Fall 1980 Mary McFadden Pleated Two Colour Sleeve Dress w Bead Detail
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. Earlier pieces like this one had much of the work in them finished by hand and were done in house. 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.' The label on this dress pre-dates the mass production of her garments and has hand fineshed detailing in it unlike later pieces.
This dress is made from the McFadden's signature pleating technique. The construction of this dress makes it extremely easy to wear. The pleating gives it the comfort of a bias cut dress and it is very sexy while still feeling refined. Its loose and easy cut through the body make it a breeze to wear. You just slip it on and feel fabulous. The fabric drapes around you and the lightness of is still shows the body underneath but in a very subtle way. The dress falls to the floor from the shoulder and just skims over the full length of your body. There is a seam at the low skirt that breaks the line. This gives it that little bit of extra detail and movement. It also balances out the sleeves. It is on the longer side which is a rare thing to find in her dresses. As she progressed in her career she preferred to design pieces that ended well above the ankle so you could see the shoe underneath. Her longer pieces are a bit rarer and harder to find. The sleeves are spectacular. Each is cut on a curve with an inner seam to give them some structure. One is black and the other the same beige neutral colour as the body of the dress. They are extremely full at the tops of the shoulders and then taper down to the wrist. What is remarkable is that there is a tiny bit of light padding inside the shoulder but the shape you see really comes from the way the fabric has been placed and sewn into the body of the dress. Each arm has a ring of dense beading that curve around the top of the arm. These sit independently of the dress except for where they are attached at the top of the shoulder so have a bit of movement when you move. No matter how good it is in the photos it is better in person and would still feel incredibly avant grade and on point for today's runways. It is beautiful and a rare example of her earlier work. Excellent condition
Unlined and slips on to wear with a keyhole and hook and eye closure at the back of the neck. Hand finishes. The dress is tagged a size 4 but should fit a range of sizes as the style is very easy to wear and forgiving. It looks to have been worn very little if at all. There are some tiny little snags on the fabric here and there but nothing that really effect its presentation. The dress has a more grey beige tone to it in person.
Sleeves: approx 26"
Slightly inset shoulders: 14"
Bust: will stretch to at least 23" flat across from side seam to side seam
Length: 54" from neck to hem
Modern Sizing Equivalent: XS-MED, maybe a large if you are not terrible broad across the shoulders
Reference Photos: Fall 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.
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