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1950's to the 1960's Period, Chinese Made (?), Red Color Silk/Satin (?), Hand Made, Beaded, Formal Long Dress, with Matching Jacket
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It is believed that this hand made, formal long dress or skirt, and matching color and material jacket are of the 1950's Korean War to the 1960's Vietnam Conflict period. This assumption is based on the observance that the front zipper is made half of plastic and half of metal, and is not made out of all-metal as is usually found on many earlier made garments of the 1940's-ish period. The cloth tag found sewn inside of this dress is believed to be written in the Chinese language, but we are in no way certain of this at this moment in time (So sorry......we no speaka do language!). It is quite possible that this formal dress is of Hong Kong (Chinese) or possibly Philippine in origin.
This long dress, or actually a "long skirt", is comprised of a red color silk/satin (?) jacket, with a huge amount of hand sewn beading judiciously added. The amount of beading is ABSOLUTELY TREMENDOUS! The top of the jacket's neck to the bust area is completely beaded with thousands of white and red color beads. This huge beading area continues down the back side to the top of the shoulder blade area. This same style of beading is also found on the bottom portion of the jacket's hem and it runs up the front, sides, and back of the jacket by about 5 to 6 inches or so, and making a full circumference circle around the waist.
Each sleeve cuff is similarly beaded from the bottom edges of each cuff also up to almost 5 or 6 inches or so above the cuff edge. The tailor/seamstress must have used a gazillion or more different size and type beads to cover these multiple areas, and it had to take almost a lifetime to complete such complicated hand work. There are also 2 side slits incorporated into the sides of this jacket. The front of this jacket is closed by a half metal and half plastic construction zipper. This zipper is nicely painted in a matching red color. This zipper is also hallmarked with: "Color", "10", and "C". And if you think that this is all that there is to this magnificent jacket , then hold on to your skivvies folks as there is a whole lot more to discuss. Found heavily beaded with a great many styles of beads are 3 very large beaded dragons, and also 5 large beaded peacocks. These thick and heavy beaded creatures are an amazing 12 inches or more high, and they fully fill in most of the jacket's surface areas, leaving not much of the red color silk/satin material still extant. These beaded creatures are incredibly thick and heavy and give a tremendous 3-dimensional effect. They could not be improved upon in any way.......they are that darn good.
The condition of this jacket is in a LOW EXCELLENT CONDITION. We have not endeavored to inspect every inch of this jacket for any missing beads as that is almost impossible since there are so many thousands upon thousands of beads found hand sewn on. We do have 2 of the beads that are now detached, and they both are included. We do not have a clue as to where these 2 beads go as we can find no missing bead spots anywhere on ths jacket. Overall this jacket is BEYOND IMAGINATION TO BEHOLD!
As for the inside of this jacket, it is fully linedd in a beautiful, matching red color silk/satin material. The lining is in great shape too. Found sewn in the inside neck area of the lining is a red and white printed tailor's label. It reads: "SUN WAH COMPANY", and then 2 telephone numbers are listed as well. There are also many Chinese (?) language characters also printed on this label as well. In researching this grouping we could not find the name of this company anywhere on the internet, so we are not sure if they still exist or not. However, the name of "SUN WAH" is undoubtedly of Chinese origin, or so we dumb Yankees here think. It would be great fun to find out the history of this company, and the fantastic clothing that they produced.
Moving on......the 2nd item in this grouping is an exactly matching color and material long skirt. We conservatively condition rate this long skirt in a LOW EXCELLENT CONDITION, as it has no significant detractions. We can find no major defects, but like the jacket, we have not inspected this skirt over every inch to find any missing beads as there are tens of thousands of them sewn throughout it's great length. This long skirt is so incredibly heavy from the great many thousands upon thousands of beads that are hand sewn on, that the tailor/seamstress had to build into the skirt 2, one inch wide shoulder cross straps. These 2 cross straps are adjustable for length by red color buttons. These straps work something like suspenders work, and they form an "X" shape across the back and another "X" shape across the chest. Without these 2 "X" cross straps there would be no chance in hell for a woman to be able to keep this skirt held up properly without using a hammer and some nails (that's a joke here!). It's great weight from all the heavy beading would have pulled this skirt to the floor without this added "X" strapping support. These 2 "X" cross straps are totally hidden from view by the closed collar nature of the jacket.
