Julie Christie in Fortuny

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Apricot pleated tunic with green sleeves and cross-gartered leggings. All around, some of Fortuny’s wealth of hand-blocked velvets.

Fortuny dresses have always been collected by women who are beauties and/or intellectuals: Eleanora Duse, Sarah Bernhardt, Isadora Duncan, The Marchesa Casati Stampa, Consuelo, Duchess of Marlborough, Marie-Laure de Noailles, Mrs Gloria Cooper Vanderbilt, Anjelica Huston, Monica Vitti, and now Julie Christie, who bought Fortuny’s pink and silver dress with pleated silk side and glass buttons at a recent auction at Christie’s. Here Julie Christie borrows Fortunys from another collector, Mrs Liselotte Hohs Manera, Austrian painter and ceramist, who is married to an Italian lawyer, and one that belong to Eleanora Duse from Vern Lambert’s collection. Castaldi took the photographs in Venice, where Mariano and Henriette Fortuny lived and worked in the Palazzo Pesaro, which is now the Fortuny Museum, and where Julie Christie has been making the film Don’t Look Now, directed by Nicholas Roeg. She’ll next be seen in Uncle Vanya, on Broadway, an extraordinary production to be directed by Mike Nichols with George C. Scott an Nicol Williamson.

Photographed by Castaldi.

Scanned from Vogue, July 1973.

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Antique violet tunic and skirt pleated like a mushroom: inspired by a visit to Delphi, Mariano Fortuny and his wife, Henriette, created the fabric: Isadora Duncan was the first customer.

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Eleanora Duse’s black velvet dress printed in silver with pleated silk side panels.

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Fortuny’s velvet cloak over a pleated dress of terracotta by St Mark’s and the Doge’s Palace where it must hav swept many times before.

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Inspirational Illustrations: Tina Chow in Fortuny

Tina Chow in one of her seventeen or eighteen Fortuny dresses: black pleated silk with laced sleeves and black and white beadwork, dating from just before 1920.

Tina Chow in one of her seventeen or eighteen Fortuny dresses: black pleated silk with laced sleeves and black and white beadwork, dating from just before 1920.

Another one to add to the pile of ‘liking vintage is nothing new or extraordinary’ is this illustration and the article it accompanies entitled: “Come up and see my Schiaparellis”, promoting an upcoming Christie’s sale. I have plucked some choice sections, but the whole article is brilliant.

“Once an area in which museums could bid uncontested for period clothes, dealers and private customers now more or less consistently outbid institutional collectors and have pushed prices to dizzy heights which inflation alone could not have done.

“The collector pur sang, the ideal, is Tina Chow, wife of the restauranteur. Her fan club is led by cheerleader Madeleine Ginsburg: ‘Tina Chow buys Fortunys. Her husband loves her to wear them, and she takes impeccable care of the dresses… We know Mrs Chow loves the dresses as we do, and she cares about them and cares for them. Poor Mrs Chow, when she goes to parties in one of her Fortuny dresses she only stands up and does not even eat’.”

“[dress as a subject] seems, 99 times out of 100, to attract the crackpot, the misguided or the downright perverted. Many is the museum whose shoe or underwear collection has been transformed overnight by the demise of some lonely soul whose solace was in rooms or drawers full of leather and lingerie.” – Quote from Roy Strong

“It is the passion to collect old clothes. Not rag picking, you understand, but Balenciagas and Vionnets and Jean Muirs and that sort of thing.”

Nice to see Jean Muir was already being talked about in the same breath as Vionnet et al, even as early as 1978.

Illustration by Angela Landels. Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Harpers and Queen, December 1978.