This Two-Piece Beaded Gown by Puerto Rican Designer David Fernandez Is the Embodiment of 1970s Glam

On the Met Gala red carpet, this vintage ensemble would bring the heat.

What makes a truly memorable sartorial moment at the Met Gala? Thousands of guests have ascended the famed steps to fashion’s biggest party, but dressing to impress (or shock or delight), preferably with fantastical decadence, is essential to standing out. This 1970s couture two-piece beaded gown by David Fernandez offers an opportunity to do just that.

“The fabrication is truly magnificent,” says Lauren Lepire, founder of Los Angeles–based fashion boutique Timeless Vixen, who is offering the piece on 1stDibs. She notes that the garment features “thousands of sparkling glass beads hand sewn into the most sensational pattern work, complete with playful beaded fringe and fiery colors that bring this look to the next level.”

The piece’s dazzling surface, sculpted shoulders and boldly patterned train command attention, though its designer may not be immediately recognizable. “David Fernandez is not a household name but is a beloved Puerto Rican designer known for his complex beadwork and seductive silhouettes,” Lepire explains. “He designed the evening gown for 1985’s Miss Puerto Rico when she went on to win the Miss Universe title that year.”

This David Fernandez beaded couture trained gown, 1970s, is detachable
The gown’s dramatic draped train is detachable.

The ensemble would also fit the dress code of this year’s gala: “The Garden of Time,” alluding to J.G. Ballard’s 1962 short story of that title. The plot centers on an aristocratic couple ensconced in idyllic luxury, transiently preserved through magic against the changing world around them. From another protective refuge — the Met’s carefully maintained archives — come 250 objects from fashion’s distant and recent past, which will be displayed in the Costume Institute’s new exhibition “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.”

As with every Met Gala theme, this one leaves plenty of room for interpretation. Attendees may gravitate toward the “garden” element, for which Timeless Vixen’s floral bias-cut Roberto Cavalli gown would be a suitable and timely choice, given the designer’s recent passing. Those looking further back in history could opt for this feathered 1968 Christian Dior gown or embrace the darker themes of Ballard’s story with this 1992 Versace bondage dress. But Fernandez’s ensemble offers an opportunity to rediscover and elevate the work of a lesser known yet highly skilled couturier.

A David Fernandez beaded couture trained gown, 1970s, is offered by Timeless Vixen on 1stDibs
Underneath the train is this red and black beaded gown.

The gown also comes equipped with a party trick: The draped train is detachable and can be removed to reveal the intricately beaded backless gown underneath, providing the opportunity for an epic mid-staircase transformation à la Blake Lively in 2022 or Lady Gaga in 2019, both of whom enacted transformative costume changes on the carpet to great dramatic effect.

Describing the magical “time flowers” central to his story, Ballard writes, “Their diamond brilliance contained a thousand facets, the crystal seeming to drain the air of its light and motion. As the flowers swayed slightly in the evening air, they glowed like flame-tipped spears.” The glistening beadwork of this gown emanates its own captivating glow, which would provide a fiery contrast to the romantic florals on the red carpet. And seeing its glittering train draped down the steps of the Met would surely set the whole garden ablaze.

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