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  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1936 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk grosgrain

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the designer

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The couturier Charles James (1906-1978) began his career as a milliner in Chicago. He opened his own shop in 1926 under the label 'Charles Boucheron'. In 1928 he began designing dresses using the same 3-dimensional constructive approach found in millinery. James referred to himself as a 'sartorial structural architect'.

This hat is made of one piece of grosgrain silk fabric which is cut and folded in an origami style to create a peaked hat with a crown which flows into a high blunt brim. It came straight from the studio of Charles James into the V&A collections and retains a paper label stitched to the side, which reads PLEASE DO NOT UNPICK SEAMS OR STITCHES, presumably a warning to those working with fabrics in his studio.The hat is a great example of James's structural approach and his talent for creating volume out of flat materials.

Physical description

Hat, black silk grosgrain with a pronounced diagonal rib, made as a high, pointed cap and then the high point flattened and folded sharply down in an origami effect

Place of Origin

London (made)


1936 (made)


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

Materials and Techniques

Silk grosgrain

Marks and inscriptions

Paper label attached to hat on one side in Charles James' writing


Width: 17.5 cm front 'flap', Width: 27 cm ear to ear, Length: 29.5 cm front to back, Width: 20.5 cm ear to ear, Length: 25 cm approx

Object history note

The hat forms part of the Cecil Beaton Collection which was brought together by the late Sir Cecil Beaton. With great energy and determination Sir Cecil contacted the well-dressed elite of Europe and America to bring this lasting monument to the art of dress. The collection was exhibited in 1971, accompanied by a catalogue which detailed its enormous range. (catalogue no. 159 page 33).






Fashion; Hats & headwear; Clothing; Accessories

Production Type

Haute couture


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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