james galanos

Custom 1970s James Galanos Floral Print Silk Chiffon Dress w Deep Plunging Black Lace Inserts

Galanos was known as the designer that could rival the French in terms of construction and design. He launched his atelier in 1951 and although his atelier was never formally designated as Haute Couture by the French, he certainly produced clothing that met the parameters of couture and he is often referred to  as one of the great American couturiers. This stunning dress was custom made, and my client acquired it from the estate of 1950s model Betsy Pickering Kaiser. Betsy appeared on several Vogue covers in the 1950s and it was during that time period time period that she met Galanos. They were friends for over 60 years. She collected and wore Galanos pieces her entire life and was his friend and muse. He once told her husband ‘I would rather have Betsy wear my clothes than any other woman’. She was a constant presence on the International Best Dressed List and and was added to the Best Dressed Hall of Fame in the early 1970s. It is a wonderful thing to have such a beautiful piece of her history in the shop 

This is one of my favourite Galanos pieces. Betsy was a model and was tall and this dress is cut to a supermodel length that reflects that. It is beautiful. It is made of a printed light weight silk chiffon that is combined with a black lace. The entire thing weighs ounces and you will be delightfully shocked at how light it is in person. The black silk chiffon is covered with a vivid floral print. The colours are bright and true with a slightly washed watercolour feel and they pop against that black backdrop. He made the body of the dress by layering three layers of chiffon over each other. The top layer is the one printed with that huge floral design and then the two layers under that are done in a black. The layered effect of the silk gives it lots of movement and creates a light floating effect when you walk. Each layer is finished with a black ribbon piping along the edges and the dress does up along each side with a series of black frog knots and loops made of the same fabric as the piping along the edges. It is cut in a long column that skims over the body to the floor. Each side has an opening along either side and the lower frog knots are functional so that you can control how open the slit goes. Leaving more open creates a sexy flash of skin when you walk to offset the more easy fit through the body. The bodice is scooped at both the front and the back. Both of the scoops are finished with a panel of a fine black lace. This allows your skin to peek through. The back is scooped very low and that bare expanse covered with nothing but the black lace is fabulous. The contrast between the lightness of the silk, the see through quality of the lace, and the boldness of the colours is killer. Excellent condition

The dress is made of three layers of silk chiffon and closes with a hidden set side zipper. Frog knots run over that and then down each side. This is a one-off unlabeled custom piece made for Betsy and came from her estate. The cut is loose and easy through the body.

Bust: 18-19" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: to 19.5" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: to 21" flat across from side seam to side seam
Length: 56" from top of shoulder to hem
Slits: to 28" on one side and to 23" on the other

Modern Sizing Equivalent: MED-LRG

Item# DD3004

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.