Circa 1961 or 1962 black silk faille sheath dress from Mollie Parnis features an overblouse shell over a slim, camisoled skirt, delivering “little black dress” chic in a elegantly lustrous fabric.
The shell is accented by a shelf bust-like yoke, with gathers along the front of the deeply scooped neckline and a pretty bow sitting on the left strap.
A spaghetti-strapped camisole in lighter weight black silk tops the skirt of the underdress, which is gathered around the waist for ease and tapers slightly toward the hem, drawing attention to the lower legs. Two onseam pockets nestle discreetly in the soft pleats justs below the waist.
The same silk used for the camisole lines the shell and skirt, and both pieces close in back with metal zippers. The lustrous, midweight faille fabric fairly screams “quality”, as does the boning at the top front of the shell (to keep the neckline lying flat), the weighting around the hem of the shell (so that it will hang perfectly evenly), and the not one but two lingerie straps on each side to anchor the spaghetti strap of the underdress (and keep it hidden).
The dress has two labels: “Mollie Parnis New York” in a sideseam of the skirt, and “Marsal Park Avenue” in a side seam of the shell.
Mollie Parnis began to work with overblouses and a slim silhouette in 1961, a departure from the full-skirted and shirtwaist styles she made for her most famous customer, First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, in the 1950s. She called fabrics like the top quality, midweight faille used here her “Sunday Silks”, and she had begun to design what she referred to as “RSVP” dresses (formal yet versatile, which certainly describes this example) in 1959.
Marsal Gowns was a high end women’s store founded by Sally Wetzler Putterman, a couture model in the 1930s, and her sister Margaret. It was in business as a “luxury apparel store” through the 1980s.
Measurements of the dress are as follows: Shell bust 34”, waist 29”, and length top of shoulder to hem 19”.
Underdress dress bust 34”, waist 23” ,hips 34” ,straps 17.5”, top of camisole to waist 10”, and waist to hem 24”.
Excellent condition, with no flaws to note.
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