This is a beautiful black beaded silk dress by Marilyn Monroe’s favorite designer - Ceil Chapman. The top of the dress can be worn either off-the-shoulder or on the shoulder, which causes draping across the upper bodice (see photos for dress posed both ways). The dress is basically sleeveless and has a matching sash belt that cinches the waist. It is made in a below the knee length. Otherwise, the dress is fairly simple in line, but falls beautifully and enhances the natural silhouette of the body. It does up the back with a nylon zipper. I’ve seen a similar dress that had belonged to Marilyn Monroe except this one has a more interesting bodice. Excellent quality, and sure to make an impression!
Age: early 1960s. The dress has a Canadian ILGWU label in it that was used from 1956 until 1963. The nylon zipper would most likely have been used after the 50s, but this dress is right on the cusp of the two decades.
Maker: Ceil Chapman. Ceil Chapman was an American designer, first in partnership with Gloria Vanderbilt, and then on her own, with her husband as a partner, starting in 1940. She was noted as a favorite of both the public and movie stars. Marilyn Monroe owned a number of Chapman dresses, and others, such as Deborah Kerr, Elizabeth Taylor and Mamie Van Doren wore her designs to important events. She specialized in cocktail and formal gowns and was known for her use of draping and fine fabrics.
Sizing: No size is indicated, but this should fit a medium size - please rely on the following exterior measurements for fit, taking the style of the dress into account (compare measurements with a similar dress that you presently own or to your own body measurements, taking the cut of the garment into account):
Shoulders: 19” across the top
Neckline: 15” across
Bust: 38” around, meant to be a little roomy
Waist: 28” around
Hips: 36” around
Length to Waist: 15”, measured flat
Overall Length: 40”, measured flat
Condition: In very good condition with no wear, tear, stains or missing beads. This dress looks to have seen little use and was well stored over the years.
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This is a beautiful quality dress, classic and easy to wear, yet striking and sure to make an impression.....one can picture Marilyn Monroe wearing this.....
Vintage 1960s Ceil Chapman Black Beaded Silk Dress Size M