And this skirt is very LONG in length. It is so very long that, almost for sure, it would require the young lady to have worn a pair of super high heels to keep it from touching the floor (more about these high heels to follow). Even so, even with a pair of extra high, high heels added, this long skirt would still be about ankle length. And yet all through this long dres would still be considered as "high waisted" at the top. As for the wait line area, it is heavily reinforced to support the great weight og this skirt. And rather oddly, the waist line is secured together by a white color tie string, not the expected buttons or metal hooks that are more prevalent. The use of tie strings is almost never found on anything except oriental made garments. Garments made in the U.S. or Europe almost never used such a tie string closure method.
Another rather odd fact concerning this long skirt is that it has a normal, built-in closure side zipper. But the odd fact about this is that this side zipper, unlike the zipper found on the jacket, is constructed out of all metal. And in this case it is not painted in a red color like the zipper found on the jacket which is colored in red paint. The zipper on this skirt is hallkarmed: "YKK", "PP", and "3", which we believe means that it is a oriental made zipper.
Moving on......All of the huge amount of beading that is found on the jacket exterior has been duplicated on the outer surface of the long skirt, but in this case, it is executed in even a greater quantity! The bottom hem line area has the same beading pattern as found on the top and bottom areas of jacket. But since the top waist line area of this long skirt is placed well up under the jacket, there was no necessity for the tailor/seamstress to incorporate any beading in this upper waist line area where it would be invisible, and yet still susceptible to damage from rubbing against the inner lining of the jacket. As would be appropriate for such a fantastic ensemble, the talior/seamstress incorporated into the outer surface of this long skirt additional dragons and peacocks. There are 2 huge dragons and 4 huge peacocks found beaded on this long skirt. Because this long skirt is so long in length, these 2 dragons and 4 peacocks are of a much larger size than those found on the jacket. Without measuring, we would say that these dragons and peacocks are about 18 inches or so tall. Their great size really works well on such a long length skirt where the use of smaller versions would probably have been lost in the jumble. And as an added feature, the tailor/seamstress added 4 full skirt length rows of sideways placed, beaded triangles (or perhaps sideways posed "pyramids"). Since these 4 rows of beaded pyramids run the full length of this already long skirt, the appearance that these pyramids give is of a skirt with almost unending length. This would be the ideal skirt for a young lady that has super-model length legs, propped up on incredibly high height high heels.
Considering the super long length of this jacket/skirt ensemble, and the high heels that it should have been mated with; the young lady should better have a very tall boyfriend or husband if she were not to tower over him like some Amazon! Another beautiful feature concerning this long skirt is that unlike the jacket's bottom hem line edge; on this long skirt a full set of dangling beaded tassels has been built in. They "jiggle around" when the young lady walks in this skirt, giving it some added sexy movements, of sorts, and all unto itself. That was a nice touch, don't ya think?
Looking inside of this long skirt we find that it is fully lined just like the jacket. It is also lined in a matching color and material type to the jacket. The lining looks to be in nice shape too. There is no tailor's/seamstress tag found sewn in this long skirt, however there are 2 Chinese characters that are hand inked into the connecting zone on the back side of the rear "X" cross strap. We do not know what these 2 Chinese characters mean, however there is also a hand inked in letter "M" found right next to them. This "M" could probably mean that this custom made skirt was tailored in the medium size range, but we are not sure of this, so don't count on it!
