Important 1972 Zandra Rhodes Hand Painted 'Butterfly' Kimono Sleeve Dress w Lily Print & Original Petticoat
It was during a visit to Tokyo in 1971 that Zandra first started sketching lilies after being sent lilies to her hotel room and the resulting print debuted in her 1972 Spring collection. The Lilly prints have become one of her most iconic and best known prints. Pieces from these original collections are hard to find and they are some of the most sought after of all her vintage pieces. The Lily prints also represent the introduction of handwriting and calligraphy into her textile designs. Another point of significance for Zandra is that the Lily dresses were the first dresses that she started applying beading to, which would become a future trademark. Zandra herself once said that she loved these prints and that they 'represent the best of my work'. I also found a reference to them in notes from the V&A Museum: 'Zandra Rhodes considers the Lily prints to be the best of her work, and particularly significant. It was while developing the Lily textiles that she developed the method of reversing the silkscreen to produce a mirror image of the print and create symmetrical patterns. This went on to influence many of her future significant prints, such as 'Lace Mountain', 'Cactus Volcano' and 'Scribble Turnaround'. This dress is a rare find and it is magnificent.
This dress is one of the more complicated of her Lily dresses from that season. Versions of it with ruffled detailing at the collar and edging the sleeves were photoed on Twiggy and Anjelica Huston. I have also included two reference photos of the similar dresses from this collection found in her book 'The Art of Zandra Rhodes'. The skirt of this one is cut the same as those but with even more ruffled netting at the bottom. The sleeves have that same tremendously wide cut that you see on both examples and are gorgeous. Pat Cleveland was also captured modelling a version and you really get a sense of just how full the skirt is from that photo.
The dress is gorgeous. The first thing that you notice is that parts of it are actually the palest mint green that has a touch of blue in it. The colour is brought out in the skirt even more when you wear the matching underskirt that goes with it. This is because the inner part of the underskirt is finished in a pale baby blue silk. When layer over each other you get this amazing depth in textures and colour. To wear the dress you slip on the inner petticoat and then the silk dress is layered over that. The bodice is cut loose and full. The front dips into a low plunge that goes right to the waist. The entire bodice has been hand painted and you can actually feel and see the paint on top of the silk. The front is embellished with her signature flower shaped palettes with a pearl finish. The sleeves are magnificent. They are cut to fall tremendously wide and full. They drop right past the hip at the their longest points and they give the dress that wonderful dramatic feel while playing homage to the trip to Japan that led her to the Lilies print and the culture there that she fell in love with. The waist is a wide gathered elastic band and the skirt below that flows full and soft to the floor. The skirt is a literal work of art. On the upper part of it are her beautiful lilies that have been hand painted onto the silk. Amongst those you see one of her very earliest field of lilies text that she is famous for. Ruffles made of silk netting run down each side and then the entire bottom of the skirt is finished with ruffled ad curved tiers of silk netting. This gives the dress tremendous texture and a sense of romance. The layering and mixing of the ruffles, the netting, the hand painted silk and the play on colours and textures is genius. It is a true work of art. There is some fragility to the silk netting at the hem of the outer layer so please read the condition report below carefully. It is still wearable with care. This is a very rare and special piece. It is a true piece of fashion history. This would be an incredible choice for a bride who does not want a traditional wedding dress or as part of a wedding event. Presents as excellent condition with notes to review below.
The petticoat is made from a blue silk that has layers of soft tulle attached over it. The top layer of tulle on the underskirt has a ruffled silk net lace at the edge of the hem. It closes with hook & eye at the waist. The outer silk chiffon dress slips over the head to wear with elastic running through the waist. I see repairs and changes to the weave in the silk netting all through and around the bottom hems and I would rate some parts of the netting as very fragile and the netting is fragile overall. The silk netting is almost gossamer to start out and it is very delicate. There is so much volume through the skirt that the repairs get lost in the folds and netting. I see one small hole on the top of the front near the shoulder. The decision was made to just steam it out and not have it cleaned to not do anymore damage to the silk netting. It is wearable with care as it is and is in clean sound condition otherwise. Please see the photos after the label shots for the shoulder flaw and examples of the netting.
Note that the size is based on the outer dress. The inner petticoat is currently a XS-SML in size but could be adjusted so I deferred in some to the outer dress.
Shoulders: no defined seam
Sleeves: approx 39" to longest points
Bust: no trued defined side seams
Waist: 15-17" across
Bodice: 13: from neck to top of elastic at waist
Skirt: 51" from top of elastic at waist to longest point at the back hem
Waist: 11-12" flat across from side seam to side seam depending on how you hook it to close. You could easily add some fabric to the waist band to expand this if needed
Length: 42" from waist to hem
Modern Sizing Equivalent: SML-LRG
Reference Photos: (1) Anjelica Huston in Zandra Rhodes, Shot by David Bailey, Vogue UK, September 1973. / (2) Butterfly Dress no. 67, in 'Reverse Lily' print on silk chiffon; ruffles and frills on skirt in net; and satin sash. / (3) Twiggy on the cover of Vogue (top) and photograph for Harpers Bazaar (in Butterfly no. 67) (bottom). / (4) Butterfly Dress no. 70 - Off shoulder crinoline, in 'Reverse Lily' print on silk chiffon; net curtain ruching and frills in skirt. / (5) Pat Cleveland modelling Butterfly no. 70. (Last four photos from the book "The Art of Zandra Rhodes").
This garment has been professionally steamed and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.
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