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Charles James | c. 1955

The inspiration for this elegant evening dress probably came from cuirasse bodices and bustle skirts of the 1870s. James was fascinated by the cut of historical dress and explored innovative new forms of garment construction, such as spiral draping. His forte included the creation of luxurious, full-skirted evening gowns. He looked on dresses as works of art, as did his customers. Born in Britain, James (1906-1978) worked as a milliner and custom dressmaker in New York in 1924-1929. In 1929 he opened premises in London, and a Paris branch in 1934. In 1939 he returned to New York and went on inventing and reworking toiles and constructing extraordinary clothes in lavish fabrics for a devoted clientele.

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