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Circa 1929 Mario Fortuny Delphos Pleated Gown at auction

Discussion in 'The Powder Room' started by Vintage Betty, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. Vintage Betty

    Vintage Betty My Mail is Forwarded Here

    I know The Fedora Lounge frowns on live Ebay auctions. But since the starting bid on this item is $1500 and the estimated value is $6000, I think most of us can only afford to look and wish. :rolleyes:


    Here's the link with the rest of the photos

    Vintage Betty
  2. Mojito

    Mojito One Too Many

    If I ever win the lottery, I *will* own a Fortuny. Love them. I particularly like the accesories he designed to go with them.
  3. Look at that pleating! Very delicate and Grecian.

    I hadn't heard of Mario Fortuny before, but after googling him it seems like he is right up there with Poiret and Schiaparelli. Is he especially known for pleating? What can you gals tell me?
  4. Lauren

    Lauren Distinguished Service Award

    Droool. There was one up on ebay, I think this year, with the original box and sash. I saved the pics to my computer, but it's kind of on it's last legs so I can't share them :(

    *edit* looking at link first helps. So that's the SECOND this year!! Wow!

    A story I heard from the guy I met who first got me into real vintage clothing (and not just costumes) was that there was an auction down by Hotel Del in the 70s or 80s and a friend told him later that there were two original Fortuny gowns that were auctioned as nightgowns! They went for a song, apparently, so there may be some hope for those of us who year to have one someday- though at this point I'd probably donate it to a museum should I ever find one.
  5. Mojito

    Mojito One Too Many

    That sounds like one of those fantasies we all have, Lauren - I've always imagined walking into a garage sale and finding someone selling off great-grandmothers old clothes, and finding a Fortuny curled up in its box. Unfortunately now all a seller would have to do was enter the name in google to realise immediately what a treasure they had!

    Laura, Fortuny is interesting - he occupies a sort of timeless place in design, both in and outside fashion. The pleating process is probably what he's most known for - the pleating was done by hand on wet or damp fabric, held in place with stitches and set with heat. There are many imitators, but no one has ever really duplicated it. He developed it in 1907 - 08 and patented the process in November 1909, and continued making variations until his death in 1949 - it can consequently sometimes be difficult to date the gowns. There were many variations - sleeves lenths, width, tunics...even rare pleated trousers! A tunic, or "Peplos" version, was made in the 1920s. Early Delphos gowns had batwing sleeves, laced up to the shoulders, held in place by hand-blown Murano beads. They were also belted in a variety of ways - either at or just above the natural waist, or Grecian style criss-crossed over the waist.

    The accessories are as gorgeous as the gowns - like belts and capes made with wonderful stencilled designs, showing his many Greek, Italian (particularly the Renaissance), Egyptian, Indian, Persian, African, Chinese, Japanese, Turkish, North African etc influences.

    From Vintagetextile.com:

    Dress and belt

    Close up of name

    As Lauren mentions, these were sold boxed. After wearing, to keep the pleats intact, you coiled them up and stored them in the box:


    Fortuny silk velvet hooded cape hand stenciled with Coptic motifs, c.1920. Provenance: from the collection of Gloria Vanderbilt.

    Fortuny silk pleated Delphos dress with Venetian glass beads on the sides, c.1925-1930. The belt and dress seams are marked "Fortuny DSE."

    Hand stenciled silk velvet purse attributed to Fortuny, c.1925.
  6. Vanessa

    Vanessa One Too Many

    Here's a bit from the auction description:

    Yes, please I'll take two.

  7. This is fine.

    It falls under #2 of the Exceptions to the rules.

    * Items that are not one-of-a-kind that are offered by eBay members as a Buy It Now product on an ongoing basis. You will find links here to sales of inexpensive razor blades, for example. They are always offered, always at a standard price, and the ingredient of competition among bidders is removed.
    * Items that are clearly, obviously, WAY outside the fold of our member's general bidding ability or interest. For example: Clark Gable's Packard is bringing $2 million.
  8. I know what *I* want for Christmas now! Isn't it gorgeous?

    Mine too! If only. *sigh*
  9. MissAmelina

    MissAmelina A-List Customer

    Holy Moly! Too many things to love in this world...too many things. Sigh.
    Doesn't this almost look like the same dress??

