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1940s Gilbert Adrian Gown

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I must say it is an honor to have had the chance to adore this gown. In my business I am always handling rare and beautiful garments, but never have I come across an Adrian of such grace and beauty. Gilbert Adrian created the signature looks for the great Hollywood divas in the 1930s like Garbo, Shearer, Crawford, Garland, Harlow, and Hepburn (Katherine) to name a few. He was responsible for the costuming of one of my favorite movies The Women (remember that bit of color.. the fashion show with those far out designs... I could eat it up with a spoon), and he was the Creative Director for the Wizard of Oz. Gilbert took into account the actress as well as the character she would be portraying when he designed a dress, suit or gown. He surveyed her attitudes, her personal style, and her body to find the look that would make her shine. As a result, he created a definitive look that women all over the world wanted to have for themselves. The retail marked jumped to produce affordable dresses that imitated Adrian's creation. Harlow's bias-cut silk gowns, and Joan Crawford's broad-shouldered and narrow-waisted suits were adored on the silver screen, then were copied, mass produced and sold to women all over the world by Macy's, Gimbals, and the like.

In 1942 Adrian left MGM (some say he left over a dispute about Garbo, that MGM wanted to de-glam her a bit) and opened a salon in Beverly Hills, catering to the very well-to-do. He also began a ready to wear line that sold only in the most exclusive stores in America, and the production of his designs were limited to just a few per design. Adrian pieces are very, very rare, and the evening gowns are the most highly prized of all.

..This amazing Adrian Original is a true gem. Every time I view it, I am in awe of its beauty and grace. This dress was obviously made during his "Grecian" theme period (other periods were Persian, Gothic, Spanish and Americana), the white tape label reads "Model 9530 Bess/5464" next to the Adrian Original label. It has been suggested to me, from an expert on Adrian that the Bess label identifies the piece as originating from an MGM motion picture, and that Bess was probably Bess Flowers, (not a primary player) from either the picture "Hi Diddle Diddle" or "Smart Woman".

The gown is comprised of layers of crepe chiffon, masterfully cut, hand finished and draped to perfection. Under the chiffon layers is a silk "slip" that is split up the front to the waist. The gown closes up the back with a very fine metal zipper, than the silk covers the zipper with little hooks and eyes. The neck strap starts on the front of the bust, then carries around the neck, to close at the bust with 2 hooks. The bodice is boned, and the interior bust has two small, round "falsies" sewn in to add some more curves. The skirt's layers are all different lengths, with asymmetrical hemlines that create a varied, flowering look.

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