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Infanta James covered this dress with tiny jet bugle beads from its strapped sweetheart neckline to the low hip. He create the voluminous skirt with numerous layers of fine tulle, ranging from layers of black on the outside to interior layers of bright orange, pink, and yellow. The interior layers were barely visible when the wearer stood still, but flashed brightly when she moved. The design was intentionally flirtatious: these layers were technically petticoats, or underclothes, and not…

A Charles James for Samuel Winston black velvet and chestnut taffeta cocktail dress, mid 1950s. labelled and also with hand written tape 'Brodericle', the separate velvet bodice with sweetheart neckline, laced thongs at the shoulders; the stiffened skirt embroidered, beaded, sequined and appliquéd with rose trails and bows,

A Charles James for Samuel Winston black velvet and chestnut taffeta cocktail dress, mid 1950s. labelled and also with hand written tape 'Brodericle', the separate velvet bodice with sweetheart neckline, laced thongs at the shoulders; the stiffened skirt embroidered, beaded, sequined and appliquéd with rose trails and bows,

Cocktail dress by Charles James for Samuel Winston,... (Fripperies and Fobs)

Cocktail dress Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978) Manufacturer: (sample made for) Samuel Winston Date: 1952–53 Culture: American. Detail

The challenge of this design, as James noted, was to achieve an elegant effect despite the difficulty of mounting a voluminous flounce of stiff faille on a narrow sheath of supple black satin. An organza underlining supporting the satin and an interior horsehair roll causing the fountain-like upward lift of the tulip flounce contributed to its artistic resolution