arnold scaasi

c.1992 Arnold Scaasi Couture Deep Green Velvet & Embroidered Silver Thread & Sequin Dress

Arnold Scaasi was born Arnold Isaacs in Montreal and the name Scassi is simply his own surname in reverse. He studied in Montreal and in Paris, apprenticed at the house of Paquin and then worked with the legendary Charles James. In 1964 he opened own couture salon. He dressed Hollywood stars like Lauren Bacall, Diahann Carroll and Elizabeth Taylor. He dressed several first ladies including Mamie Eisenhower, Hillary Clinton and both the Bush first ladies. He even once bragged that he refused to give Jackie clothes for free. He was the man behind the scandalous 1969 Barbra Streisand sheer trouser outfit that she collected her Oscar in, and he was presented with the Council of Fashion Designers of America Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. 

This dress is especially interesting for two reasons. The first is that a very similar version that was done completely in silver was done for Elizabeth Taylor. She wore the dress to the 20th annual Fifi Awards in 1992 and I have dated this one based on that dress. Shortly after her death in 2011, her all silver 'Platinum' version was sold through Christies as part of the 'Collection of Elizabeth Taylor' auction. Due to the association with her name it realized a incredible $72,000USD hammer price. The second interesting thing of note about this dress is that when I posted a preview of the fabric of skirt in my instagram stories I had many people think that the dress was actually the 2016 Balenciaga dress that I have included a photo of here. I ended up getting into a discussion with fashion journalist Alexander Fury about it and he suspects that both fabrics were done by the Jakob Schlaepfer company who has been creating fabrics for the most prestigious fashion brands in the industry for over 100 years. The Balenciaga team most likely selected the archive fabric that the Scassi dress was originally made out of and then had it recreated and tweaked for the Balenciaga dress. This is a common occurrence with the older more prestigious fabric houses and it is fascinating to see such a clear line of the progression between one dress to another. All of this makes this dress a very historically interesting piece. The dress is from his main label and these were made to couture standards.

The dress is a showstopper. The skirt is made out of the silver embroidered and sequinned fabric that you see and the dense application of the embroidered work along with the underlying structure gives it a definitive and structured shape. That shape is all achieved by the inner structure and built in skirting and I did not add any additional underpinnings. The bodice is made out of a deep green silk velvet. It is shaped and fitted to the body. The waist is cut to nip in sharply. I love how the silver embroidery on the skirt is set on a sharp upward angled point at the front and then the neckline angles down towards that in its own sharp point. The sleeves are amazing. Each is set high on the shoulder and explode outward in hand gathered high poufed silhouette to create maximum volume. They are wonderfully dramatic and full with inner built in layers of silk and tulle to hold the volume. The inner construction of this dress is as amazing as the exterior. The very inner skirt is made from a fine deep green silk with a broad band of horsehair taping inside the bottom hem. Between that and the outer layer of silk are layers of stiffened white netted tulle. The sleeves are equally incredible and are shaped to have that gorgeous fullness to them. Each has an inner finish of tulle netting to hold the shape. The bodice is corseted and boned. The inside is exquisitely constructed and it is all hand finished. This is a stunning dress and the history associated with it makes it that much more fascinating. Excellent  condition with a minor note below

Fully lined in a fine deep green silk. The skirt is finished with attached inner skirts as described above. The sleeves are finished with tulle inside the lining. It closes with a hand set back metal zipper. The bodice is boned and shaped all the way around. Finished to couture standards by hand. At some point a repair was done to the edge of the inner tulle of the skirt. Otherwise looks to have been worn very little if at all. 

Bust: to 15.5" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: 12" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: open
Length: 58" from top of shoulder to hem with approx another 4' turned under the hem

Modern Sizing Equivalent: XXS-XS

Item# DD3614

Reference Photos: (1) Elizabeth Taylor wearing Arnold Scaasi at the 20th annual Fifi Awards, 1992.  /  (2-3) 1990s Arnold Scaasi Dress from The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor's Auction for Christie's.  /  (4) F/W 2016 Balenciaga Runway Collection.  /  (5-8) Ruth Negga wearing this dress to the Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures Opening Gala, September 2021.

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.