early 1950s

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

James’s approach to dressmaking as a sculptor envisioning a design in three-dimensional terms is evident in the construction of this coat. Each side is composed of two main pieces—the body and a deep raglan sleeve—that theoretically could be cut in one piece, enveloping the body and arm in a single gesture. Like Paul Poiret’s capacious cocoon coats of the 1910s that were cut without the complication of a separate sleeve, the James design is also meant to conceal the figure completely. James claimed that the cut eliminated the need for fundamental changes in proportion, no matter his client’s shape, size, or height.

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  • Title: Coat
  • Creator: Charles James
  • Date Created: early 1950s
  • Physical Dimensions: Length at CB: 41 in. (104.1 cm)
  • Type: Coat
  • External Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Collection Online
  • Medium: wool
  • Culture: American
  • Credit Line: Purchase, Costume Institute Benefit Fund, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, and Acquisitions Fund, 2013
  • Creator Death Date: 1978
  • Creator Birth Date: 1906
  • Accession Number: 2013.38

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