Stunning Valentino Haute Couture (1960s)

By the mid-1960s, Valentino was a favorite designer of the world’s best-dressed women.

Valentino’s international debut took place in 1962, at the Pitti Palace in Florence. The show cemented the designer’s reputation and attracted the attention of socialites and aristocratic women from around the world. Within a few years, Valentino’s designs were considered the pinnacle of Italian couture. In 1967, he received the prestigious Neiman Marcus Fashion Award.

His client list included the Begum Aga Khan, Queen Paola of Belgium and movie stars Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn. Jacqueline Kennedy developed an interest in the designer’s work after admiring friends in several Valentino ensembles. In 1964, Kennedy ordered six dresses in black and white, which she wore during the year following the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy (source).

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In July 1962 in the last hour on the last day of the Autumn shows Valnetino was given an opportunity to present a collection that became known as Sala Bianca. The designs were showcased at the stunning ball room, the White Hall, of the Pitti Palce. Overnight, Valentino Garavani was famous internationally via

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Valentino Fashion Show, Salla Bianca, Palazzo Pitti, Firenze, 1964 via

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In 1964 Jacqueline Kennedy chose a Valentino dress for the wedding with Aristotle Onassis. The gown was a part of the Sfilata Bianca collection shown in 1968. If Valentino was a fashion darling of the global press and buyers before, Sfilata Bianca (and its connection to Jackie Onassis) was the final step in conquering the States and securing his position as one of the best and most influential fashion designers of our time via

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Valentino, Ensemble, photographed by Henry Clarke, 1968 via

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Valentino, Vogue, 1968 via

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Veruschka, Valentino, Vogue, 1965 via

Jean Patou Dress by André Durst (1939)

French fashion designer Jean Patou ( 1880-1936) was the founder of the Jean Patou brand.

Patou’s clothes were marketed mostly to rich American women. When the stock market crashed, however, so did the market for luxury fashion. The House of Patou survived through its perfumes, which remain well known today.

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Jean Patou, Dress, photographed by André Durst for Vogue, 1939 via

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Jean Patou, Dress, photographed by André Durst for Vogue, 1939 via

A Collection of Photos Feat. Old Hollywood Costumes by Travis Banton

Travis Banton (1894 – 1958) was the chief designer at Paramount Pictures. He is considered one of the most important Hollywood costume designers of the 1930s.

An early apprenticeship with a high-society costume dressmaker earned him fame. When Mary Pickford selected one of his dresses for her wedding to Douglas Fairbanks, his reputation was established.

He opened his own dressmaking salon in New York City, and soon was asked to create costumes for the Ziegfeld Follies. In 1924, Travis Banton moved to Hollywood when Paramount contracted with him to create costumes for his first film, The Dressmaker from Paris.

Glamour, understated elegance, and exquisite fabrics endeared Travis Banton to the most celebrated of Hollywood’s beauties and made him one of the most sought-after costume designers of his era.

Because of his alcoholism and reputedly also at the instigation of his subordinate Edith Head, Banton was forced to leave Paramount. He started his own business and also designed for Twentieth Century-Fox from 1939-1941 and Universal from 1945-1948.

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Marlene Dietrich in “The Devil is a Woman,” 1935. Costume by Travis Banton via

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Claudette Colbert in “Tonight is Ours” 1933, costume by Travis Banton via

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Anna May Wong in “Limehouse Blues” 1934, costume by Travis Banton via

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Lucille Ball in “Lover Come Back” 1946, costume by Travis Banton via

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Carole Lombard in “Rumba”, 1935. Costume by Travis Banton via

Early 20th Century Couture by Mariano Fortuny (1871 – 1949)

Spanish-born artist and designer Mariano Fortuny (1871 – 1949) was active in Italy, where he established a textile workshop and a commercial silk printing factory. The multi-tasked artist spent most of his life in Venice where he was an architect, couturier, inventor and painter.

Working in the early 20th century, Fortuny’s gowns were especially popular among the avant garde women of ’20s and ’30s who were seeking both freedom of movement and a hint of exoticism in their wardrobe.

Fortuny rebelled against the style lines that were popular during his time period and created the Delphos gown, a shift dress made of finely pleated silk weighed down by glass beads that held its shape and flowed on the body. The pleating that he used was all done by hand and no one has been able to recreate pleating that is as fine as his or has held its shape like his dresses have for many years. He also manufactured his own dyes and pigments for his fabrics using ancient methods. With these dyes he began printing on velvets and silks and dyed them using a press that he invented with wooden blocks that he engraved the pattern onto. His dresses are seen as fine works of art today and many survive, still pleated, in museums and many people’s personal collections.

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Mrs. William Wetmore Modeling a Delphos Gown, Photograph by Lusha Nelson. Originally published in Vogue, December 15, 1935. via

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George Platt Lynes, Mai-Mai Sze, Dress by Mariano Fortuny, 1934 via

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Mariano Fortuny, Delphos Gown, 1920s via

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Mariano Fortuny, Lillian Gish in Delphos Gown, 1910s via

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Countess Elsie Lee Gozzi wearing an Eleanora dress, 1920s via

A Collection of Vintage Fashion by Charles James

Though he had no formal training, he is now regarded as one of the greatest designers in America to have worked in the tradition of Haute Couture. After designing in his native London, and then Paris, James arrived in New York City in 1940. The same year he opens Charles James, Inc. custom design business on East Fifty-seventh Street, New York. In 1943 James begins designing custom creations for Elizabeth Arden. One of his most successful collections opened in Paris in 1947 at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée. In the 1950s he spent most of his time in New York.

James looked upon his dresses as works of art, as did many of his customers. Year after year he reworked original designs, ignoring the sacrosanct schedule of seasons. The components of the precisely constructed designs were interchangeable so that James had a never-ending fund of ideas on which to draw. He is most famous for his sculpted ball gowns made of lavish fabrics and to exacting tailoring standards; in 1955 James created the Balloon dress with high Empire waist and voluminous folds and the Butterfly sheath dress with enormous bustle.  He is also remembered for his capes and coats, often trimmed with fur and embroidery, his spiral zipped dresses, and his white satin quilted jackets.

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Charles James (in black) with models during one of his fashion show, photographed by Eliot Elisofon, ca. 1950 via

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Dominique de Menil at home, dressed in Charles James and on Charles James couch, ca. 1951 via

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Charles James Butterfly Gown 1954, photo by Cecil Beaton via

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Austine Hearst in Charles James Four Leaf Clover Dress, ca. 1953 via

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Charles James, Dresses, 1959 via

A Collection of Photos Feat. Belle Epoque Dresses by Jeanne Paquin

Jeanne Paquin (1869 – 1936) was a leading French fashion designer, who created alongside her husband, Isidore Paquin, an influential couture business. In 1890 the couple opened Maison de Couture Rue de la Paix in Paris, close to the celebrated House of Worth.

The Maison Paquin quickly became known for its eighteenth century-inspired pastel evening dresses and tailored day dresses, as well as for its numerous publicity stunts, including organizing fashion parades to promote her new models and sending her models to operas and races in order to show off her designs. Jeanne Paquin withdrew from the House in 1920. She was a beautiful woman and a style icon herself, who imagined youthful and exquisite garments

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Jeanne Paquin, 1910 via

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Jeanne Paquin, 1910 via

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Jeanne Paquin. Evening gown. Reutlinger, Les Modes May 1902 via

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Jeanne Paquin. Afternoon dress by Paquin. Reutlinger, Les Modes May 1902 via

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Jeanne Paquin. Tailored suits by Paquin. Félix, Les Modes June 1909 via