Monday, May 18, 2015
Michael Novarese, 1970's Gown: New in the Shop
This gorgeous Michael Novarese gown from the 1970's has so many couture qualities that I thought I would share it here with you. On the hanger, it feels exquisite, so light weight yet built as only a high end gown can be.
Novarese started his design business in 1957, and by the mid-1960's he was showing his collections along with other California designers. Like this dress, his long "after five" gowns for special occasions as well as weddings were being designed in the early 1970s by him (Feb. 1972). He was also known for producing "bold dramatic prints" during that time (Spring 1976) in the same style as the textiles in this gown.
Michael Novarese was known in his day as a California couture designer, along with other California designers at that time: Helga, Charles Cooper, Georgia Bullock, Sebastian, Lucie Ann, Mr. Blackwell, Joanna Nelson, Lee Herman, Stanley Nelson and Helen Rose. He showed with the "California Fashion Creators" and participated in fashion shows on the east coast when few other California designers took the time to travel and present their collections.
This close up view shows the silk chiffon textile. It is a woven design of black chiffon with a gold lame plaid stripe. Over this the floral design has been printed, creating a fabric that is still soft, but glimmers when moving in the light.
I think that the low square neckline, bodice fit and sleeves of this dress are timeless in their simplicity and flattering silhouette. Novarese tended to design dresses for mature women, so he knew how to flatter their best assets.
The softly full skirt has an inverted box pleat at center front. While it lies flat when the wearer is standing, it allows for movement and sitting ease without adding visual or literal bulk around the hips.
The back view is clean, smooth and well fitted. There's nothing here to create a bad fit or unusual problem.
Of interest in the construction of this dress is the application of boning in the side seams. These would keep the bodice smooth and less likely to wrinkle. Bones also could help to keep the bodice in place and the sleeves from falling off of the shoulders.
The neckline is edged in a fine piping that visually give the gathered neckline a sharp edge. It's details like these that make this dress a wonderful example of California couture, designed for the Hollywood social scene or an evening wedding.
This gown has been listed for sale in my Pintuck Style shop. It comes from my long term teaching collection that has a focus on California designers. Because of this, I know it has been carefully stored and preserved, and is in 'like new' condition (as most high end gowns are).
I first found this dress because the high quality textile caught my attention. I can't remember how often it's the textile that makes me notice a dress first. The better the fabric, in general, the better the garment. In this case it was a dramatic find and a wonderful dress to study and document over the years.
More on Michael Novarese: