bill blass

Spring 1985 Bill Blass Dotted Yellow & White Silk Organza Ad Campaign Strapless Dress

An illustration of this dress done in a pink was used in the 1985 ad campaign which gives us an exact date on it. I love that we get to see how the dress translates from his illustration to real life. It is rare the you have a copy of the original sketch to go along with a dress. That plus the fact that it was the sketch used for the ad campaign makes this dress that much more special. Bill Blass worked for the Maurice Retner label for 10 years as the chief designer. In 1968 the Bill Blass Inc label became a subsidiary of the Retner label. Then in 1970 he fully bought out his partners at the Maurice Retner label and re-launched it under his own name as Bill Blass Ltd. 1970 was the same year that he won his third Coty American Fashion Critics' Award and with it, his lifetime membership in the Coty Hall of Fame. By 1980 the company was doing 20 million dollars in revenue. He was arguably one of the most famous of all the American designers. By the eighties his work was even more ornate and luxurious than what he had done in the past. Prices for dresses could be as high as $5000 (which would be about $15,000 today). He was once asked why his clothes were so expensive and he replied, 'I'm an avid believer that we have to have clothes made in this country. Therefore we pay more money. ... The cost of labor and fabrication is what makes the clothing expensive.'

The dress is made from a hand dyed silk organza that has been coloured to the most beautiful shade of yellow. The colour alone makes the dress a showstopper. It is strapless with a very full skirt. On the bodice the yellow silk makes up one half of the top and then the other side is a slightly off-white ivory coloured silk. It is lightly boned and then the fabric has been gathered and wrapped all the way around the bodice. The neckline is curved and the line where the two colours of silk meet on the bodice the resulting line is set on a curve which is very flattering. Under the strapless bodice the skirt falls to the floor in a light and airy pouf of volume. To achieve the volume that you see the skirt has been set into the waist with soft gathers that allow the fabric to have volume and movement. This sits over an inner silk lining but the dress does not have a formal crinoline. The shape created is all from the way it has been constructed. If you wanted it to be very full you could easily add a separate underskirt to really pouf it out more. The dress came with a long matching silk organza sash that wraps around the waist and ties. In the ad they have tied it at the back but for these shots I chose to tie it more towards the side and at the base of the curving line on the bodice. I have tied it in a large bow and because it is made from that same light weight silk organza as the dress it easily holds the shape of the bow. I love the dot and waved line print on the yellow silk. It adds just enough visual interest to the dress without distracting from the beautiful cut. It is gorgeous. Excellent condition with one small note below

Fully lined in a white silk and closes with a back painted metal and nylon zipper. Hand finished throughout. very minor marks on the silk along the back opening over the zipper closure. Please see the photo after the label shot. I see a teeny area of fading and thinning on the scarf. 

Bust: 16" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: 12.5" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: open
Bodice: 10" from top of dress to waist
Skirt: 40" from waist to hem

Modern Sizing Equivalent: XS-SML

Item# DD2596

Reference Photo: Illustration by Bill Blass, Vogue, April 1985.

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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Please review all measurements carefully. More often than not, vintage garments do not fit any size category exactly. If in doubt, measure a garment of your own that fits and is a similar cut and compare it's measurements to the listed measurements below.