Circa 1970 panne velvet evening tunic and pants ensemble from Bill Blass features a psychedelic print combining earthy shades (cinammon, olive, cream, indigo, cobalt and turquoise) with a swirling blend of Persian-inspired paisleys and organic motifs. Reflecting the vogue in the late 1960s and early 1970s for opulent, ethnic-inspired clothing, the silhouette of the set resembles a Southeast Asian churidar kameez.
The long tunic—which also works as a dress, worn solo—is trimmed in jewelled gold braid at the neckline, placket and hem, as are the cuffs of the pants. Tunic features an asymmetrical closure which zips most of the way and finishes with three fabric covered snaps; pants have a straight, fluid cut, and close with a side zip. Both pieces are lined in brown silk or a silk-blend, leaving no seam allowance for a burn test on the velvet, which appears to be a silk/rayon blend.
Research leads me to believe this set was from the designer's fall 1970 collection. It reflects both the general trend toward printed velvets and evening separates such as tunics and pants at the time, and Blass' celebrated emphasis that year on a lengthened hemline and opulent evening fabrics, including trimmed panne velvet prints.
The tunic is labelled "Bill Blass" at the back of the collar, with a "Bergdorf Goodman on the Plaza, New York" label at the hem. Both pants and tunic are tagged a vintage size 12, and the tunic has the blue ILGWU in use from 1963-1974.
Exact measurements are: Tunic bust 35", shoulders 15", waist 34", hips 38", sleeves 22.5", and length 39". Pants waist 26", hips 35", inseam 28", and length 41".
This extraordinary set is in good/very good condition, with four areas of rubbing or wear through to the velvet (from pinprick-sized to 1/16" in diameter), all well camouflaged by the print and the brown silk lining. One is on the front top right of the tunic (photo #8), one is alongside the bottom snap on the tunic (hidden while worn), and the other two are on the front top left and side seam of the pants.
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Antique through Vintage Fashion & Jewelry