This was quite the snag! No, really guys. I've always loved these dresses, but they have never been within my reach financially. But I snagged this one up for $30 on Ebay! The listing said that it was 1930s/40s, but I think that it is probably more of a late 50's or 1960's piece. Shoot, even if it isn't vintage at all, it's still a snag! The fabric is a beautiful silky satin in inky black and the multi colored embroidery runs from the top of the left shoulder, curving all the way down to the hem of the dress. The embroidery is highly detailed and depicts a dragon and a phoenix. I still can't quite believe I own this dress. It is just too beautiful and seems more a piece of art than clothing.
Once again, I didn't wait until I had my hair or make-up done to snap a photo in it! I just can't help myself. I quickly unwrapped it and put it on. Truth be told, my husband had to help me put it on. This dress is my exact measurements, so it was a rather delicate business to secure it. There is a side metal zipper and hooks/snaps along the bust and neckline. Believe me, this is a "walk and sit pretty" dress, not a dancing dress! No big meals for me in this one! I haven't begun to consider accessories for this yet. I just threw on a pair of modern shoes for the photo. If any of you have suggestions, I'm all ears!
This style of dress is called a cheongsam or qípáo and I gave you an example of a vintage woman wearing one on my Friday Photo Swoon this week. Although the originals are much older, the style most known today (like mine) started in China in the 1920s, but did not became popularized in the West until the 1950s and 60s. The version we are familiar with is a body hugging, knee-length or longer dress with side slits and mandarin collar. From what I can gather through sources like Wikipedia, the dragon and phoenix depicted on mine represent a male (dragon) and female (phoenix) yin and yang. Often, dragons and phoenixes were seen together in weddings symbolizing a blissful marriage.
Here are two examples of a cheongsam worn by Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly in the 1950s. They are a very similar shape to mine and Taylor's looks to be in a dark colored satin material too. Kelly, always the impeccably elegant, has paired hers with a fur wrap, gloves, and a slicked back hairstyle. Taylor's version is much more casual and somewhat playful with her hair down and a minimal of accessories. I couldn't find specific photo credits, but you can find versions of these photos on Pinterest. I do know that the photo of Grace Kelly was at an awards show (possibly a Golden Globe?).
Last Week's Sunday Snag: