This is a Charles James 4 leaf clover ball gown. It was inspired by the cage crinoline era with two separate understructures of boning. Skirts weighed about 15 lbs, but sits comfortably on the hips. It was not completed in time for Austine Hearst to wear to the Eisenhower Inaugural Ball in 1953.
Charles James Butterfly Gowns, 1950s. Although he had salons in London an Paris in the 1930s, James was an influential American designer that opened a custom-made business in New York in the 1940s. Known for lavish ball gowns and architectural shapes, James was considered to be among the most original American designers.
Evening Gown, Charles James: 1951, silk chiffon, silk satin and nylon chiffon. "Charles James, considered an architect of dress, was obsessed with the nuances of his complicated constructed designs. This gown, with its massive billowing skirt, is composed of layer upon layer of silk, boning, horsehair, and crinoline." LACMA Collections Online