Gorgeous 1970s Mary McFadden Black & Ivory Cross Over Plunge Front & Back Pleated Dress
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 McFadden's fabric in her signature pleating technique. Like many of her best pieces the construction of this dress hearkens back to ancient Greece. The pleating gives it the comfort of a bias cut and it is very sexy while still feeling refined. It is cut to plunge at both the front and back. Both sides of the dress are cut to cross over themselves and I love the play on the colour with one side done in black and the other in a creamy ivory. The fabric drapes around you and the lightness of it skims over your body underneath and it is very flattering. The bodice is cut to skim over you from the shoulder to the hip. It is made to give the illusion that the two colours are wrapped and set over each other. One side in an ivory and the other black. The skirt underneath that is done in a solid black to give you a long lean feel. It is cut 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 so the longer pieces are a bit rarer and harder to find. The sleeves are spectacular. Each sleeve is also made from the pleated fabric and falls long and straight to the wrist. The pleats allow the sleeves to fan open when you move though so they seem wider. One is black and the other is ivory and then those colours carry into the bodice for that graphic feel. Each has a very tiny bit of light padding in the shoulder but once on the body have a soft feel to them. The front and back plunge into a V which just balances everything out perfectly. No matter how good it is in the photos it is better in person and it is wonderful once on the body. It is beautiful and a rare example of her earlier work. Excellent condition
Unlined and closes with a hidden set side zipper. Hand finishes. The easy cut and give of the fabric should allow it to fit a range of sizes. 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 is a slightly more creamy ivory then how it photoed.
Sleeves: approx 22"
Slightly inset shoulders: approx 15.5"
Bust: will stretch to at least 23" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: will stretch 12-15" flat across from side seam to side seam
The seam across the top of the hips that is 18" down from the shoulder will stretch to 17" across max
Hips under that seam: open
Length: 59" from shoulder to hem at the front and 59" to the back
Modern Sizing Equivalent: SML-MED
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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