Friday, November 30, 2012

How to Care for a Charles James Dress

A 1955 "Tree" Dress of pink silk taffeta by Charles James.

This 1955 Charles James “Tree” dress was recently on view as part of the exhibit Fashion, A-Z: Highlights from the Collection of the Museum at FIT, Part Two. I am fascinated by this dress, I always am, and have been lucky enough to see it in this pink version, and also one in red, which now belongs to The Costume Institute at the Met. When I saw it this time around I couldn’t help wondering how a dress of that size is stored and maintained and I had the pleasure of doing an impromptu interview with Marjorie Jonas, Assistant Conservator at The Museum at FIT to find out the answers.

Part of Ms. Jonas’s job involves monitoring the extensive garment collection belonging to the museum. She says many of their Charles James dresses are hung but noted that the Tree dress “has an infrastructure on its own.” You can see that this dress looks like it’s standing up all by itself!

Hubba hubba, look at those built-in curves!

Ms. Jonas says a dress of this kind is often vacuumed when it is brought out of storage and prepared for an exhibit. Can’t you just see it? And if they suspect there is a moth lurking among all those folds of fabric the dress goes right into the freezer, to kill off any bugs clinging to it.


How’s that for draping and pleating?

Oh Charles James Tree dress, until we meet again (and I hope it won’t be too long), let me just say that I adore you!


Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

These are gorgeous, Jill! I love your angle on the post as well! You always bring us such amazing garments to drool over! Have a great weekend!

Marla said...

That dress is so elegant.

Adrienne Shubin said...

Gorgeous and so ladylike. How does one go about getting into and moving about in that? Or was it made more as an art piece?

triskelos said...

This is so gorgeous! Thank you for sharing!))

Anonymous said...

Dream dress for a dream Lady. Would be very incentive for a weight watcher diet ad....
Anne (Playing with Scarves)