thea porter

Rare 1977 Thea Porter Couture Green Fused Velvet Open Front Abaya Caftan

This Thea Porter caftan was made in 1977 and I was pleased to find a copy of Thea's original sketch for this style of caftan worn over a pair of wide legged pants. That sketch also appears in the 2015 book "Thea Porter: Bohemian Chic". These open front versions were especially loved for their versatility and ability to 'hide the body beneath the billowing forms, with transparent fabrics hunting subtly at the female form'. Of all of Thea's pieces, her caftans have come to represent Thea's work like no other piece of her clothing that she designed. Elizabeth Taylor was a huge fan and collector. By the end of Taylor's life she had amassed a large collection of Thea's work that was auctioned off through Christie's in 2011. Many of the caftans in that auction fetched well over the $20,000USD mark and a burgundy version of this one sold at the auction for USD $8125. Each of Thea’s caftans ere made by hand and no two are alike.

The caftan is very beautiful and is made from a plush devore velvet on a silk chiffon base. She has used the same velvet for the top and bottom portion of the caftan but has set them to that the pile of the velvet goes on the opposite direction. This causes the velvet to catch the light differently and in person the effect is gorgeous. Around the neck and down the back is a raw silk panel that is both embroidered and detailed with hand set beading. Green silk piped ribbon is set along the edges of the caftan to highlight its shape. At the sides and front this piping extends out to tassels that hang down and move when you move. Thea was known to hunt antique stores and markets during her extensive travels and use what she found in her designs so some of the elements used may be found antique textiles. The caftan is unlined and once it is on you see that velvet fused chiffon is semi-transparent. This see-through quality makes is very sexy despite the full coverage it has. The front tassels tie to hold it closed. You can easily add a soft belt to add shape like the one shown in the reference photo that was owned by Elizabeth Taylor. A very special piece, worthy of its book noted provenance. Excellent condition with a minor note below

Unlined and slips on to wear. Its easy and open shape should allow it to fit just about any size. There is one small darkening on the back silk. Please see the photo after the label shot. Some of the silk has worn a touch on the ends of the tassels here and there

Width: 37" side to side at widest point
Length: 48" from neck to hem

Modern Sizing Equivalent: OSFA

Item# DD3415

Reference Photos: (1) Thea Porter sketch of a devoré velvet open-fronted version of the abaya, 1977.  /  (2) Previous sketch shown in the book "Thea Porter: Bohemian Chic" by Laura McLaws Helms and Venetia Porter.  /  (3) 1977 Thea Porter from Christie's.

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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