rare 1950s Travilla silk brocade coat + dress set


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The fabric alone is absolutely beautiful. This late 1950’s/early 1960’s authentic William Travilla dress and coat set are expertly tailored from a fine silk satin brocade that changes from a bright golden-yellow at the top to a deep brown toward the bottom. The intricate brocade is sewn with a gold metallic thread. This fabric is one of the most stunning fabrics I have ever seen. A Travilla dress of the same fabric was worn by Joanne Woodward in the 1960 movie, From the Terrace. The dress has an elegant cut, square neckline, short sleeves with a fitted bust and waist. The skirt has wide double box pleats to the sides of the waist and around the back. A bow above each pleat in the front, which was one of Travilla’s signature touches in this collection. The skirt is lined with a mix of net and silk organza with a brown silk underskirt sewn inside. Metal zipper up the back. Labels include “Travilla” and the dress shop “Jenny”. The matching coat is lavish. A collar running to the waistline which crosses in the front, closing with a hook and eye. Two bows at the waist mimicking the dress. 3/4 length tapered sleeves and a back pleat running from the neck to the waist. The skirt of the coat is full with large box pleats around the front, one in the back with two kick pleats toward the hem. The coat is fully lined with a beautiful deep brown silk satin. Labels include the dress shop, “Jenny, Cincinnati, Ohio” and a 16 size label.

Fashion designer William Travilla is best known for his costume design on eight Marilyn Monroe films, designing her notorious white halter dress from The Seven Year Itch. He began his clothing line in the early 1950’s, while continuing his costume design work for films and designing for Monroe and other stars.

Condition: Best for display purposes or worn with extreme care. The silk fabric has several wear spots, most prominent on the right shoulder of the jacket as shown in the close-ups where there is a hole from the frayed fabric. The fabric around the rip on the shoulder is fragile. The silk brocade fabric is loomed with a black inner layer and these spots are black due to the inner black fabric. There are other wear spots here and there on both the dress and coat, but not blatant due to the busy fabric. Also, there is an area on the skirt that feels fragile and has two small splits (see photos). The coat lining has no flaws. The organza lining of the dress has some splitting as does the brown silk underskirt. The dress has been altered along the zipper and shortened a couple of inches. An important piece of fashion history, especially considering Travilla pieces from this era are very difficult to find.

Bust: @43″/44″
Waist: 31″
Hips: 44″(lining is fitted)
Width Between Shoulder Seams: @15″/15 1/2″
Length: 42″
Skirt Length: 25″


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