Constructing the c. 1955 Jean Dessès Gown, V1313


By 1952, Jean Dessès was admired for his exquisite color combinations, based principally on burgundy, claret, wine, black, and grey. (NY Times, August 5, 1952, Jean Dessès Shows Soft and Fluid Lines).


I went back and forth, deciding if this dress should be a solid, or in a print. The original haute couture dress was created using a floral print.

I decided to use an haute couture fabric designed by Emanuel Ungaro, using Dessès’ signature burgundy and neutral tones for this dress, to keep true to his colors, but allowing me to experiment with a modern print design.





But first, an underdress made from taffeta, boned with synthetic whalebone, had to be created. This underdress provided the shape and structure that the gown required. Two layers of net were attached right above the hip line.




The dress required ties made from 1/2” cording. The cording cover was constructed using 2 1/4” bias from self fabric.


The fashion fabric was hand sewn and pieced on top of the underdress.

Today’s popular method of garment sewing usually involves sewing together a dress separately, which is then placed on top of a crinoline or petticoat. This haute couture method is different, because it requires building and sewing each individual piece on top of the underdress - by hand. We are essentially piecing and sculpting with cloth, needle, and thread.


This haute couture method is different, because it requires building and sewing each individual piece on top of the underdress - by hand. We are essentially piecing and sculpting with cloth, needle, and thread.

Here’s what the dress looks like inside, after piecing together the fashion fabric on top of the corselette.




The shoulder straps were omitted. I felt the 1/2 inch cording gave it too "sporty" of a look, and diminished its elegant lines. All of the inner seams were hand-overcast, and the hem was turned up and whipped into place.





Here's the dress turned inside out.




The dress is incredibly heavy and it was a bit cumbersome to sew and finish by hand. The wearer of the dress will be carrying around the weight of nearly 30 yards of fabric, if one counts the underlining, and the underskirt!


The busy fabric selection hid the pleats in the back, but the volume is still there.





The bolero can be worn with the bow in the front or the back.



I hope you enjoyed reading along with this 1955 Dessès dress journey with me. The timeless elegance of this gown is still relevant for today. I can't wait for an elegant evening event to wear this creation.











549 views6 comments

Recent Posts

See All