1990s Patricia Lester Fortuny Pleated and Beaded Dress

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This is a truly elegant formal gown by renowned occasion wear designer Patricia Lester who has been designing costume and fashion with her husband Charles, for over 50 years. Made from an inky black and very finely hand pleated silk which gives the fabric and incredible elasticity and envelopes the wearer. Very reminiscent of the original Mariano Fortuny evening gowns created from 1909 onwards and who was himself, inspired by the classical draped silhouettes of ancient Greek goddesses.

The dress has a rounded neckline, complete with beaded trim and long sleeves with a button cuff fastening on each side. It has a slightly dropped waistband with a horizontal ripple design, and the pleats throughout are interspersed with beads to create a subtle sparkle effect. The dress falls down to around ankle length, depending on height, and is finished at the hem with a lovely ruffle trim.

This piece makes an incredible statement and only Patrica and Charles, together with Venetia Studium have ever come close to replicating this unique fabric known in couture circles as ‘Genre d’ étoffe plissée-ondulée’. Handmade in Wales and extremely likely to have been a one of a kind, couture order. The dress is in excellent vintage condition and looks barely worn - she is without fault. In terms of sizing, the dress functions pretty much as free size as the plisse fabric will stretch to accommodate most shapes and body types. That said, we think the dress as it is, is better suited to a taller size UK 12-14 or US 8-10.


Bust - 42 in. (107.7 cm)
Waist - 37 in. (94 cm)
Hip - 46 in. (116.8 cm)
Length - 55 in. (140 cm)
Shoulders - 40 in. (101.6 cm)