Crahay of Ricci, Construction and Finished Dress Vogue #1017

The 1960 Crahay of Ricci dress is finished!

This dress was so popular in its era, I found another image of it in Life Magazine from 1960. The original is made with silk organza.

Crahay for Ricci, Life Magazine, March 1960
Crahay for Ricci, Life Magazine, March 14, 1960, Mark Shaw

I made my version using a double-duchesse fabric from Fishman's Fabric in Chicago.

To give the dress the structure it needed, I was frightful of using organza, since organza is sheer, and I didn't want all the inner work to show through the dress. This is why I chose a double-duchesse, instead of organza.

The bodice is boned with six spiral steel bones. I haven’t yet found a better way to dry the tipping fluid, so drying the bones on a notion container will have to do!

As mentioned in a previous post, the fabric is cut on the cross-grain. The bodice front is shaped using millinery wire which is hand-sewn into place along the seam line.

The spiral steel boning is inserted into black boning channels.

The dress was demanding, with all the hand sewing, but, then, with much shock and horror, the instructions asked for the seamstress to machine-top-stitch along the front edges of the overskirt and the bodice front, .75 inches from the edge! Naturally, I was nervous during this step, but trusted the process.

Secretly, I was pouting because it would have been easier if the belt and shoulder straps were machine top-stitched, which would have saved me hours of work. However, Crahay designed the dress otherwise; the belt and shoulder straps were stitched by hand.

The dress turned out to be more structured compared to the original made in organza.

Here's a peek inside the dress. You'll notice I inserted a small privacy panel to avoid the risk of a possible wardrobe malfunction!

The skirt is supported with a petticoat that has 5” horsehair braid sewn at the hem.

Overall, I am very happy with the way it turned out. The most surprising part of this dress was the machine top-stitching. I don't think I've ever done that for a couture dress before, but the instructions from the designer always have a reason.

I will leave you with another vintage image I found of the dress. Isn't the dress gorgeous?

As you can see, this Crahay for Ricci dress was a popular style in 1959/1960. Although Crahay is no longer a household name, he was a celebrity dressmaker during this era. He greatly influenced the direction of French couture with his signature style.