norman norell

Incredible 1963 Norman Norell Black Crepe Button Dress Twin Worn by Judy Garland

Norman Norell was one of the great American designers. His clothes were wildly expensive in their day and he was credited for the unique ability to translate Paris couture into American ready-to-wear. He started in the film industry and then was hired by Hattie Carnegie. In 1941 he left and and joined Anthony Traina where the Traina-Norell label soon appeared. Upon Traina's retirement in 1960 he launched his own self-named label. He won the very first Coty American Fashion Critics' award ever given in 1943 and then won it again in 1951. In 1956 he became the first designer to earn a place in the Coty Hall of Fame. His signature styles for day ran the gamut from shirtwaists, suits, beautifully tailored coats and clothes that seemed simple at first glance but were logistically complex. Norman himself once said 'To qualify as a designer one should not be afraid to repeat a good design, and certainly must have his own signature'. He achieved that and more. I think every serious vintage collector should have a piece of his work in their archives.

Judy Garland wore the twin of this dress in 1963 and I wish that I could tell you this was the actual dress but I have no provenance to tell me that it is. This was one of Judy Garland's most iconic photos and it is amazing to have found the twin of it. It is a stunning dress and despite being almost 60s years old it still feels chic and modern

Norman Norell dresses were cut with an exception eye. Every line and seam is placed exactly where it should be to flatter the body. This particular dress is a fabulous example of his work during this time period. The dress is made from a wool crepe that is light in weight and has a bit of texture to it. The neckline is squared off and the sleeves are capped. There is an attached piped belt made in the same fabric that hides the seam under the bust and adds a pretty little detail. It is cut to hug the bust and the squared off neckline is fairly low to show some skin. It skims over the wait and hips and then from there it falls to the floor and gently widens out as it nears the hem. It closes with a row of tightly spaced buttons that run down on side. These start at the top of the neckline and  and run all the way down to about the knee leaving an unbuttoned area that you get a flash of leg seen below. All of the buttons are functional and each has a perfectly and properly tailored buttonhole. The dress is made to demi-couture standards and the finishes within it are superb. I love it and it is a wonderful and beautifully documented piece of his work from this time period. Excellent condition.

Fully lined in a fine black silk and closes at the front with the buttons as shown. The attached belt ties into place. Proper button holes finishes on all. Hand finished throughout and made to demi-couture standards.

Shoulders: 14"
Bust: 16-17.5" flat across from side seam to side seam
Seam under the bust: 14" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: to 18" flat across from side seam to side seam
Bodice: 10.5" from shoulder to seam under bust
Skirt: 43" from waist to hem, with 2" turned under the hem

Modern Sizing Equivalent: SML-MED

Item# DD3377

Reference Photo: Judy Garland in Norman Norell by Richard Avedon, New York, January 7 1963.

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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