My next recreation is this Paris Original Model, #1265, designed by Jacques Fath. It was released in 1954 by Conde Nast. This was one of Fath's last designs, because he died at the young age of 42 from leukemia, that same year.
The dress feels timelessly elegant to me. It is built over a boned corselette. Soft drapery crosses over the bust with separate ties at the shoulders.
Fath was an extraordinarily influential designer during his era, and he was considered one of the three giants of postwar fashion (the others: Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain).
A few years ago, I connected, by happenstance, with the son of a Jacques Fath seamstress who worked at Fath's atelier in Paris during the golden age of couture. I met her son while discussing a Balmain couture item that she had owned. His mother worked as a seamstress for Fath in the early 50's, before moving over to the house of Balmain.
I often wonder if his mother worked on the very dress that we see above! While I won't share his personal photos of his mother on this blog, what was evident in each photo was the fun and collegiality amongst the seamstresses. They seemed to be enjoying one another's company. Jacques, himself, sits comfortably at the center of it all.
Some of this frivolity can be seen in this article published in a French newspaper, of Fath, surrounded by his seamstresses. Here they are, dressed in costume, with Jacques Fath, celebrating Saint Catherine's Day. In the photo, his mother is furthest to the right, facing the camera.
I came across a photo of the dress in the May 15, 1954 issue of Vogue Magazine.
The description in Vogue Magazine for this late day "corset-waisted" dress reads:
"Not for everybody, not for the country. But the newest thing Fath does..."the corset-waisted dress," here short, for evening. The woman who has the figure for this one knows it; so do her friends. We show it here in crêpe."
Below, is the line drawing from Vogue Magazine:
As you can see, Fath's silhouette caused quite a stir in 1954, and I’m even going to go as far as to say that Fath’s design is a precursor to Ledger, Alaia, and Mouret’s bodycon dresses that are so familiar to us today.
I am excited to get started on the inner-foundation garment, and to attempt to authentically recreate this dress with all its drapery and bows!
Stay tuned to see the construction details of this wonderful design.