Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978)
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Millicent Huttleston Rogers, 1949 (2009.300.742)
The Charles James holdings in the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection include an extraordinary group of sewn muslins and flat patterns that represent James' design process from original concept to the finished garment. At his behest, three of his most devoted clients, Millicent Huttleston Rogers, Mrs. John (Dominique) de Menil, and Mrs. William Randolph (Austine) Hearst Jr., along with several others, donated this supporting material along with the actual garments. In some cases, the garments are accompanied by materials that represent all of James' design phases—two flat patterns (paper and muslin) and two sewn muslins (half and full).
This half-sewn muslin represents James's "Ribbon" dress, one of his most intricate designs (2009.300.1187). A significant feature of its construction is the tapering skirt panels that are twelve inches wide at the hem and converge to less than one-quarter inch at the side waist.