Saturday, November 9, 2013

History's Runway: The Tree Dress , 1955

"The Tree Dress"
Charles James, New York, 1955
From the Cecil Beaton Collection at
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Inspired by the cuircase bodices and bustles of the 1870s, this gorgeous and unusual evening dress was designed for Mrs. Ronald Tree by Charles James (1906-1978) in 1955. The British-born, New York and London based designer was intrigued by the cut of historical dress and sought new ways to create gowns inspired by historical pieces. He excelled in the creation of sumptuous, full-skirted evening gowns which were masterpieces of modern construction.

Now part of the Cecil Beaton collection at the V&A, this evening dress is constructed of silk taffeta, consisting of an outer taffeta shell of a bodice, and two form-hugging ruched skirts over a full lower skirt. The hem has a deep facing of bright peacock blue silk taffeta which would have been seen only when the wearer of the dress was in motion.

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