  10. Vintage Betty

    Vintage Betty My Mail is Forwarded Here

    The interesting thing about Fortuny Gowns, as I understand it, is that it is very important for the gown to be stowed twisted to retain the pleats. In other words, not just to wrap the gown back into a circle in the box, but actually go to the trouble of twisting the entire gown into a gentle corkscrew pattern before placing the gown into the box in a circle form.

    Anyone else hear this?

    Since I highly doubt I will own one of these treasures in my lifetime, I'd just like the opportunity to study it in person.
  11. Miss 1929

    Miss 1929 My Mail is Forwarded Here

    beauteous pleatage

    I do love the Fortunys!
    I was thinking though, it would be fairly easy to make a reasonable fake. They do sell silk, pleated finely, by the yard. And you could definitely manipulate it by dampening and twist/coiling it to make it look more vintage.
    It reminds me of the Navaho skirts that are finely pleated by damping them, then putting them on a broomstick, tie them tightly at the top and twist around the stick, tie at the bottom and let it dry. They then have that twist built into the pleats.
    As much as I would love one, I would rather have the $6K, so a fake would be fine by me! And the slim figure to wear one, please...
  12. Vanessa

    Vanessa One Too Many

    Anyone up for a trip to Venice to the Fortuny Museum?
  13. Lauren

    Lauren Distinguished Service Award

    Oooh... didn't know there was a museum. Hopefully, someday.

    The cool thing about Fortuny was that he never let go of his secrets. The way he pleated fabric died with him. The other ways are just imitations of what he created.
  14. Mojito

    Mojito One Too Many

    I think you're right, Vintage Betty - not just coiled, but twisted around in a coil to keep the form. They seem to store remarkably well, judging from the examples I've seen - I don't know whether they just spring back into shape, or whether they're so valuable that the owners put some work into getting them looking as good as they do? Like other pleated gowns, I have heard that one of the issues they may face is a weaking of the fabric on the edge of the pleats.

    Miss 1929, you raise an interesting point...I wonder if there have been attempts to fake them? Complete with stencilling and Murano glass beads? I've seen a lot of pleated gowns referred to as "Fortunyesque", and Romanesque/Renaissance and even Celtic designs referred to as "Fortunyesque", although some could equally be likened to the work of designers like Gallenga.
  15. I did a brief report for one of my classes on Mariano Fortuny. There were, in fact, imitators of his clothing at the time. Though I don't recall reading about any out-and-out fakes, "knockoffs" abounded. However, I understand that his methods were kept quite secret and that no copies could attain the depth and beauty of a real Fortuny garment. I suppose that today one could attempt to pass off a period pseudo-Fortuny as a real one, of course.

    For further reading and many beautiful pictures of not only his creations but his inspirations and home in Venice, read "Mariano Fortuny: His Life and Work" by Guillermo De Osma.
  16. This is so interesting, thank you Mojito for giving me a quick overview. :)

    This sounds like quite an easy way to make pleats, but I wonder if it'd give the same tiny fine pleats as the Fortuny, they are gorgeous...


    I was curious about how they might look, so I did a quick search and found this article. The way they are supposed to be twisted when put into storage sounds like a Fortuny. And also this thing about them getting more beautiful with age:

    Like the cowboy boots and chambray shirts with which they are best worn, broomstick skirts improve with age. The repeated pleating during storage and laundering softens the fabric and causes uneven fading; the older the skirt, the more graceful, soft and mellow.

    The time-honored method of storage is to grab the skirt at the waist, twist it tightly and stick it into the leg of a stocking. And forget ironing. To freshen the skirt, dampen it, then bunch, twist and bind it tightly with old soft stockings at the three seams.
  17. Mary

    Mary Practically Family

    These gowns are dreamy!

    I wonder as Laura Chase if you cold get there fine pleats on your own. They are quite extraordinary! I haven't seen pleated silk to buy here. Will hunt the internet to get at good look of it.
  18. Elizabeth.F

    Elizabeth.F Familiar Face

    I first saw a photograph of a black 1920s Delphos Fortuny about a year ago and ever since I've dreamed of seeing one in person. Does anybody know if there is one in an American Museum?
  19. Mojito

    Mojito One Too Many

    That's a very interesting note about contemporary imitators, ShoreRoadLady - I suppose with the straight rip-offs of Chanel, Lanvin, Poiret etc, it would make sense that the more ambitious would seek to imitate Fortuny.

    Elizabeth, there are a few Fortuny pieces in the Met:


    I wouldn't be surprised if quite a few other costume collections in the US also have examples of his work.

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