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Very Breezy

RARE 1940s ZELDA WYNN COUTURE GOWN | Very Breezy Private Collection

RARE 1940s ZELDA WYNN COUTURE GOWN | Very Breezy Private Collection

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Very Breezy Private Collection; Price on Request | This piece is not readily available for sale and any orders placed without prior discussion will be cancelled.

Back when the term "couturier" was reserved for esteemed white men, a black woman named Zelda Wynn forged her own path as a couturier in the New York fashion business.  Born in 1905 of humble beginnings in Chambersburg, PA, she worked as a stockroom worker in a White Plains boutique in the 1920s, and developed a clientele based on her unequaled ability to tailor to a woman's body. By the 1940s, she had her own shop in Manhattan, where she designed custom dresses for a mostly black clientele, including Marie Cole's dress for her 1948 wedding to Nat Cole. Ella Fitzgerald was a devoted client of hers, and she made dresses for Josephine Baker, Mae West, and Marlene Dietrich. In the 1960s she was approached by Hugh Hefner, doubtless due to her known ability to create pieces for real women with curves (as opposed to models). She played a pivotal role in designing what would become the famous Playboy Club outfits. Zelda Wynn is also known her advocacy work for other black designers, addressing discrimination in the workplace and promoting racial diversity in the fashion industry.

This dress was made by Zelda Wynn in her New York atelier in the late 1940s. It features a completely unique and stunning exaggerated sweetheart neckline, with an interior corset of exceptional construction. The neckline is one that was often referenced by Thierry Mugler in the 1980s. The beadwork on this dress is just so incredible; I can't begin to describe it and it's difficult for photos don't even do it justice. What I will say is it's basically impossible to find a modern dress with this level of craftsmanship.

Measurements:
Chest: Up to 38" (it's supposed to sit away from the actual chest)
Waist: 25"
Hips: 36.5" (side slits give some forgiveness)
Length: 51.25" down center front (from neckline to hem)

Great vintage condition.

 

 

Joyce Bryant wearing a Zelda Wynn Valdes gown, 1953

Mae West in one of Zelda Wynn Valdes’s designs

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