When this ensemble was found by the museum, the vendor had told us about a pair of hand made high heeled "mules" that she had from the same lady. These shoes did not come with this ensemble originally, but did come from the same lady. They are so perfect a match that we will include them with this grouping. We wonder if they were ever worn together as a set or not? These high heels are COMPLETELY HAND CARVED FROM WOOD! They are NOT factory made, or even partially factory made. They are of hand painted, bright red color, and match the jacket and long skirt just perfectly. They have approximately 3 3/4 inch high spike heels. But as a connoisseur of vintage stockings and high heels, for such a long jacket/skirt ensemble, these conservative 3 3/4 inch high heels are actually rather low for such a formal ensemble of such long length. This ensemble really could use some uper high, spike high heels that would be more appropriate if they were at least in the 5 inch height spike heel style (WOW....you gotta love dat!). These shoes are magnificently hand painted with a large floral pattern of multi-colored flowers that are found not only on the spike heels, but also on the full inner portion of the inner soles as well! Imagine why the insdies of these high heels were painted on the inner soles when nobody could see the insdie if they were fully worn on the foot. Unless of course, if the painter had a tremendous foot fetish and appreciated a lady that was a "dangler". OH..........for those of you out there that are not attuned to high heeled traditions and fetishes..............many people just love to watch a lady dangle a high heeled shoe from the tips of her toes, as a sort of a tease/ritual act (it works just great if done from a bar stool...........try it sometime ladies, that is if you can keep the shoe from flying off in the process!). This dangling act is considered a great turn-on by foot fetishists the world over. If such a dangling act was done by the young lady, then the beautifully painted flowers painted on the inner soles of these high heeled mules would have made sense. And undoubtedly, they also would have stopped the crowd dead in their tracks as then these inner flowers could be seen in all of their multi-colored glory.
The tops of these beautiful mules are constructed out of a red color velvet that is sewn over a white color leather inner lining surface. The red color top covering found on these high heels exactly matches the color found on the jacket/skirt ensemble. This velvet top covering is also beaded in multi-colored flowers, but in this case the flowers are found on these high heels is not an exact matchto the flower pattern found added on the jacket and shirt, but they are a very close match. The spike heeled tips are also in perfect shape showing an unbelievable NO WEAR! The bottom of these spike heeled tips are even "positive" embossed with the number "555" imprinted on the tips. This is quite amazing as we have never, ever, see high heeled spike tips that were ever embossed with anything on their wear surface. And the bottom, wear soles of these mules, are also magnificently "positive" embossed with the following writing: "555", and "GUOC", and "Kin-Thanh, Saigon". This positive embossed writing shows no appreciable surface wear, meaning that these high heels were probably never worn, or if they were worn, then they were only worn for a very brief period of time, and most likely, only on a soft, non-scuffing carpet.
Another cool feature concerning these high heeled mules is that on the right shoe's bottom outer arch surface, the manufacturer added a nailed-on silver color metal, cut-out logo of: "KTSG". This is just a fantastic addition and find. High heel lovers the world over would just die to get their "tootsies" into these beautiful, and ornate mules (just ogle over the photos of them enclosed). These high heeledm mules are conservatively condition rated as in a LOW EXCELLENT CONDITION, showing almost no appreciable wear except for a little storage wear from banging them around a bit here and there over the years. And.......HEY girls......they are in a wider size and length then is normally found these days on vintage shoes, meaning that many women could still wear them if they so desired. We would have kept these fantastic mules for our museum collection as they are just that magnificent to behold. But since they match this jacket and long skirt ensemble just sooooo perfectly; we just had to include them here as a set. You win.......we lose!
Moving on........The museum has also added a really nice long-line girdle/corset. It is of the off-white color and has much fine detailing that women so coveted. This fine undergarment is conservatively condition rated as in a HIGH EXCELLENT CONDITION, showing no major defects and/or wear. It is of the 6 garter variety, and the garters are of an earlier, sturdier made types. The garters still work fine after all of these years. This undergarment is nicely appointed with many details which means that it was not a cheaper garment then most others. It is of full length and it incorporates a built-in bra. It has 2 shoulder straps which each is formed into an upside down "Y" shape at their ends at the back, and connecting edge. This "Y" shape added much strength to the ends of these straps and prevented all of the bust weight from being hung from just 1 rear strap connecting area where a single strap would have done otherwise. This feature prevented back hem edge sagging and was an expensive added feature. Other design features include 2 diamond shape front and rear stretch panels that are built-in this garment in the tummy and buttock area. This girdle/corset has a set of 4 metal closure hooks located only near the top hemline, in the back area. As for the bust cups, they are of an expensive, but soft, lacy type of a material, and have no under wiring. The inside of this girdle/corset has 2 white and pink color tags. One tag reads: "60 Size 34 B", "Lily of France", "Fiber Content On Reverse Side, Made In U.S.A.". And on it's reverse side can be found: "Union Label", "ERAV", "ILGWU" (for the "International Ladies Garment Workers Union"), "Cups 100% Nylon", Elastic Nylon Spandex", "Acetate Cotton", Exclusive Of Decoration", and "RN15546, 1, 9". As for the 2nd and much larger tailor's tag that's included, this is what this tag reads: "Enhance, by Lily of France", and "Pat. 2,899,968" (for the date of 1959), and "2,549,361 (for the date of 1951). This is your proof of dating provenance, folks. To add to this grouping the museum has also added a small hand crocheted, white color hankie. It is in only a LOW GOOD CONDITION, as it has 2 splits that can be easily re-sewn.
