Fashions of the 1970s were definitely over the top, as evidenced by this stunning aqua evening dress. It is overlaid with aqua chiffon covered with large abstract floral designs – some painted, some appliquéd colored taffeta (pin, blue, purple, yellow and lime green) edged with gold metallic embroidery and embellished with gold sequins and rhinestones. It has a high corded waistline, popular for the period, with a slightly gathered long skirt. The bodice is only partially lined, leaving the long sleeves and upper bodice sheer. It has a zipper closure in back and bears a label: “Elinor Simmons / for Malcolm Starr® / Made in The British Crown Colony of Hong Kong.”
This amazing dress was worn by Alice LeMacks Patrick here in Charleston to the wedding of Robert Lockwood and Jean Louise Schill on August 22, 1970. Alice had been given this dress by Blossom Krawcheck, of Krawcheck’s Ladies Companion Shop at 313 King Street. This was part of the fashionable Jack Krawcheck men’s clothing business, originally opened in 1922 and closing in 1995, long after his death.
Malcolm Starr (1924-2008) was head of the popular American ready-to-wear company started by his father in the 1940s. He was one of the first to lease factories in India and China for manufacturing and operated boutiques in Hong Kong and Japan. After his father’s death in 1969, Malcolm ran the business until 1976. One of the designer names associated with Malcolm Starr was Elinor (Rizkallah) Simmons from the early 1960s until 1972. Their simple lines were often enhanced by elaborate beading and embroidery, the work done in Hong Kong.
This dress is currently on exhibit in Fashion Flashback: 1970s (January 18 to April 27, 2014)
TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection. Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday