mary mcfadden

1980s Mary McFadden Purple Pleated Dress w Elaborate Beaded Gold Cord Shoulder

Mary McFadden patented her Fortuny inspired pleating technique just a couple of years after launching her label in 1973. By the eighties she had many licensing agreements and her dresses were being made on a larger scale. She called her pleated fabric 'marii' after her own name. She went around the world to source the fabric she wanted and her pieces need up being made out of a synthetic charmeuse that she sourced from Australia. The fabric was then sent to Japan to be hand-dyed and the pleating technique was done by a machine press in the United States. Mary was known to say frequently that there was no greater beauty than pleated cloth on the human body and she said then when she developed her 'marii' fabric her aim was to have it 'fall like liquid gold on the body, like Chinese silk.' This is a gorgeous example of her work. We found a very similar dress to it on the Spring 1980 runway that has the same skirt finish and have included that shot here so that you can see just how spectacular the dress will be once on.

This dress is made from McFadden's fabric in her signature pleating technique. Like many of her best pieces the pleating gives it the comfort of a bias cut and it is very sexy while still feeling refined. The colour is a brilliant deep royal purple that is flattering on most skin tones. The lightness of the fabric lets the dress fall over you beautifully and skims over you in a way that is very flattering. The neckline is set on an angle and there is a panel set over the bust area. This is done so that she could put the pleats running horizontally in contrast to the ones underneath. From one shoulder is an elaborate strap made of gold metallic cord. Covering that are a series of oversized faceted beads in two tones of blue. The strap is set at the back and then curves up and over the shoulder. Where it meets the front the cords are left in a fringe to cascade over the bodice on that side. The dress falls to the floor from under the bust area in a column of pleat work. These longer skirts like this are not always seen in her later work. As time went buy she tended to prefer to design pieces that ended well above the ankle so you could see the shoe underneath. This makes the truly longer pieces a bit rarer and harder to find. I love the detailing on the lower part of the skirt. A wide panel has been added to the sower skirt and it creates a subtle ruffle where it is joined into the body of the dress. This give you extra kick when you walk and added detail. No matter how good it is in the photos it is better in person and it is wonderful once on the body. It is beautiful example of her work. Excellent condition

Unlined and closes with a hidden set side zipper. The easy cut and give of the fabric should allow it to fit a range of sizes. It looks to have been worn very little if at all. Tagged a vintage 10

Bust: to 19" flat across from side seam to side seam
The waist and hips when laid flat are 16" flat across from side seam to side seam but will open to well over 25" across because of the bias pleat work
Length: 60" from top of shoulder to hem

Modern Sizing Equivalent: MED-LRG

Item# DD4323

Reference Photo: Spring 1980 Mary McFadden Runway.

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

Setting up a layaway is super easy and we are happy to provide this service!

Here's how deposits work on a standard layaway:

  • We require three equal payments of the layaway total. You will be invoiced for the first amount upon request
  • payment two of the remaining balance will be billed two weeks from the date of the initial deposit.
  • The final payment is due two weeks after the second payment and shipping will be billed on this invoice as well.
  • items less then $500, or that are on sale, require a 50% deposit with the final payment due in two weeks from the date of deposit 

Read More

We offer flat rate Standard UPS shipping worldwide. All shipping options are displayed at checkout in the pull down menus provided.

Want it faster?

We offer flat rates for expedited and express shipping options - these will also display at check out and can be selected with the drop down menu during the checkout process.

Read More


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.