Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Costume Collection - Women's Dresses

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Dress, 2-Piece - click to enlarge

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Dress, 2-Piece

Catalogue number: CS*306729.001

Date: 1972

Maker: Bill Blass

Designer: Bill Blass


Tan wool knit bodice and sleeves; bodice lined with beige rayon; long fitted set-in sleeves; long, gathered, beige satin skirt attached to bodice at waistline; waistband stay; pockets in skirt at side seams; center back zipper opening; pointed cream satin collar and matching turned back cuffs; leather belt with mother-of-pearl buckle.


This dress was worn by the donor to the Bloomingdale's Centennial Ball in New York City. At that time she was a vice-president at Bloomingdale's. Bill Blass, the designer, was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, June 22, 1922. He studied fashion design at Parsons School of Design in New York and worked as a sketch artist at David Crystal, a sportswear manufacturer before he was drafted into the Army in World War II. In 1959 the firm for which we was working was merged with Maurice Rentner, Ltd. In 1960 Blass was made vice-president of the company and in 1970 he bought the firm, renaming it Bill Blass Ltd. He was noted for his woman's classic sportswear made in menswear fabrics, his elegant mixtures of patterns and knits, tweed, and shirtings coordinated with sweaters, hats, shoes, and hose, giving the person a completed appearance. He died June 12, 2002, having received the Coty award five times - in 1961, 1963, 1968, 1970 and 1971. Exhibited in Suiting Everyone: The Democratization of Clothing in America from 1974 to 1979.

Credit: Gift of Mary Joan Glynn