James designed this dress for New Yorker Millicent Rogers in 1949. Two year later the design appeared in Vogue magazine, when it was photographed by Horst and included in James's "black and white" collection. James described the dress as a "curving stem of black velvet above petals of black satin, above 25 yards of blowing, billowing white taffeta." He revived the design in 1958, as a ready-to-wear dress for the junior market. Worn by donor Mrs. Harvey Byron, Jr. neé Kathleen Whitcomb.
If James were not so clever, the Petal's twenty-five yards of material would have created an undesirable bulk at the waist. He solved this by stitching most of the material to petal shaped hip panels and only one layer into the waist seam. The skirt's tremendous weight has caused extensive damage to the interior construction. Nearly 120 hours of conservation were necessary to stabilize it for display.