Incredible 1970s John Anthony Glossy Black Completely Hand Beaded Runway Sample Dress
John has dived into his archives once more for me and today I have two more of the dresses he sent for you with one last one to come still. This is a runway piece from the early seventies just after he launched his label. Like the ivory coloured one already in the shop, the bead work on the dress was done by hand by Madame Gandini, who did beading for many of the Couture houses of the day. John is one of my favorite American designers and right out of the gate he won the Coty Award for his work. The first time in 1972 and then again in 1976. He designed clothes that were simple and elegant but glamorous. His work veers towards minimalism with sharp tailoring. Striking evening wear was his signature and he is renowned for his cutting and tailoring. It is an extraordinary privilege to have pieces directly from his archives and these are things you will never see again.
John's business was all done on a made to order basis. That means the majority of pieces you will find are a one-off, or if there are similar pieces, very few of each piece exist. This personal attention to each dress is clearly seen in the workmanship of his pieces. His work is very expensive and beaded pieces like this sold for over $10,000 even in the 1970s. If you convert that to modern dollars you get to about $68,000 which is incredibly still less then a modern couture pieces done to this level would be. Having this actual runway samples that John pulled from his own archives to share with you is just amazing.
This is an amazing dress that is heavily and densely beaded. The base of the gown is made of an black silk chiffon and then onto that are thousands of vertical rows of glossy black glass tube beads laid out in to fully cover every square inch of the dress. The dress is already spectacular on its own and the addition of the thousands and thousands of glass tube beads give the dress an extra layer of texture and glamour. Every square inch of the dress catches the light and sparkles. As a result the dress is fairly heavy off the body. We weighed it and it is almost 10 pounds because of that extensive bead-work. Yet once on the body it perfectly drapes over you in a way that it is balanced and not at all unwieldy. The impact of all those beads from head to toe is stunning in the light. If you even remotely love it in the photos you will gasp to see it in real life. This needs a body to give it a life of its own and the camera cannot capture just how gorgeous it is and how the beads catch the light. The cut is sublimely simple. The bodice has a high collar and the bead work there is done in a slightly different pattern so that it has just a bit of added detailing. The rest of the dress falls from there in a beautiful column of beads to skim over you all the way to the floor. There is just a suggestion of the waist and it skims over the hips. The sleeves are long and equally as simply. They have that same slightly different bead work to give them a cuffed detail that is perfect. The back is just one long column of the bead work. The skirt widens out just a touch as it nears the hem and there is an extremely high slit up the back. You don't get as much sense of it in these photos but once on the body this really adds a high flash of bare leg as you walk away. It is insanely sexy. As good as it photoed, the effect that this dress has once it is on an actual body is far more dramatic and fabulous. If you even remotely love it in the photos you will dance when you see it in person as it is so much better in real life. It is completely made by hand and you would never be able to find its modern equivalent. It is stunning. Excellent condition
Fully lined in a black silk chiffon and it closes at the back with a metal and nylon zipper. Hand finished throughout. As noted above it has a good weight to it since it is fully beaded from top to bottom with glass beads but feels balanced when on and comfortable. There is perhaps the occasional bead missing here and there but no bare areas. Numbered sample tag on the inner hem.
Sleeves: 22" and 10" around the upper arm
Bust: 16.5" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: 15" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: to 18.5" flat across from side seam to side seam
Length: 59" from neck to hem
Back Slit: 30.5" from hem up
Modern Sizing Equivalent: XXS-SML
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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