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1980s Bill Blass Bow Dress

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High fashion in the 1980s was all about bold color, and "individualistic" styles. Even mass produced items that everyone was wearing made you feel like you were rebelling in some way. Designers like Versace and Gaultier were making names for themselves by producing highly creative designs that were radically different from anything that came before. I was never really keen on most of the mainstream 80s fashion... thats one of the main reasons I turned to vintage at an early age, as I couldn't find anything decent to wear (that I could afford) in the malls.

While some new designers were thriving in the 80s, some of the established designers began to flail. How does clasic couture integrate with 80s wear? Shoulderpads can only take you so far, so the classicals had to get creative. Bill Blass found the perfect synthesis in this iconic gown.

The dress is a masterpiece. It was even chosen for the cover of W magazines 20th Anniversary issue as an example of 1980s fashion (as seen below). The main portion of the dress is simple black crepe silk... very sleek and sexy. The bodice is composed of finely pleated silk satin that twists up at the bust to form the elaborate bow. The photo of Shalom from the magazine shows the bow worn up like wings, but after studing my dress I am pretty sure it was meant to be worn full like I am showing it. The construction of the bodice is pure couture, all hand stitched and incredibly wonderful. There is an inner, and an outer bodice, each with its own zipper. The rest of the dress is fully lined with black silk as well.

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