Designer: Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978)

Date: 1951

Culture: American

Medium: silk, wool

Dimensions: Length at CB (a): 22 1/4 in. (56.5 cm)
Length at CF (b): 26 1/2 in. (67.3 cm)
Length at CB (c): 20 1/2 in. (52.1 cm)

Credit Line: Gift of Eleanor Searle Whitney McCollum, 1975

Accession Number: 1975.246.5a–c


Inspired by the fall-winter 1949 collection of Christian Dior in its zigzag of satin blades and derivation from menswear, the James theater suit is a tour de force of a cashmere face articulated by the rust-orange satin trim that curls around like an autumn leaf. In 1950 and 1951, James was exploring stiff and jutting collars in dressmaker suits and blouses, often creating the effect of a soaring modern architecture, as in this cocktail suit.