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Beaded devoré velvet flapper dress

#2584 $950

Beaded devoré velvet flapper dress, c.1926

The simple chemise style of the 1920s was the ideal setting for the explosive creativity in the textile arts. The unstructured flapper dress cried out for elaborate surface decoration. Every technique of embellishment—from beading to the needle arts—was employed, often in ingenious combinations.

Our dress is fashioned from burgundy-hued silk velvet cut to a ground of peacock blue silk chiffon. The rich burgundy velvet has the opulent luxury that Fortuny so admired in Renaissance fabrics. He termed velvet, "the aristocrat of stuffs."

The Chinese palette and large stylized flowers intimate the exoticism of the East. The floral pattern is repeated in crystal beads on the plain chiffon upper bodice. I love the band above the bust, where the beading extends into the velvet pattern.

Other than the superb textile itself, the only embellishment is a long car-wash panel—anchored with a beaded semi-rosette—on each side at the hip.

Our charming, seductive dress is an exemplar in Western fashion of Orientalism, which culled from the various Easts their spellbinding foreignness to make Western costume richer and more exotic.

Although velvet was first made from silk in the Middle Ages, the devoré technique was invented in France only about 100 years ago. The process uses a chemical gel to dissolve (devour or "devoré" in French) cellulose plant fiber to leave shadows of silk chiffon amid deep velvet pile. Devoré velvet became all the rage in the 1920s and is just now making a comeback.

The dress slips on without closures.

The condition is almost excellent. The dress just shows gentle wear.

It measures: 38" bust and waist, 40" hip, and 41" from shoulder to hem. Shortened from the original length, the dress now has a 6" hem. It can easily be let down again if desired.

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