Show-Stopping Fashion

1970’s Yves Saint Laurent Silk Velvet Haute Couture Dress & contrasting Satin Shawl $5052
Photo: 1stDibs

Nobody knows when we will return to the opera, theater, or ballet (the NYC Ballet is currently filming productions to stream without audiences). We don’t know when galas will cease being virtual happenings. There are unconfirmed reports that the Met Gala will take place sometime this year, perhaps early or late fall. Certainly, September or early October is a distinct possibility, but they might not find the international talent they are used to getting with travel restrictions. The only sure thing is that we are aching to travel and celebrate and have collectively grown weary of comfy stay-at-home fashion.

Diana Vreeland famously observed, “The eye has to travel.” It has taken on a whole new meaning this past year. Thankfully, our eyes have allowed us to travel from New York to London, Milan, and Paris for the virtual fall 2021 collections. Designers focused on unique pieces, clothes that demand to be seen. Even much of the day-wear is imbued with that “Extra” something. But, let’s face it; nothing is like finding the rare and one of a kind. Thanks to vintage websites like 1stDibs, the world’s leading marketplace for extraordinary design (their motto is “The Most Beautiful Things on Earth”), they are just a click away.

1stDibs offers a curated inventory that is not available anywhere else. They bring together many of the best sellers and makers in vintage, antique and contemporary furniture, home decor, fine jewelry, watches, art, and fashion from more than 600 cities worldwide. Marlene Wetherell, Resurrection Vintage, and Serge Liagre’s Villa Rosemaine are among its curated shops. The former ballet dancer, antique and textile collector was immersed very early in an artistic and creative universe. He founded Villa Rosemaine Vintage in 2010, based in the South of France.

The following 12 showstoppers, like this stunning 1980’s YSL Haute Couture burgundy silk velvet evening gown with contrasting violet silk damask stole pictured above, priced at $5052, are culled from the website. Each one makes me dream about having somewhere special to go. FYI, several of those included, which are attractive from the waist up, are ideally suited for a Zoom celebration, should that be necessary.

Pictured here is a very rare 1991 Gianni Versace Haute Couture bustier with figural motifs. It is made of red silk damask, densely embroidered with multi-faceted stones. I can see this head-turner worn under a tuxedo jacket with matching trousers. It is priced at $13.375 and for sale at

In a sepia tone, this Eye dress, created by Harry Gordon, is from the extremely rare, 1st edition line of Poster Dresses in London. Shaped like a simple pinafore, the striking photograph of an eye is front and center. This run of dresses came with a few different artworks, many of which are retained in museums’ permanent collections, such as the MET, the Kyoto Costume Institute, and the Victoria and Albert. It’s perfect to wear if you are attending Art Basel, the Pier Show, or a museum/ gallery opening. Priced at $2000, it is for sale at

Jean-Louis Scherrer’s powder pink silk jersey pant and the dramatic top is from Scherrer’s Spring Summer 2007 Haute Couture Collection. It was designed by Stephane Rolland. The high-waisted skin-tight pants are a couture take on jogging pants. They are counterbalanced with a sleeveless top with wide trains on the forearms, which are elastic. The collar, high rim, cuffs, and ankles are embroidered with cultured pearls, beige pearls, clear faceted stones, and gold cabochons. I love the modern ease of this truly exceptional outfit. It can be worn for an at-home celebration for a gala. Offered by Serge Liagre’s Villa Rosemaine Vintage, it is priced at $3484 and for sale at

Seen here is a stunning Paco Rabanne Haute Couture jeweled tunic dress dating from the 1980s. The superbly placed diamonds and iridescent silver pastilles are framed by embroideries of brown silk threads. Each diamond is lined on the inside by a purple iridescent aluminum plate. The brass links and hole pearls in light brown resin are geometrically assembled. There are many ways one could wear this. All you need is a great body and some imagination. I can see this worn over a body stocking, jumpsuit, or layered over a dress in a similar shape and length. It is offered by Serge Liagre, priced at $2050, and for sale at

Resurrection Vintage is proud to offer this sculptural Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons’s “Blood & Roses” dress. It is an important and rare design from Rei’s memorable spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear collection. The sculptural, museum-worthy design is made of red vinyl on one side, a woven fabric. The dress, which was shown with a red t-shirt underneath, sits on the shoulders and folds over at the front with side bustle cages and apron straps on each side. For the bold and avant-garde collector, this would be ideal for the Met Gala. Priced at $9500, it is for sale at

Alexander McQueen’s green silk chiffon evening dress features an ostrich feather skirt, hand-sewn gold bead embellishment, and high ruffled collar. It was initially shown on Lee’s highly acclaimed Fall Winter 2006 Ready-to-Wear show in Paris, a romantic ode to his family’s Scottish roots. This truly timeless, extraordinary design would be a great choice for the opening night of the ballet, or any special occasion. Priced at $30,946, it is for sale at

This extraordinary bias cut evening tunic sweater was No. 29 in the Givenchy Haute Couture Fall 2002 show in Paris. It is made of knitted mohair and fully embroidered with feathers in multicolored bands and transparent Celluloid drops. The long sleeves flare at the wrists as finger-less gloves. The waist and collar can be tightened by large inner elastics. Perfect for when the invitation reads, “Festive Attire”. It can be played up or played down, worn with jeans, an evening skirt, or a gown. Offered by Serge Liagre, it is priced at $3605 and for sale at

This show-stopping Yves Saint Laurent by Tom Ford plunging black satin column gown was presented in the Saint Laurent Fall Winter 2001 collection in Paris. Made in France of silk, it is unworn with tags. The long attached scarf, which can be worn in different ways, adds to the drama. It is an entrance maker, perfect for any grand occasion. Priced at $14,200, it is for sale at

Nothing is more iconic than Paco Rabanne’s chain mail designs. This never-worn Paco Rabanne gold chain mail sleeveless cocktail dress from the 20th century is highly impactful yet minimalistic and modern. Who needs a reason to wear this? It’s perfect for any time you want to shine. Priced at $24,500, it is for sale at

Stella McCartney’s vision injected a bold futuristic flair that was showcased during the Fall 2000 season. Inspired by 80’s glam-rock and all things over-the-top, this Stella McCartney for Chloe jacket is a show-stopping piece. It is made of thousands of plastic “feathers” in metallic tones of gunmetal, bronze, copper, and ivory, stitched to an espresso linen base. The “feathers” are layered to form a mesmerizing ombré moving from the neck to the hem. This stunning piece would add a dose of glitz to a sleek ensemble, evening gown, or jeans. It is priced at $5200 and available at 1stDibs.

Thierry Mugler’s 1979 pleated silver lame futuristic dress is aptly named “The Future is Now”. It has wide padded stand-away shoulders, horizontally pleated sleeves with zippers, and pleats converging below plunging V-neck in a sunburst design at the midriff. The back is fitted over the hips, then released in a cascade of pleats falling to a floor-length train. Highly collectible and museum-worthy, this gown was included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Heavenly Bodies” exhibition. It would make an excellent choice for the upcoming Met Ball. Priced at $7900, it is for sale at

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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