James worked as an inventor who developed his ideas with constant revision and refinement. The only piece in this gallery dating from his early career in Europe, this pivotal design represents his initial experimentation with bodice and skirt understructures—signature elements of his postwar ball gowns. The spoked understructure of the skirt, from which the dress gets its name, found ultimate expression in his boned Clover Leaf shaped skirts and domed Lampshade ball gowns. A stiff grosgrain foundation, rather than mere vertical boning, supports the bodice of this dress—his first strapless and a very early example of the style. This innovation became a characteristic of his much-acclaimed, anatomically fitted post-war examples.


  • Title: Evening dress
  • Creator: Charles James
  • Date Created: 1938
  • Physical Dimensions: Length at CB: 57 in. (144.8 cm)
  • Type: Evening dress
  • External Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Collection Online
  • Medium: silk
  • 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: 2013.402

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