patrick kelly

Iconic Fall 1989 Patrick Kelly Off Shoulder Leopard Stretch Velvet Dress

Patrick Kelly is a celebrated African American designer and his work will be seen in the planned exhibit 'Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love' this October at San Francisco’s de Young Museum. It is an expanded version of the original 2014 exhibit that showed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Kelly opened his atelier in 1988 in Paris and quickly became an sensation. Laura Camerlengo, the associate curator of costume and textile arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, said of his work in an interview; 'He was a trailblazer. He was born during the time of the segregated south, grew out of that most racist violent environment, and worked his way to Atlanta, to New York and to become the toast of Paris who had a successful multimillion-dollar company when he died. And remarkably, he was lauded with accolades while being and remaining one of the few designers of any colour to directly address race in his work. Kelly was a pioneer of the “black camp” aesthetic.' His runway shows triggered a wide range of emotions and often made people justifiably uncomfortable. Which was exactly what he intended. Kelly was the first black American designer to be voted into the governing body of the French fashion industry, Fédération Française de la Couture. This is a dress that is instantly recognizable as being one of his pieces. He did series of leopard dresses for the 1989 season and this off shoulder version is one of my absolute favourites. Its twin waked the runway so you can see just how amazing it is in the reference photos. Versions were all over the editorials that year as well. It is a very rare piece and with the attention on American fashion because of the Met exhibit theme this year, it is an even more exciting find. 

This super sexy leopard print stretch velour velvet Patrick Kelly dress is wonderful. The fabric is fantastic and will stretch to hug your curves and show off every bit of the body. That said the velvet keeps it flattering and easy to wear as it gives support at the same time it mold to the body. Kelly cut this one so that is can be worn on or off the shoulder while keeping the sleeves long and lean. On the runway it was shown off the shoulder and that is how I prefer it too. That bare expanse of skin is the perfect contrast to the coverage of the dress. The cut through the body hugs your every curve and the dress is molded to your frame all the way down to the hem. The stretch the fabric has is what allows you to walk as there are no slits or vents in the skirt. The cut is super fitted through the body and that leopard print just makes it completely fantastic. It is a showstopper and an amazing example of this time period and of his work. I love everything about this dress and that it is a true piece of fashion history that is extremely well documented. Excellent condition.

Unlined and slips on to wear with no closures. The printed velour finish velvet has stretch. Elastic through the neckline. The dress appears to have never been worn. The measurements provided are the comfortable range of stretch when laying flat. The stretch fabric should allow it to fit a range of sizes. 

Sleeves: 21" but sit off the shoulder so sit longer on the arm 
Bust: 17-21" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist:14-18" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: 16-21" flat across from side seam to side seam
Length: 52" from top of the neckline to hem

Modern Sizing Equivalent: XS-LRG

Item# DD3742

Reference Photos: (1-2) F/W 1989 Patrick Kelly Runway Collection.  /  (3) Iman in Patrick Kelly, 1989.  /  (4) Model in Patrick Kelly. Photographed by Rico Puhlmann for Harper’s Bazaar, August 1989.

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.