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Basha Gold

c.1961 Norman Norell Dress as seen on Jacqueline Kennedy


Jacqueline Kennedy is undoubtedly one of the most enduring style icons, and Norman Norell was one of her go-to designers. When she got ready for a state visit to the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, in 1961, the First Lady turned to him, as she often did, for her ambassadorial outfit. She chose a blue version of the timeless mocha dress featured here.

“To qualify as a designer, one should not be afraid to repeat a good design and certainly must have his own signature,” Norell has said. This dress exemplifies his ethos (and is a testament to why he is often considered the father of American high fashion). It pairs modern elegance with couture-quality details.

Made of superior crisp linen, the sheath silhouette features the fabric on the bias in the front bodice and on the grain elsewhere for an incredibly flattering fit. Darts on the front and back further enhance the fit, as does the genius seam work (the waist is raised in the front and then gently curves to the back).

A bateaux neckline, two front slit pockets and five buttons at the rear with hidden hook-and-eye closures in between each one are some of the standout exterior details. The interior boasts a few of its own, as well, including a silk lining facing the top portion of the dress, a silk belt at the waistline and silk pockets sewn with weights at the bottom so they lay perfectly in place. This piece is a collector’s item for the person who appreciates history, craftsmanship and the art of fine dressmaking.

Size estimate: XS/S


Bust: 34 inches

Waist: 26 inches

Hips: Up to 34 inches

Length: 37 inches

Armhole opening from top to bottom: 6.75 inches

This vintage Norman Norell sleeveless sheath dress is in excellent condition. Similar to one that Jacqueline Kennedy once wore, it is made in superior linen in a rich mocha hue. The linen is cut on the bias to create the pieced bateaux front and on the grain to form the remainder of the look.

Darts on the front and back lend it a flattering fit, as does the gently curved seam work and shirring at the waistline. The five buttons down the back are fortified by hook-and-eye closures between each one. Two front slit pockets are made of silk sewn with weights so they lay perfectly in place.

The top portion of the dress is lined in silk and the waistline includes an interior silk belt. High-quality vintage pieces like this are yours to live in and love while increasing in value every year. It’s never too soon to start collecting them, as an investment in your wardrobe—and in yourself.

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