The first time I saw a photograph of a Fortuny dress in a magazine (Smithsonian magazine, I think) was enchanted with the wonderful fabric; it drapes so beautifully, and the tiny pleats are amazing. Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (1871-1949) was born in Granada, Spain but moved to Paris when he was a young child with his mother. As a young man, he moved to Italy where he lived worked and worked most of his life.
Fortuny created these gowns from 1909 until his death in 1949. He based the designs on ancient Greek clothing; the two piece dress is called a Peplos and the one piece is called the Delphos. They were originally designed as tea gowns to wear inside the privacy of one’s own home but Isadora Duncan and other daring women wore them out in public. To keep the pleats in the dress, you twisted it and stored it in its own little box. If the dress needed cleaning or needed to be re-pleated, you’d send it back to Fortuny’s atelier in Venice. He took his secret processing of pleating the silk to his grave. What an amazing artist he was.
If I won the lottery, I’d buy one of these lovely dresses at an auction. Then I’d have to create an event to wear it to…because it doesn’t really fit my current social life here in the Pacific Northwest!
Hint: click on this photo, and when the larger image comes up, hover the cursor over it and click.