artist: Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978) Date: ca. 1946 Medium: silk Accession: 1992.261.2 On view in:Not on view

Coat

Artist: Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978) Date: 1956 Medium: wool Accession: 1994.233 On view in:Not on view

Coat

Artist: Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978) Date: 1952–56 Medium: wool Accession: 1995.117 On view in:Not on view