1950s Heavy Cotton / Canvas Strapless Dress w Hand Applied Cord Applique

This is a wonderful dress from the fifties. It has the feel of the hand made dresses coming out of Mexico at the time and I wonder if it is not a more evening inspired piece by one of those artisans. The base fabric, which is a heavy cotton, almost canvas fabric is really the clue for this one. It is like a thicker, more substantial version of the cotton dresses and skirts coming out of Mexico for the tourist market in the fifties. It is such an unusual fabric choice and works so beautifully that it is also a rare example of someone using a very unusual fabric choice for an evening piece in an era where that was definitely not the norm.

The dress has been entirely made by hand. The skirt is cut to be very full and I have photoed it with a crinoline underneath so you can get a true sense of the volume that is there. You could even go fuller if you wished. I have also included a photo of the dress with no underskirt so that you can see how it falls without one (pic 8). If you chose to wear it without any crinoline you would still get a lot of volume and movement. Hand applied onto the skirt are large curving 'leaf' designs. Each of these have been shaped and made by hand out of a thick ivory cotton cording that has been hand stitched into place. Running down each of these leaves are three cords of a metallic gold for a touch of glimmer. These 3D appliques are placed to circle all the way around the skirt and they add a dramatic contrast to the black base. The waist is nipped and above that is a strapless bodice with shaped cups. That same hand place cording applique work swirls over the bust and the top edge of the sweetheart bodice is finished in more of the gold cording. This is an outstanding example of the work being done during this time period. Excellent condition with some minor notes to review below.

Unlined and closes with a back metal zipper. The interior bodice is boned and it has padded cups tacked into the bust. Removing them would give you more room in the cups if needed. It has its original matching fabric slide buckle belt. The belt buckle shows some wear. There is a very slight grubbiness to the cording on the bust and a darkening on the cord on one leaf. A tiny repair to the base of one seam at the back and some light marks on the cotton of the skirt that gets lost in the folds. Please see the last three photos after the shot of the inner cups on the bodice.  The hand work in the dress is easily seen from the back as shown. The crinoline used in the styling is not included

Bust: 17" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: 13.5" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: open
Bodice: 10.5" from top of dress to waist
Skirt: 30" from waist to hem

Modern Sizing Equivalent: SML-MED

Item# E613

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.