james galanos

1970s James Galanos Floral Print Silk & Lace Inserts Dress

This dress was custom made, and is from the estate of 1950s model Betsy Pickering Kaiser. Betsy appeared on several Vogue covers in the 1950s and it was during that time period time period that she met Galanos. They were friends for over 60 years. She collected, and wore Galanos, her entire life and was his friend and muse. He once told her husband ‘I would rather have Betsy wear my clothes than any other woman’. She was a constant presence on the International Best Dressed List and and was added to the Best Dressed Hall of Fame in the early 1970s.

Galanos was known as the designer that could rival the French in terms of construction and design. He launched his atelier in 1951 and although his atelier was never formally designated as Haute Couture by the French, he certainly produced clothing that met the parameters of couture and he is often referred to  as one of the great American couturiers. Here, we see that high level of workmanship put into this dress. The dress is made of a light weight  black silk chiffon that is covered with a vivid floral print. The colors are bright and true with a watercolor feel and they pop against that black backdrop. Three full layers of silk are used through the body and yet the dress still weighs mere ounces. The top layer is printed and the two layers under that are a black silk chiffon. The layered effect of the silk gives it lots of movement and creates a light, floating effect when you walk. Each layer is finished with a black ribbon piping along the edges and the dress does up along each side with a series of small frog knots and loops made of the same fabric as the finishing. It is cut in a long column that skims over the body to the floor. Each side has a openings along either side and the lower frog knots are functional so that you can control how high they open slightly. The top is scooped at both the front, and the back. Both these scoops are finished with a panel of a fine black lace so that you get a transparency effect. The back is scooped very low and is only kept from being scandalous for its time period by that covering of lace. The contrast between the lightness of the silk, the see through quality of the lace and the boldness of the colors is wonderful. Excellent condition

The dress is made of three layers of silk chiffon and close with a hidden set, side zipper. Frog knots run down each side with some functional and some decorative. The slits can be close slightly with a frog knot and if you wanted them higher you could open them more. This is a one-off, unlabelled custom piece made for Betsy and came from her estate. The cut is loose and easy through the body.

Bust: 18-19" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: to 19.5" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: to 21" flat across from side seam to side seam
Length: 56" from top of shoulder to hem
Slits: to 28" on one side and to 23" on the other

Modern Sizing Equivalent: MED-LRG

Item# DD3004

This garment has been professionally cleaned, pressed and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.

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Please review all measurements carefully. More often than not, vintage garments do not fit any size category exactly. If in doubt, measure a garment of your own that fits and is a similar cut and compare it's measurements to the listed measurements below.