Fall 1979 Bill Blass Couture Hand Sequin Gold & Red Silk Chiffon Dress
I found a reference photo for a similar version of this dress that American Socialite Slim Keith wore to the Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala in New York City, in December of 1979. Barring the fact that she could have pulled this from her closet, that effectively dates it to the fall of 1979.
This dress is magnificent and I personally own the twin of this one so I can attest to how wonderful it is once on. The dress has elements of his work that he would touch on continuously over the coming decades. It is also a wonderful example of just how sophisticated and glamorous he could be. The silk chiffon he used for the base is feather light and has a fine gold, metallic lurex thread that is woven through the silk to create vertical stripes. On the skirt, hand applied sequins are scattered over the fabric and follow the gold lines of the fabric. The sequins catch the light beautifully and add another dimension and texture to the dress. There is a subtle leaf print that runs through the silk. The design is done so that is is very light at the top of the dress and then it gradually deepens and takes over the red until it graduates to a chocolate color around the hem. The dress has a nod to the 1930s in its cut but he has exaggerated some of the elements to keep it modern. The bodice crosses over itself and there is a silk chiffon inset under the semi-sheer exterior layer of silk. The sleeves come out from the bodice and each widens as it nears the cuff. The cuffs are both finished with an 18" band of fur that is either a mink or a sable. This finishing touch gives them weight and helps to hold the wide bell shape. Note that for those opposed to fur it would be an easy task to remove then as the sleeves are finished properly underneath.. The effect with the cuffs removed would be more like the reference photo of Slim wearing hers. They could also be switch out for a faux fur for the same effect. A brown silk ties cinches the waist and the skirt has a slit up the front to balance the plunge. Excellent condition.
Fully lined in a brown silk chiffon inner, attached slip. It closes with a back painted metal set zipper. An inner waist stay inside hooks to close. Hand finished and hand set sequins.All hand finished to demi-couture standards. The cuffs have perhaps the slightest of wear to the edges but are soft and supple.
Sleeves: 24" approx.
Shoulders: no defined seam
Bust: to 18" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: 14" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: to 22" flat across from side seam to side seam
Bodice: 15.5" from neck to waist
Skirt: 42" from waist to hem
Modern Sizing Equivalent: SML-MED
Reference Photos: (1-3) Cherie, Owner of Shrimpton Couture, by Erin Leydon. / (4) Socialite Slim Keith in Bill Blass (left) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala in New York City, 1979.
I have a small collection of historically important, key designer labelled vintage furs, fur trimmed & feather pieces stored away in my archives that I will be slowly posting on the site over the next couple of years until I have none left. I will no longer be buying furs for the shop moving forward and have not purchased anything for several years now. I feel like times have changed and while there still is a place for vintage furs for some, including collectors and historians, many modern girls are choosing other options. Many of the pieces in my collection are representative of the designer during a set time period in history that was different then our modern outlook. I have decided that the best course to handle this controversial issue is to let the pieces I have go rather then sit in a cold storage unit. All fur coats, fur trimmed & feather pieces are final sale
This garment has been professionally cleaned, pressed and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.