thea porter

Extraordinary 1969 Thea Porter Black Silk Chiffon Dress w Red Print & Huge Balloon Sleeves

This same print was used on dress from one of Thea's very first fashion shows that was held at her Greek street shop in London. But the label on this dress was unusual and did not match the ones that would have been used for that show so I reached out to fashion historian and author Laura McClaws Helms. Laura wrote the book on Thea Porter released a few years back and she also curated the museum exhibit on her work. She told me that in the very early days Thea would sometimes meet with boutique owners and agree to sell select pieces to them. This dress is from one of those collaborations and that makes this dress a very rare piece. Once that was known we ended up finding a photo of the twin of this dress within Laura's photo archives dating it to 1969. It is a stunning and early example of what was to come and it is just a beautiful dress besides.

The dress is stunning. It feels a bit like her 'Faye' dress in its design but with the addition of those incredible sleeves. I love the stark mix of black white and red and how the print is done in panels that run down the front and back of the dress. The the sleeves and side of the dress are made from a semi-transparent black silk chiffon and that touch of transparently is very sexy. The printed parts are also a silk chiffon that has been completely covered in a graphic swirling pattern of red, white and black. The body of the dress is backed in a layer of silk chiffon to make it slightly more opaque and wearable but the sleeves are a single layer of chiffon. Their volume is partly created by how they come out from the waist and because of how they are set from the waist like that you get a glimpse of the transparency along the sides of the bodice when you move which is just insanely sexy. It is still subtle though because of how full the sleeves are cut. Each one falls from the shoulder and connect down right to the waist. Each wrist is finished with a tie made from the printed chiffon. Once on they will sit up more and billow around you. There is banding at the slightly empire set waist and this extends out at the back into long ties that you can cinch to add more shape. The print runs down the front of the  entire dress, circles round the hem and then meets the panel that runs down the back. Beyond its rarity and place in fashion history it is just a gorgeous dress. Excellent condition with a small note below

Fully lined in a black silk chiffon except for the sleeves which are unlined. The dress zips to close at the back. Stiffened tulle set into each shoulder to hold the shape. The band at the waist extend to ties that you can cinch in the waist as desired. Hand finishes throughout. One of the ties at the wrist has a tiny bit missing from its edge that you do not see when it is tied. I see a couple of tiny pinholes near one shoulder and one on the back skirt. Please see the photos after the label shot

Sleeves: approx 28"
Shoulders: no true defined seam
Bust: no true side seams
Seam under the bust: 14.5" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: open
Bodice: 12" from top of shoulder to seam under the bust
Skirt: 45" from waist to hem

Modern Sizing Equivalent: XS-SML

Item# DD3491

Reference Photo: (1) Model in Thea Porter, 1969. Photo courtesy of Laura McLaws Helms.  /  (2) 1969 Thea Porter Runway.

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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.