Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Wedding dress
  • Wedding dress
    James, Charles, born 1906 - died 1978
  • Enlarge image

Wedding dress

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1934 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    James, Charles, born 1906 - died 1978 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk satin, trimmed with wax orange-blossom, cut on the bias

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Alec Hambro

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Miss Baba Beaton wore this dress when she married Mr Alec Hambro on 6 November 1934. It is an early example of the work of the designer Charles James. It anticipates later developments in his style, particularly his approach to complex cut. The beauty of the design lies in its deceptive simplicity and the designer's complete understanding of the potential of the fabric. Darts and seams shape the smooth ivory satin, which clings and drapes around the body in order to enhance the graceful figure. James said, 'all my seams have meaning - they emphasise something about the body'.

Although he was born in Britain, James worked as a milliner and custom dressmaker in New York between 1924 and 1929. In 1929 he opened premises in London. During the early 1930s he travelled extensively between London and Paris, establishing a Paris branch in 1934. Like Elsa Schiaparelli he was a friend of the Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí and made use of Surrealist influences in his designs.

Physical description

Wedding dress of ivory-cream silk satin, with high neckline and long tight sleeves. The fabric is bias cut, the torso elaborately seamed and darted to sculpt the smooth satin to fit the body beneath closely. The skirt of the dress extends into a long train which extends into two separate double-points of satin. Spray of wax orange-blossom worn at the neck.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1934 (designed)


James, Charles, born 1906 - died 1978 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Silk satin, trimmed with wax orange-blossom, cut on the bias


Circumference: 66 cm waist, Circumference: 84 cm bust, Circumference: 68 cm diaphragm, Length: 150 cm overall, Length: 40 cm to waist, Width: 40 cm centre back, Width: 42 cm shoulder to shoulder, Length: 62 cm sleeve, over, Length: 52 cm sleeve, under, Circumference: 80 cm hips, Circumference: 18 cm wrist

Object history note

Worn by Miss Barbara "Baba" Beaton, the sister of Cecil Beaton, when she married Mr. Alec Hambro on 6 November 1934.

Descriptive line

Wedding dress of silk satin, designed by Charles James, England, 1934.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Fashion : An Anthology by Cecil Beaton. London : H.M.S.O., 1971

Labels and date

Dress with orange-blossom choker
Charles James (1906-78)

To marry Alec Hambro, Baba (Barbara) Beaton commissioned a dress from Charles James. The young designer created a very modern interpretation of the white wedding dress with a raised neckline and divided train. Although the bride wanted a quiet wedding, it was widely reported because of her high-profile social life. The photographer Cecil Beaton was her brother.

Dress: silk satin
Choker: wax, cloth and paper
Given and worn by Mrs Alec Hambro for her wedding, 6 November 1934
V&A: T.271&A-1974 [2011]


Fashion; Marriage; Clothing

Production Type

Haute couture


Textiles and Fashion Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.