Monday, June 18, 2012

The Charles James Tree Dress

A 1955 Charles James "Tree" Dress of silk taffeta and netting.

Ever since seeing the wonderful Charles James dresses on display in 2010 at the Brooklyn Museum as part of American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection, I look for every opportunity to see more of his work. So I felt very lucky to be able to photograph (over and over) this pink Charles James “Tree” dress at The Museum at FIT now on view as part of the exhibit Fashion, A-Z: Highlights from the Collection of The Museum at FIT, Part Two. James often repeated designs, such as the Tree dress, in different colors, so I have also seen this dress in drop dead red, with shoulder straps, now owned by the Met, and FIT owns this design in another pink, a gold, and a green.Wouldn’t it be fun to see all those Tree dresses lined up in a row?

As for the name of the dress, I found this in the book High Style: Masterworks from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, written by Jan Glier Reeder, who curated the 2010 Brooklyn Museum exhibit:

“Deploying a double entendre, James named this design for one of his clients, Marietta Peabody Fitzgerald Tree, mother of the model Penelope Tree, and also as a reference to the plant form, which the silhouette, uprooted, resembles.”

James thought of himself as a sculptor, architect, and engineer of dresses.

James employed rigid interior boning in the bodice to achieve this shape.

I had a chance recently to see the roses at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (a 30-minute walk from my apartment), and I am always struck by how some of the roses, with their many petals, remind me of elaborate dresses, so it seems perfect for these gorgeous pink and white blooms to share the same post with James’ beyond beautiful Tree dress.


Guinevere roses.

I never get tired of white roses!

This bloom smelled like rose heaven.

Fashion, A-Z: Highlights from the Collection of The Museum at FIT, Part Two is on view until November 10, 2012.

The Museum at FIT
Seventh Avenue at 27th Street
New York NY 10001-5992
Hours: Tuesday-Friday: Noon-8PM
Saturday: 10AM-5PM
Closed Sundays, Mondays, and legal holidays


Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

The roses were so beautiful that I could almost smell them through the computer! The dresses would be maganificent all lined up in a row..this one is stunning!

Anonymous said...

The pink rose is just perfect. Would love to see the Tree dress in the green and I agree lining all of them up in various colors would be a thrill.


This dress is only comparable to natures majestic roses, ahhhhhhhhhhhh, so much beauty.


I shall definitely join you, my dear Jill.

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