Geoffrey Beene was one of the great American fashion designers and he was recognized for both his artistic and technical skills. He launched his label in 1963 and a piece from his very first collection landed the cover of Vogue. A Coty award followed a year later and in 1984 the Council of Fashion Designers created the annual Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement award in honor of Beene's fashion legacy. When researching this dress I found a dress held by the Metropolitan Museum with a strikingly similar silhouette and also an editorial shot of a dress that uses the same printed fabric.
I love Geoffrey Beene's work during this time period and this particular dress is just divine. It is really a special piece and Museum worthy. The workmanship is very fine and it is surprisingly light weight despite all that is going on in it. The body of the dress is made from an ultra soft leopard printed chenille like fabric that is almost a faux fur but far lighter and more refined. It is almost like a long piled velvet. Very unusual and very interesting. This is mixed with a black silk netting that makes up the shoulders and sleeves. The netting is detailed with gold metallic thread and also with fused dots of a flat piled black velvet. The bodice is cut to curve around the bust and I love how the leopard printed fabric angles up the the mid-neck on both sides. The netting takes over at that point and curves over the shoulders and down the long sleeves. The extensive detailing work and the way the design is laid out is amazing. From there the fabric skims over the waist and hips and then narrows down to the hem. It is cut to curve in slightly and the hem is cut on a curve as well and has a high slit running up the center. It is really an amazing dress and a testament to Beene's genius. Excellent condition.
The fabric is self backed and the dress unlined. It closes with a back hidden set zipper. Each sleeve has a hidden set snap at the cuff. Ribbon edge finished for all inner seams. It appears to have never been worn, or worn very little. Tagged a vintage size 6
Sleeves: approx 25"
Shoulders: no defined seam
Bust: 17" flat across the back from side seam to side seam
Waist: to 14" flat across the back from side seam to side seam
Hips: to 18.5" flat across the back from side seam to side seam
Length: 56" from neck to front hem, 58" to the back hem
Slit: 26" from hem up
Modern Sizing equivalent: SML-MED
Reference Photos: (1) Valerie Celis in Geoffrey Beene for Vogue US, 1994. Photo by Ellen Von Unwerth. / (2) Spring 1993 Geoffrey Beene dress from the MET Collection Online.
This garment has been professionally cleaned, pressed and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.