Stunning 1970s James Galanos Colour Black Silk Tafetta Dress w Ruffled Waist Detailing
James Galanos was just 27 years old when he launched his first label called Galanos Originals in 1951. By 1954 he had won a Coty award and the Neiman Marcus award. By 1958 he was producing clothing that could range in price from $200 to $3000, an astronomical price for ready-to-wear for that time period. when you convert that to modern dollars and realize that it would be just under 30k for his upper range pieces. Part of the reason for those high price tags was that his ready-to-wear was made to couture standards. The workmanship and craft put into them were made to a level that was on par with the official French couturiers. Galanos was a master cutter and draper. Grace Kelly was an early fan and other couturiers looked to his work as inspiration. His work is held in all of the major museums around the world and he is one of my personal favourite designers.
This particular dress reminds me of the pink colour blocked one that was worn so famously by Gloria Vanderbilt. It has that same feel created by his use of different panels of colour through the skirt. This is a technique that he used on several occasions and in several fabrics. The Vanderbilt dress for example was a silk chiffon and I have seen a darker, more column cut version in a silk jersey. This one is made from a silk taffeta and that choice of fabric keeps the dress extremely light while allowing it to have that wonderful volume that you see. The dress is extraordinary and is a testament to the couture construction techniques that he utilized in his work. The bodice is fitted with a slight sweetheart feel to the neckline. It is suspended by two tiny silk straps. The top port of the dress is lined in a silk but has no inner boning. It is meant to skim and hug the body underneath rather then to force a shape. The waist nips in and the skirt is set to feel very full with multiple soft gathers around the waist to create the fullness that you see. The skirt is made of four panels of silk taffeta, at the front here is a green on one side and a chocolate colour panel on the other. At the back both panels are the same blue as the bodice. All of the edges are finished with a gold cord that has been hand applied stitch by stitch. At the front the skirt is split quite high so that when you walk or sit you get an very unexpected flash of bare leg. The silk taffeta is so light that when you walk the skirt has a billowing effect behind you that it just magical. There are no extra underskirts added for these shots. All the volume of the skirt that you see has been created by the cut and the fabric alone. Around the waist the fabric from the silk has been gathered and held in place by more of that gold cording and then the edges of the fabric is set in an elaborate series of ruffles above that. This creates the prettiest ruffled finish that wraps all the way around you, cinches you in, and adds a pretty touch of romance. The work is all hand finished and all the inner seams have a beautiful ribbon finish. This is truly a stunning dress. Excellent condition
Unlined and closes with a back zipper. Ribbon edge interior seams. It appears to have been worn very little if at all.
Bust: 16" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: 12" flat across from side seam to side seam
Bodice: 17" from top of shoulder to waist seam
Skirt: 42" from waist to hem
Front slit: 26" from hem up
Modern Sizing Equivalent: XXS-XS
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