The next addition added is a magnificent, very old vintage, hand made, oriental origin, woman's straw sun hat with a hand made, laced wood chin strap that is in the shape of interlocking rings. This sun hat is just MAGNIFICENT, in that it is made out of 2 color straw, not one. This sun hat is not the common garden variety that is found today in oriental flea markets/bazaars. This example is quite old and VERY ORNATE in design, and has much detail that would only be found on a sun hat that belonged to a woman of greater wealth. We have never seen a more ornate straw sun hat ever........and brother have we ever seen a lot. This hand made, laced sun hat is in EXCELLENT CONDITION, with only 1 small thread for the chin strap lose and a few small straw ends poking out here and there. This great sun hat could not be improved upon, and it goes with this fancy red ensemble absolutely perfectly.
We have added another nice addition to this exemplary grouping and it is a pair of MINT CONDITION, beige color, full fashioned, woman's, seamed stockings. The museum director has collected stockings for over 38 years, and he selected an exquisite pair out of the many thousands found in his personal stocking collection. These thigh high "Nylons" have the full fashioned treatment of hand sewn back seams, reinforced heels and toes, reduction knitting at the toes and heels, but oddly, no dual hand knitting line marks that are almost always found running parallel to each seam. This oddity is clearly delineated in great detail on an included heavy paper card that these vintage thigh high stockings came packed on top of in their box. This card explains how the manufacturer eliminated these needle marks. To find such full manufacturing information on a stocking packing card is fairly rare and it a wonderful addition. This card has 2 sketches of the back side of a lady's legs, and it includes all sorts of writing that explains how these hand needle marks were eliminated in the manufacturing process. A cool part about this card is that it includes both the manufacturer's name, and their brand name, such as: "THE MOST PERFECT FIT STOCKING YOU'VE EVER WORN, Flex-Fit*, by Van Raalte, exclusive method shapes or "fashions" nylons top-to-toe WITHOUT visible "fashion" marks.......", on and on it goes. These nylons have great detail found built into their top welts, as only found on expensive stockings. The very top of the top welt has the addition of a beautiful white color pinstripe which was so popular with ladies who appreciated only the very finest of stockings, and were willing to pay for such expensive "extras". The middle of the top welt also has the addition of a 1 inch wide diamond shape circular weaving pattern, and a 1/2 inch wide similar weaving pattern found near the bottom of the top welt. All of this added much expense to these stockings, meaning that they were not "cheapies" intended for daily or street wear; but instead were intended to be worn for much more formal occasions, especially occasions when such an ornate red jacket and skirt ensemble such as this would have been brought out. As an added feature and expense, these finer stockings include the much coveted silk screened manufacturer's logo. These logos were only printed on 1 stocking, and not on both, and it should always be placed on the outside of the leg (and never placed on the inner thigh area).
There was a reason for outer leg logo placement, and other visually noticeable features placed on the outer top welt. And this was because the wearing of nylons was ADORED by knowledgeable women of the time, who would wear only their finest stockings for those "special" occasions. In those glorious olden days a lady would not be caught dead out of her stockings. Many skirts and dresses of the time had rear or side slits built in that would allow a peek of a stocking top. This was very popular when the lady placed her body in such a position that allowed these side slits to open up a little, and thus expose some stocking top. That is why the ladies went crazy for well detailed stocking tops such as these added fashion features. These extra added details could be glimpsed at only a little bit by male (and female!) afcionados, who craned their necks to get a "sneak peek". The term used back then for the posing of the lady's legs with a bit of stocking top showing through the skirt slit was called "cheesecake", and that wonderful phrase is still recognized today by stocking wearers and collectors alike.
