1975 Thea Porter Exhibited Green Multi Textile Abaya Caftan Dress
This Thea Porter caftan dress was made in 1975 and was one of the dresses that I lent from my archives for the 2015 exhibit "Thea Porter 70s Bohemian Chic" at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, curated by Laura McLaws Helms. The mix of textiles used in the construction of this caftan was specifically noted upon on the display card that accompanied this dress in the exhibit. The card stated: Abaya, c. 1975, Designed by Thea Porter. Additional notes from Louise Fennell on Thea’s ingenious mixing of fabrics stated: ‘She’d often just put different bits of material on the floor and looked at them, and moved them about a bit; tried different things with different things – sometimes you thought, “Ooo, really??” but it always worked brilliantly.’
Of all of Thea's pieces, her caftans have come to represent Thea's work like no other piece of her clothing that she designed. Elizabeth Taylor was a huge fan and collector. By the end of her life she had amassed a large collection that was auctioned off through Christie's in 2011. Most of the caftans in that auction fetched well over the $20,000USD mark. Barbara Bach was photoed in a similar one for the cover of the Sunday Telegraph in 1977 and that photo has become an iconic representation of the era. Each of Thea’s caftans ere made by hand and no two are alike. This one appears to have never been worn and looks and feels like it is straight off a shop rack.
Thecaftan is very beautiful and is made from a combination of mix of green fabrics. Metallic shot velvets on silk chiffon are mixed with panels of silk brocades. Thea was known to hunt antique stores and markets during her extensive travels and use what she found in her designs. I think that some of these panels are some of her found antique fabrics. The wide metallic brocade ribbon that borders the main front panel feels like it could be a bit of older ribbon rescued and re-purposed. The caftan is unlined and once it is on you realize that all the side panels of chiffon and velvet fused chiffon are semi-transparent. This see-through quality makes is very sexy despite the full coverage it has. The main front and back panel of brocade has a slightly stiff feel to it still since it has not been worn expect for my photos in it and when it was in a mannequin in the exhibit. This fabric will soften as you wear it. A chiffon tie loops though skits hidden on either side of the front panel to add some shape. If you decide not to tie it the slits are done along the seam and are not apparent. A very special piece, worthy of its Museum exhibited provenance. Excellent condition.
Unlined and slips on to wear. Has a matching chiffon fabric sash that you can slip through slits at the front to add shape. It appears to have never been worn, or worn very little
WIdth: 59" side to side
Length: 53.5" neck to hem
Modern Sizing Equivalent: OSFA
Reference Photos: (1-2) From the Thea Porter 70s Bohemian Chic Exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum. / (3-4) Cherie, Owner of Shrimpton Couture, by Erin Leydon. / (5) Barbara Bach, in Thea Porter, photographed by David James for The Telegraph Sunday Magazine, April 3, 1977. / (6) Elizabeth Taylor's collection of caftans, Christie’s auction house, New York, 2011.
This garment has been professionally cleaned, pressed and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.