Flamboyant as a matador’s traje de luces, this vintage 1980s red velvet evening jacket from Adolfo features foliate swirls of gold lurex braid trimmed in thousands of gold and silver seed beads, clear rhinestones and faux blister pearls.
The rococo gold “leaves” are thinner and most lavishly beaded along the deep V-neckline, placket, and hem of the jacket, as if to trace its short, fitted shape. They sprawl and widen on the body and sleeves, “pearl” beads and rhinestones sprinkled on them throughout to outline and define their swirling, spiky curves. Not only do an astounding quantity of beads embellish this piece, the amount of intricate handwork on it indicates that it was from Adolfo’s custom salon.
Lined in black satin, the jacket has small, integral shoulder pads which subtly support the puffed sleeves, It closes with a black metal hook-and-eye at the V of the neckline and two black furrier hooks-and-eyes at mid- and low waist, where the hemline cuts away into two waistcoat-like points.
Label reads “Adolfo, New York”. Born in Cuba in 1931, Adolfo Sardina apprenticed for Balenciaga as a teenager and worked as chief designer for Emme (aka Mrs. Ethel Price) from 1953 to 1962, when he left to launch his own millinery label. By that time, he had already won the Neiman-Marcus Fashion Award (with Emme) and the Coty Fashion Critics’ Award.
Not long after opening his own millinery house, Adolfo began to design clothing to complement the hats his models wore, and by the mid-1960s his celebrity clients ranged from the Duchess of Windsor, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Betsy Bloomingdale to Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Nancy Reagan. His custom clothing was available both in his salon and in the Adolfo boutique at Saks Fifth Avenue. His status as go-to designer for the socially prominent set continued into the early 90s (along with his earlier fans, women like Ivana Trump, Leona Helmsley, and Nan Kempner now attended his shows, often cheerfully flaunting the same Adolfo outfits as one another); in 1993, he closed his custom salon and retired from fashion design.
Measurements are: Bust 34”, shoulders 14”, sleeves 23”, waist 30”, length shoulder to waist “point” 21”, and length center back collar to hem 20.5”.
Very good condition, with two spots of bead loss on the left sleeve (see photo #7); I leave it to the new owner to decide whether to restore or knot the loose threads against further loss. Additionally, there are a scattering of broken lurex threads along the inside seam of the sleeves, where they rub against the sides of the jacket (photo #8).
Proud Member of the VFG Vintage Fashion Guild
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