bill blass

Fall 1979 Bill Blass Ivory Silk Ruffle on Ink Black Velvet Strapless Dress

I am very pleased to begin presenting a collection of Bill Blass pieces from a woman who was a close personal friend of Mr. Blass for many years. Many of these pieces were custom made or tweaked specifically for her and all of them are in exquisite condition, having been stored and cared for properly over the years. These are rare and hard to find example of his work from the late 1970s and into the 1980s. Some may be the only version of its kind that were made. The family would also like it to be known that their portion of the proceeds from each sale will be donated to charity. 

I absolutely love this dress and was very pleased to be able to date it. It is always a special treat to have a piece that is museum approved. Even outside of its Museum provenance it is a wonderful example of the work that Mr. Blass was doing in that period that sat on the verge of a new decade. It has his signature sleek lines combined with that shock of the wide ivory silk ribbon running up its length. It still feels shockingly modern despite being on the cusp of turning 40 in 2020. The body of the dress is made from a plush black velvet that gives it depth and an incredible rich and lush feeling. This fabric choice has enough of a weight to it that it holds the shape wonderfully and feels so very high end once on the body. I love the strapless neckline and how this emphasizes that ivory panel even more as it rises above the bodice on the one side. The ribbon is set so that it curves down the and around the body, extending the length of the person wearing it even more. It has a wrapped effect at the hem and this allows a bit of leg to show as you walk or sit. At the very top it flares up dramatically and a second black silk bow is tucked in there for extra detailing. The Washington Post once stated that "Seventh Avenue thought of Blass as the king of American fashion and his work has always been portrayed as quintessentially American". Everything about the cut is done to give the girl wearing it one long and beautiful silhouette. Its simplicity, combined with that over the top glamour of the ivory, is part of its appeal and it looks amazing once on. Excellent condition.

Fully lined in a black silk  with a inner corset that closes with its own zipper and is lightly boned. The outer velvet dress over this closes with a second, hidden set zipper at the back. Very well made with hand finishes. Tagged a vintage 12 and the fabric is slightly cut on the bias so it has a touch of give once on the body. The bust and measurements below are taken on the inner corset

Bust: 17" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: 13.5" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: open
Length: 53.5" from top of bodice to hem

Modern Sizing Equivalent: SML-MED

Item# DD3274

Reference Photo: (1) Fall 1979 Bill Blass Runway.  /  (2) Fall 1979 Bill Blass Ad for John Baldwin Boutiques.  /  (3) S/S 1980 Bill Blass Dress from the Indianapolis Museum of Art Online Collection.

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.