george halley

1960s George Halley Couture Lavender Silk Satin Dress w Heavily Detailed Crystal & Rhinestone Bodice

George Halley started his career working for Charles James who said of the young designer that he 'was a genius at draping'. By the time Halley opened his own atelier in 1966 he was well on his way to fame. He won the Coty Award in 1968 and his work is on par with true couture. He is one of my personal favorite designers. In 2015 I included him in my list of 'The 10 Designers to Add to Your Vintage Collection' published for Harper's Bazaar, where I said; 'If you want old school glamour and to feel like Hollywood royalty, look to this under-the-radar label outside of vintage circles... A Coty Award winner in 1968, Halley was one of the great American Couturiers and his work always feels grand and elegant. Think polished silk and fused velvet's and embellishments that have a touch of the Grand Old South to them. Silhouettes to look for are his sweeping ball gowns and hostess gowns. Rich fabrics and rich colors are used with a master's hand. Feathers, crystals, hand painted fabrics and fine workmanship are all things to expect from a George Halley gown. Slipping one on instantly makes a girl feel special and important. These are the showpieces and while you should expect to pay for the quality and beauty of what you get they are absolute jewels'. Women's Wear Daily called him 'a designer in a lovely world of his own' and that is how I feel about his work. It is in a world of its own and it is easy to fall in love with his pieces as they are always extraordinarily beautiful. 

The dress is almost beyond words in terms of how beautiful it is and it is almost outrageous with its level of opulence. It is constructed to couture standards and the workmanship and quality of materials used in its construction are amazing. The impact of that soft purple combined with the elegant cut and then the opulence of the embellishments is a fantastic combination. A George Halley design always starts from the fabric and embellishment choices. The skirt is made from rich silk with a satin finish in a soft lavender. It is is very full and he has set it higher up the bodice so that the waist seam lies under the bust but not quite high enough to be a true empire. The skirt falls from there in a widening expanse of fabric and the skirting has tremendous shape and volume. Underneath here is an attached silk organza underskirt that helps to hold the shape and fullness you see. It is important to note that most of the shape is created by the deep inverted pleats that sit at the back and the soft wide gathers at the front. The underskirts are there as support rather then to create the shape. A small but important distinction as it speaks to the high level of workmanship the dress was made to. At the front there is a huge bow in the same fabric as the skirt. This is attached to a wide band of silk that curves around the waist. It is set so that it is partially attached around, snd then snaps and hooks into place under the bow so that all the closures are hidden and there is nothing to break the line. Each snap has been hand covered in silk and set into place by hand. The bodice is a work of art with a floral design made entirely of heavy glass crystals, beads and rhinestones. Each piece of the design has been set by hand to follow the pattern of the pale lavender lace underneath. The bodice curves up to a high neck and the collar has been densely covered with the jewels to create a contrast to the rest of the bodice. The sleeves are cut so that they slightly widen out as they near the wrist. Each cuff has its own densely beaded finish to match the collar. The bodice is completely covered in the crystals and these catch the light with your slightest movement. It is incredible. It is very heavy because of the dense glass bead work on the bodice but once on, somehow feels extremely comfortable. This is a remarkable dress that would be impossible to replicate in our modern world. This would have been a custom piece made for a specific client. The is one of the best examples I have seen of his work outside of a museum. Excellent condition with two small notes to review below.

The dress has an attached inner stiffened organza skirt and the outer skirt is interlined with a matching purple silk. The bodice is fully lined in a hand set inner cream silk and layer of nude silk sits between that and the outer embellished lace layer. It closes with a hand set back zipper. The band around the waist is partially attached and then closes with hand set silk covered snaps and hooks into place under the front bow. Each sleeve has a hand set zipper at its end. There are two small breaks in the netting close to each other on the back of one shoulder. There is a tiny variation to the colour under the folds of the pleats on the skirt, the silk is a darker shade of purple all along and under each fold. You only see then when you open the folds and it is very even so does not detract. Please see the last three photos after the label shot. 

Sleeves: 23"
Shoulders: 14"
Bust: 16" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: 13" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: open
Bodice: 11" from top of bodice to waist
Skirt: 47.5" from waist to hem

Modern Sizing Equivalent: XS-SML

Item# DD3152

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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