thea porter

1974 Thea Porter Couture Documented 'Wave' Print Silk Chiffon Backless Dress

In 2015 Curator and Fashion Historian, Laura McLaws Helms contacted me about the upcoming exhibit at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London on Thea Porter's work that she had planned. She ended up borrowing a dozen Thea Porter pieces from me for use in the exhibit and for the accompanying book 'Thea Porter: Bohemian Chic'. A close up of the fabric from this dress appears on p.84 of the book to illustrate the collaborative efforts between Thea Porter and textile designer, Hannah Meckler. The pattern on this dress is the 'Wave' design and in the book this is clarified as being done by hand and "painted onto meters of silk chiffon that were made into evening dresses and Abayas". This dress has the added provenance of being the same print and fabric of a Thea Porter owned and worn by style icon, Kate Moss

This is a wonderful Thea Porter dress that has a bare back and halter neckline. This more fitted shape is a bit unusual for her but that is part of what I love about it. It shows the range that Thea had while still staying within her wheelhouse of that bohemian feel. Thea's pieces often created sensuality by combining full coverage and flowing fabrics, so to see a dress that has far more 'bareness' to it is a bit of an anomaly for her and really showcases how multi-faceted she was. The hand painted Hannah Meckler wave design that covers the silk is appropriately named for its beautiful blue tones that are reminiscent of the ocean. The pattern has been set to highlight the lines of the dress which would have required much pre-planning and a disregard for the extra fabric needed to achieve this. The skirt is made from many yards of the silk and is set on a bias cut so that the movement it has is incredible. The fabric choice gives the dress an airy, floating feel. The bodice is fitted and cut with a high halter neckline that curves up and around the neck to tie at the back. There is a second layer of silk there that ties over the inner strap and trails down the back. The back is left completely open with a wide expanse of bare skin showing. Curved pleats, done by hand, angle up to the silk chiffon rosette details the neckline. It is very beautiful. A wonderful example of Thea Porter's work and her collaborative efforts with textile designers of the time period. Excellent condition with minor notes to review below

Fully lined in pale blue tissue silk. It closes with a low, hand set, back painted metal zipper. The halter closes at the back with hook and there is a panel of silk chiffon that ties into place over that. Light boning on either side of the bodice. All hand work. There is a slight discoloration to the lining near the top edge, the waist and inner skirt. Tagged a vintage UK 10. Note that it was too small for my mannequin and it does of course zipper and close properly.

Bust: approx 16" flat across from side seam to side seam but there is some play here as the back is open
Waist: 12.5" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: open
Bodice: approx 13" from neck to slight empire waist
Skirt: 45" from slight empire waist to hem

Modern Sizing equivalent: XS-SML

Item# DD1108

Photo Credit: (1) From the Book Thea Porter; Bohemian Chic, p.84.  /  (2) Kate Moss in a dress with the same print

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.