Dessès Vogue #1313 & Jean Dessès Couture Mini-Biography

Here is a gorgeous sewing pattern designed by Jean Dessès in 1955. The gown, with its accompanying scarf, calls for nearly 13 yards of fabric!

Below, I located a gorgeous image of the gown in the Nov. 1, 1955 issue of Vogue magazine. The description reads:

Dessès' evening dress of back-blown satin roses and fichu. Important thing to watch: your centre seam.... With a printed fabric you may want an extra quarter yard for "play." Beautiful, too, in brocade, damask. No. 1313.

Vogue Magazine, Nov. 1, 1955, Desses pattern #1313, FORLANO

Here is the line drawing, depicted in the same issue:

Line Drawing of Desses #1313, Vogue Magazine, Nov 1, 1955
Line Drawing of Desses #1313, Vogue Magazine, Nov 1, 1955

The couture dress was also prominently featured in the September 1955 issue of L’Officiel:

Desses gown, L’Officiel, September 1955
Gown by Dessès, L’Officiel, September 1955

Jean Dessès may no longer be a household name, but he was a dominant Haute Couture fashion designer for nearly three decades. His fascination with draping and classical form resulted in gowns of great technical complexity. Notice the intricate pleating across the bodice, which is supported by a sewn-in, boned under-bodice.

The young Valentino apprenticed at the house of Dessès, and his influence continues to inform Valentino's house code to this day. [1] Do you notice the similarities between the two dresses, above and below?

Dessès was Greek, but born in Egypt, and he studied law in Alexandria. At a young age, he designed a dress for his mother, and by age 19, he followed his heart and became a dressmaker. In 1937 he opened his own salon at 17 Avenue Matignon, in the house once owned by the Eiffel family, and by 1938 his fashion collection was a success. He created exquisite draped ball gowns in chiffon and mousseline, influenced by his heritage and inspired by early Greek and Egyptian robes. [2]

Below is another stunning gown, with a stole, that he designed in 1948.

Jean Dessès was also one of the forty French fashion designers involved in the Paris fashion doll exhibition called "Theatre de la Mode," in 1945-1946. This fashion exhibition presented mannequin dolls of approximately 1/3 the size of human scale, crafted by top Paris fashion designers. [3]

The war had a severe impact on the industry. Clothing businesses that struggled to remain open had to deal with extreme shortages of cloth, thread, and other sewing supplies. To raise money, the designers created an exhibition with these dolls and showed in the Louvre museum. It subsequently went on to tour Europe and the US. Below is Dessès’ doll beside the list of the 40 couturiers:

Left: Jean Dessès doll, Right: List of 40 French Couturiers

Jean Dessès died in 1970, at age 65.

Although today’s studied fashionistas and the fashion elite do recognize Dessès’ exquisite body of work, unfortunately, he’s largely a forgotten dressmaker. I hope by recreating this dress, I’ll help, in a tiny way, to carry his name into the future.

I'm excited to show you the construction details of this eye-catching evening gown by Jean Dessès!


[2] Odulate, Funmi. Shopping for Vintage: the Definitive Guide to Vintage Fashion. St. Martin's Griffin, 2008.


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