1980s Charles & Patricia Lester Kelmscott Dress
This dress does not have the Charles & Patricia Lester label, but as soon as I saw it I knew it could only be by them. I emailed the delightful Mrs Lester and she authenticated it, and went on to give me some very interesting and valuable information about it. She informed me that it dates to 1984 or 1985 and was called the Kelmscott dress, named after Kelmscott Manor, the home of William Morris.
It was a homage to the Pre-Raphaelite movement and to me, it exudes the beauty and romance of that time. She informed me that it is a rare piece as only a scant few were made, and each was an individual, one of a kind with only one created in a certain color. According to Mrs Lester, the silk velvet is very rare, originating in France from a manufacturer that has long been out of business.
The gown is divine, unique and a joy to wear. The front and back panels are the very soft French silk velvet, in a shade of mossy loden green with a brown undertone. If you note any color shift in the photos, that is due to the luster of the fabric, it is not faded. The edges of the velvet where hand printed in a morning glory motif, very evocative of William Morris designs. The paints used for the printing are in shades of deep violet and peacock blue that melt together beautifully, like the wings of a butterfly. Between the velvet is light silk, pleated so finely, you might mistake it for Fortuny.
There are yards and yards of this magical fabric, so tightly pleated it looks like mushroom gills. Just look how the sleeves fan out, and be sure to see the image of the side pulled out so you can get an idea of how much silk there is. Under the arms are bands of glass beads woven into little bands. The beads are again repeated lower on the sides in the form of little ropes to keep the shape of the dress.
As mentioned above, there is no Lester label. There is a capriccio label which is the retail store that sold the dress. Mrs Lester said she wasn't surprised her label was removed and replaced as Capriccio did that often.
The overall condition is excellent, though there is a small area in the pleating that has relaxed a little due to improper storage. This bit of relaxation will not alter the overall beauty of the gown.
no size, fits like a medium