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Charles James: Beyond Fashion

For the caterpillar-to-butterfly effect of this gown, James exaggerated the torso length of the sheath with "the highest bustline in 125 years" and layered transparent tulle in unexpected colors to accrue depth and iridescent shimmer to the surrogate wings.

The owner of this dress purchased it at Lord & Taylor for $1,250, the equivalent of $12,000 today. "It was, according to her recollection, surprisingly comfortable to wear despite its eight-pound weight and posterior amplitude," the museum notes.

Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art

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