Incredible 1970s Bob Mackie Hand Applied Bead & Sequin Silk 'Orchid' Dress
This stunning and rare gown was designed by Bob Mackie. Mackie was best known for dressing Cher and for his undying love of opulence and bead work, both of which he incorporates heavily into the best of his designs. He worked for both Edith Head and Jean Louis prior to working as a costume designer and co-designing with Ray Aghayan. That led to his incredible journey in designing for stars like Cher and Diana Ross for many years. In some ways he and his creations defined their careers and that era of glamour. I think he secretly always designed for the big screen and the bygone glamor of Hollywood as his work is always over the top and extravagant.
This is an amazing gown that is heavily beaded and extremely sexy and flattering once on. The base of the gown is made of a black silk chiffon that has hundreds of vertical bands made of blue and black beads laid out in curving rows that follow the lines of the dress. Mixed into this are huge pink Orchids that curve up the front of the dress, highlight the lower half and sit on each sleeve. There are also flowers on the neckline and even on that dips out an past the scoop of the back so that the beaded flow sits on your bare skin. These are made up of beads and sequins in a mix of pinks and purples. Iridescent green tube beads form long trailing stalks and leaves. This combination of the glass tube beads and sequins give the gown an extra layer of texture and glamour as every inch of it catches the light and sparkles. As a result the dress is very heavy off the body because of that extensive bead-work, and yet once on the body it lies and drapes in a way that it is balanced and not at all unwieldy. The bodice is cut to skim over the chest with a wide cut neckline. The sleeves are cut wide and straight so that there is enough area to really show off the orchid design that trails down and around each sleeve. The back plunges in a V with that overlay flower that sits off on your skin as mentioned above. I love how the waist is gathered in by hand across the back just slightly so that there is a bit of shape created but at the front its left with no stitching added so that the front remains a ling unbroken sheath. The skirt is incredible and is cut with a high curve so that one side falls to full length and then other curves up to show the leg. The effect of this is far more dramatic and fabulous on a real body and it really shows off the legs. If you even remotely love it in the photos you will dance when you see it in person as it is so, so, so much better in real life. Extremely well made and made to demi-couture standards. It is so well made I think you could even wear it with the V to the front and it would still work. Excellent condition.
Fully lined in a black silk chiffon crepe including the sleeves. It closes with a hand set back zipper. Hand finished throughout. Incredibly heavy as it is fully beaded from top to bottom with glass beads but feels balanced when on and comfortable. Perhaps the occasional bead missing but nothing that detracts - I see a couple missing beads at the back near the hem and a bit of a row on the back of the curved hip side. You would never notice this when the dress is on.
Bust: to 18" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: 12.5" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: to 18" flat across from side seam to side seam
Bodice: 15" from neck to waist
Skirt: 43" from waist to longest point of hem. 16.5" from waist to highest point of the curved side
Modern Sizing Equivalent: XS-SML
This garment has been professionally cleaned, pressed and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.