Charles James (1906-1978) created this jacket for Mrs Oliver Burr Jennings. In 1975 he wrote a full description of the development of its design. It was constructed in the same manner as an eiderdown bed quilt. In certain areas of the garment there was a danger that the thickness would impede movement. James resolved this by diminishing the depth of the padding around the neckline and armholes. This jacket ranks among his most important works, along with the taxi dress and the Sylphide gown. It became a cult object in the 1970s, linked with voluminous padded coats. James longed for it to be translated into other materials - an expensive version in kid leather, for example, or a mass-market example in nylon stuffed with kapok for motorcycle- or ski-wear.
Although he was born in Britain, James worked as a milliner and custom dressmaker in New York between 1924 and 1929. In 1929 he opened premises in London. During the early 1930s he travelled extensively between London and Paris, establishing a Paris branch in 1934. Like Elsa Schiaparelli he was a friend of the Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí (1904-1989), and made use of Surrealist influences in his designs.