As for the logo, in this case it is printed in white and reads: "Flex-Fit (???), Wisp by Van Raalte, 10 1/2 Full Fashioned". As a collector of stockings, this logo is far better in look then is normally found on cheaper made daily worn stockings. But rather unusually, there are no markings found for either the denier (the thickness of the thread filaments) on these stockings, or for their gauge (the size of the square mesh holes created by the criss-crossing of the thread filaments). These nylons do have the expected rear "key hole" that was a feature of fully fashioned stockings of the era. But what is really nice about these expensive stockings is that they are both still connected together by a clip-on manufacturer's cardboard identification tag. The use of such tags was extremely rare as it added more expense to an already expensive pair of nylons. This tag is about 1 inch by 2 inches in size, and it is made out of a pretty soft pink color thin cardboard, with black color printing. The tag reads: "Van Rallte, FLEXTOE* NYLONS, WISP, MEDIUMS, 15-60, STARLET, $1.65, 10 1/2, SAVE TO ORDER". Note: the listing of "15-60" on this tag is finally the manufacturer's listing of the denier and gauge of these stockings, with the "15" being the denier and the "60" being their gauge. These beautiful, fully fashioned stockings include the lower 1/2 of their original stocking packing box, and they also include the ribbed, high grade tissue wrapping paper that all stockings of that era were packaged in. Ah........dose were do good ol'e days......!
The next inclusion was a bit fanciful on the director's parts, but the museum just could not resist the temptation to add it to this grouping. This great inclusion is of a magnificent, vintage, paper-ish construction, sun umbrella of oriental origin. This magnificent addition looks ABSOULETELY MARVELOUS when it was added to our lady mannequin, who incidentally was dressed in the beaded red color jacket and skirt ensemble. This umbrella is in VERY GOOD PLUS CONDITION, as it has only a few small splits to the aged paper, a 1 lose stay. The outer top surface has what appears to be a printed, multi-colored floral pattern. But we may be wrong on this as the floral pattern just may be a hand painted addition. This floral arrangement is executed so well that we can not tell whether it was machine done or done by hand painting, it just that good. The handle of this umbrella is mode out of aged bamboo and the umbrella opens and closes just fine. This umbrella has been constructed, or perhaps it has aged, to a beautiful antique white/amber color that attests to it's great age. Obviously this expensively made umbrella was not intended for just the common folk of the orient. Because of it's expensive construction it was most likely intended to be used when only the very best of umbrellas was desired. We have never seen a better appointed sun umbrella such as this. It is a perfect fit to go with this elegant ensemble.
Comments from the Curator:
This grouping is the very finest that anyone could ever hope to have in their collection, bar none. There is none better that we have ever seen that was made available to purchase. And it doesn't just rival, but surpasses lesser museum exhibits found exhibited by others elsewhere. The only reason that this grouping is being made available now is that this museum has decided not to put on permanent exhibit our 300-plus female uniforms/ensembles, due to their great cost constraints. If these 300-plus "goils" were going to be kept by the museum for exhibit, then this grouping would never have seen the light of day. This set is one of the director's very most favorite OF ALL THE MUSEUM'S 30,000 PLUS ARTIFACTS! Believe it or not, Director Karen Gasser bought this ensemble for husband William Gasser's Christmas present many years ago, and how weird is that? How many straight men ask for a dress for Christmas? Nevertheless, we paid a small fortune to acquire this great ensemble as we were not the only collector(s) who tried to get to it first when it was offered for sale. Director William really does NOT want to sell it, and would be very pleased to put "her" right back on their mannequin that faces his office door. There he enjoys viewing "her" every time he glances out of his office door from his desk. But perhaps it's now the right time for this grouping to be enjoyed by someone new who can really appreciate it's great beauty and historical rarity. But, if you are interested in this magnificent grouping, please do not ask to "haggle" price, and no sizes will be given as this set is only to be considered as a historical collectible. And one in which it is to be coveted and preserved for eternity, only for others to both see and enjoy. This my friends is as good as it will ever get. Not cheap, but quality never is.
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