Charles James, British, 1906 - 1978 (Designer)
silk velvet, silk faille and silk satin
Gift of Mrs. Eleanor S. W. McCollum
© Phoenix Art Museum. All rights reserved. Photo by Ken Howie.
"What to wear to a ball (perhaps the Fan Ball, November 29) this night blooming rose, one of the most beautiful in Charles James's new black and white evening collection. The bodice a long curving stem of black velvet above petals of black satin above 25 yards of blowing, billowing white taffeta. The cuttings that went into the flowering: any number of petticoats, each cut to a different shape." - Vogue , November 1, 1951
James designed the "Petal" dress in 1949 for Millicent Rogers, but did not present it to other clients and fashion editors until his 1951 "black and white" collection. James is best known for his sculptural ball gowns like this one.
It is constructed with a boned bodice and an elaborate skirt foundation of organdy and nylon horsehair underskirts that imposes shape onto a woman's body.