1960s Mr Blackwell Custom Label Crystal, Bead and Pearl Illusion Dress
Richard Blackwell launched his label in the late 1950s and even at that time his dresses sold for between $800 and $1000 (or up to $10,000 in the modern terms). He dressed many of the big stars of the day including Jane Russell, Dorothy Lamour and Jayne Mansfield. His 'custom' line was the pieces that were made to order, and were one of a kind pieces that were fitted to a specific client in the couture tradition.
This dress is from the custom part of his atelier and is a wonderful example of his work. It is a wonderful dress and rarely do such fine examples of this time period, and with this level of glamour, come to market anymore. This comes directly from the original client who kept it on pristine condition. The cut is simple but dramatic because of the amazing front inset and embellishment. The dress is cut in a simple, long sheath black sheath and the black is a medium weight wool crepe jersey so it holds the intended shape very well and gives the dress structure without having to have a lot of seaming. The sleeves are long and straight. The dress skims over the torso and glides into a touch of shape at the waist. It then falls to the floor in a column that gently widens as it nears the hem below that. The front of the dress has a nude silk inset that is backed by an opaque silk so it gives the illusion of being see-through from a distance but you are entirely covered. This is then densely covered in an angular pattern created by hand placed large glass crystal rhinestones, clear seed beads and rows of faux pearls. They have a raised 3D effect and give the otherwise simple dress a high level of glamour. The illusion that it is slit to below the hips adds a touch of sexiness despite the wearer being completely covered. It is amazing. Excellent condition.
Fully lined through the body in a nude colored silk with the sleeves left unlined. It closes with a back, hand set, painted metal zipper. The embellishments are hand placed
Bust: to 21" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: to 18" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: to 20" flat across from side seam to side seam
Length: 59" from top of shoulder to hem
Modern Sizing Equivalent: MED-LRG
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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