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Galanos Red Polka Dot Lucite Belted Silk Maxi Dress, 1970s
Considered an iconic and avant-garde designer of American fashion, James Galanos is known for his elegant ready-to-wear designs that were crafted to couture standards. He notably opened his fashion house in Los Angeles in 1951, and his designs have been worn by socialites and stars, including Judy Garland, Nancy Reagan, Grace Kelly, and Marilyn Monroe.
Often ahead of his time, Galanos introduced below-the-knee dresses alongside pants and jumpsuits in his 1970’s show in Paris, a distinct change from the much beloved mini-skirt of the 60’s, while houses such as Givenchy and Chanel’s longest lengths just covered the knee. This bold statement was met with skepticism and dismay, as fashion critic Bernadine Morris notes in an article for The New York Times, that Galanos was “so set on mid calf to ankle-lengths, he even commissioned a special make up to go with them."
History had its say, and the maxi dress became so popular that it is associated with the cultural revolution of the Seventies. Of that time, this vibrant red and cream polka dot maxi dress is a delightful example of Galanos' mastery with fabric. Flowing yet tailored, this dress is done in a luxurious silk with a nice weight and drape. The high-neck, pointed 70’s collar is offset by the cheerful color and print, yet lends a sophisticated air throughout.
The shirt-dress inspired elements continue with pleated details at the front and back of the dress, creating a striking silhouette from shoulder to ankle. Clear lucite buttons set into expertly done bound buttonholes at the neck and along the front placket open to a knee-high slit, allowing for easy wear. The long sleeves reach the wrist with fitted round barrel cuffs, defined with two tiers of stitch detailing.
The dress can be worn as is or fitted at the waist with the accompanying leather belt that is covered in matching fabric and adorned with a scalloped cut-out lucite buckle. Below the waist are two generous side pockets outlined with stitch details. Beautiful and flirtatious, this dress is an instant and enduring classic.
Size estimate: Medium
Shoulders: 15 inches
Sleeves: 22.5 inches
Bust: 38 inches
Waist: 29 inches
Hips: 38 inches
Length: 58 inches
This dress is fully lined in red silk, with interior ribbon bound seam finishes and the generous seam allowance that Galanos is known for. There are lucite button closures on the cuffs, at the neck, and down the front. In excellent condition, this dress has been professionally eco dry cleaned and pressed. 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.