Exhibitions: American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection

Charles James: Butterfly Dress

This design invites multiple interpretations. The form alludes to the extreme bustles of the 1880s and at the same time can be imagined as a transformation of the female body into that of a butterfly with iridescent wings that shimmer when they move. References to the past aside, it was a form hitherto unknown in the history of fashion. Twenty-five yards of tulle were used in its making.