Rare Early 1970s Malcolm Starr by Youssef Rizkallah Felt Folk Art Dress w Quilted Top
This dress would have been designed while Youssef Rizkallah headed the company. Youseef joined the Malcolm Starr label in 1969 and remained as the head designer until 1975. The years that Youssef headed the line are among some of my favorites and in particular his pieces that utilize quilting and felt patchwork are truly iconic. Rizkallah was born in Egypt and studied at the Ecole de dessin appliqué and the Ecole des arts decoratifs in Paris. His designs seem to combine that sense of couture lines that he gained in Paris with the color and vividness of his homeland. These felt applique pieces are among my favorites of his. This piece is a little extra special as it is a piece that was deaccessioned from FIT museum. It's archive numbered tag from there is found on inner lining of the skirt.
I love these Malcolm Starr pieces - they really are works of art and the best of the sixties/seventies arts and crafts movement. The fabrics for this one combine a cotton for the bodice and a wool for the skirt. The cotton used for the top still has a crisp finish to it. The sleeves are a single layer of the cotton and then the rest of it is a padded quilted cotton that has top stitching and what feels like a touch of padding inside. The skirt has a slight felted finish to it and then onto that are those fantastic felt appliqués. These are both fabrics that hold shape and color beautifully. The bodice is cut to skim over you with a high collar and matching fabric covered buttons that run down the front. It tucks and is attached into the skirt. One interesting thing to note is that is that it is just tacked along the inside waist. What I love about this is that in theory you could actually separate these two so that instead of a one piece you have a separate top and skirt. It would be extremely easy to do and it would make both pieces far more wearable because you could then mix and match them. In fact after seeing this dress I suspect that many of these felted appliqué skirts that you see by him out there for sale once did have an attached top.The waist line is defined with a band with a piped velvet band that circles around and ends in a bow at the front. The skirt has pockets hidden along each seam. I love the appliqué work that runs all the way around the dress. It looks to depict a woman and two boys holding balloons and then this pattern is repeated all the way around. The figures and balloons are all made from appliqued felt that has been applied by hand to the skirt. I love the red band at the bottom that finishes off the skirt. It is the perfect pop of colour to highlight everything else and anchors the piece. It's gorgeous and these felted pieces are among the most desirable of all of the Malcolm Starr pieces out there. Excellent condition with a small note below
Both pieces are fully lined except for the sleeves. Each piece has its own back set zipper to close and the cuffs have hidden set zippers. The piped belt snap and hooks into place around the waist. Pockets along the seams at the front. The buttons at the front are technically functional but the opening has been tacked closed as it's only meant to be decorative. I see grubbiness at the hem along the fold line and the occasional teeny darkening to some of the belt pieces. The pull tab of the zipper pull is missing off the skirt.
Bust: 17" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: 12" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: to 20" flat across from side seam to side seam
Bodice: 16" from top of bodice to waist
Skirt: 44" from waist to hem
Modern Sizing Equivalent: XS-SML
Reference Photo: Lauren Hutton in Malcolm Starr, Vogue 1970.
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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