Bill Blass worked for the Maurice Retner label for 10 years as the chief designer. In 1968 the Bill Blass Inc label became a subsidiary of the Retner label . Then in 1970 he fully bought out his partners at the Maurice Retner label and re-launched it under his own name as Bill Blass Ltd. 1970 was the same year that he won his third Coty American Fashion Critics' Award and with it, his lifetime membership in the Coty Hall of Fame. By 1980 the company was doing 20 million dollars in revenue. He was arguably one of the most famous of all the American designers. By the eighties his work was even more ornate and luxurious than what he had done in the past. Prices for dresses could be as high as $5000 (which would be about $15,000 today). He was once asked why his clothes were so expensive and he replied, 'I'm an avid believer that we have to have clothes made in this country. Therefore we pay more money. ... The cost of labor and fabrication is what makes the clothing expensive.'
I have had versions of this dress in the shop in the past and I love it every time one comes in. It is bold and dramatic and it still feels perfectly on point with so many designers focusing on the eighties right now. Few designers would be able to make this mix of fabrics work. The neck is high and the sleeves are long. There is an inner silk chiffon bodice and then over that is an attached netted lace top. This is then covered in glossy black sequins. The winning through the lace and sequins are little rosettes that are made from a white ribbon that has been woven through the netting and stitched into place in little twirls. Blass used dots in his work quite often and the ribbon work that has been done is a bit of a play on his signature dot pattern. The shoulders are padded and strong and the edge of the bodice is shaped into a curving scalloped pattern. I love how it sits away from the body because it emphasizes the waist more. Quite a clever trick. The waist is accented by a wide black silk satin ribbon that is attached to the inner dress. Under that the skirt falls with a nice bit of fullness to it. Inside it has an inner organza lining that helps to hold the shape but most of the volume comes form the pleating at the waist and the horizontal banding that helps to give the skirt structure. It curves out full over the hips and has a bit of a bell shape. Alternating stripes of black and white silk organza run all the way to the hem and each black stripe has a little band of lace edging it on both the top and bottom of the stripe. Excellent condition with a small note to review below.
The outer bodice is lined in a black silk and that sits over a black silk chiffon inner bodice. The skirt is lined with a white white silk organza. The dress closes at the back with a hand set zipper and the top buttons to close over that. Padded shoulders. I see the the slightest of darkening to some of the ribbon on the top. Too faint to capture in a photo but mentioned for accuracy. There is a minor mark on the skirt and a tiny area of fading near the hem. Please see the photos after the shot of the label
Bust: 18" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: 14" flat across from side seam to side seam
Bodice: 16" from top of shoulder to bottom seam of band at the waist
Skirt: 36" from waist to hem
Modern Sizing Equivalent: SML-MED
This garment has been professionally cleaned, pressed and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.