c1969 Thea Porter Couture Gold Brocade & Silver Metal Embroidered Fuchsia Dress
Thea Porter combined exoticism, embellished ornamentation and luxurious fabrics in her pieces and her work was a phenomenon during her day. She dressed many of the most fashionable woman in the world. Eliazabeth Taylor was a noted fan, as was Sharon Tate, Faye Dunaway, Brit Eckland and many, many more. Her legacy continues to this day and great examples of her work are harder and harder to find. In 2015, the Fashion and Textile Museum in London showcased her work in the exhibit "Thea Porter 70s Bohemian Chic" and over a dozen pieces were pulled from my archives for that show and for the accompanying book. This is a more recent acquisition to the shop and it is one of the best I have seen.
This is an astonishing, high glamour dress that combines elements of both her Faye dress, named after Faye Dunaway and the iconic Gipsy dress. Both of these were made in various versions from 1968 onward. I suspect that this one was custom made for a client, or perhaps was just yet another unique version of one of her dresses dreamed up by Thea herself. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful Thea dresses I have seen in person. The color alone makes it a stand out, never mind the extensive embellishments. The bodice is made from a panel of antique brocade - here it is a pink and gold floral brocade that is very beautiful. This is finished with a combination of silver and gold metallic piping that highlights the neckline and runs down the front to the waist. The sleeves are incredibly full and are made from a deep fuchsia silk chiffon that has a slightly ribbed finish to it. These billow out above elastic ends and are very voluminous. Below the waist there are two layers of silk. The innermost layer is the same silk that was used to make the sleeves. Over that lies a top embroidered silk layer and it is this layer that makes this dress especially wondrous. It is a brighter pink silk Sari fabric that has been heavily embroidered with real silver metal thread and matte silver sequins. This fabric was most likely vintage even at the time of making the dress and both the quality of the silk and the workmanship are extremely fine. All of the work is hand done. The skirt is very full and there are yards and yards of the silk used in its construction. The hem is left to lie at different lengths all around its edge. In person the dress is even better. The combination of that vibrant deep fuchsia pink mixed with the metallic silver and gold have more impact in real life and the full effect of the dress is astonishing. Excellent overall condition with some notes to review below.
The bodice is fully lined in a purple silk and the skirt is made up of two layers of the silk as described above. It closes with a back painted metal zipper. The elastic in the sleeves may be slightly stretched out but they are fine as they are. I would not change them. I see a small vertical repair to the silk near the top of one shoulder and there are some small splits and areas of weakness to the silk there that will need to be reinforced at some point. There are two long areas of repair to the hem. I see some slight fading to the silk around these areas as well. With the volume of fabric in these areas, once on you would never notice any of these. They are all decently done and the silk seems stable but the areas around the repairs should be handled with care to not do any further damage. Her silks were very fine and this tends to happen to her pieces as they age. Please see the photos following the shot of the label. Note that this dress is sold as a final sale.
Slightly inset shoulders: 14"
Bust: to 18" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: to 14" flat across from side seam to side seam
Bodice: 15.5" from top of shoulder to waist
Skirt: 40" from waist to longest points of the hem
Modern Sizing Equivalent: SML-MED
Reference Photos: Cherie, Owner of Shrimpton Couture.
This garment has been checked over, steamed out and it is sold in clean. as found condition.