Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978)
Gift of Elizabeth Fairall, 1953
Not on view
The American couturier Charles James was noted for his breathtakingly sculptural creations. A James gown, like this famous Four-Leaf Clover, was a masterful blending of romantic Belle Epoque elegance and sexy mid-twentieth-century glamour. His beginnings as a milliner informed his most spectacular effects, relying as they did on a layered infrastructure of nylon mesh, feather-boning, buckram, and horsehair braid. A James gown did not require hoops and crinolines to hold its form; it could literally stand on its own.