Thea Porter Museum Exhibited Abaya Caftan Dress, circa 1975  For Sale
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Thea Porter Museum Exhibited Abaya Caftan Dress, circa 1975


This Thea Porter Abaya caftan dress was produced in 1975 and was one of the dresses that I lent from my archives to be displayed in the 2015 exhibit "Thea Porter 70s Bohemian Chic" at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, curated by Laura McLaws Helms. The mix of textiles used in the construction of this caftan was specifically noted upon on the display card that accompanied this dress in the exhibit. The card stated: Abaya, c. 1975, Designed by Thea Porter. Additional notes from Louise Fennell on Thea’s ingenious mixing of fabrics stated: ‘She’d often just put different bits of material on the floor and looked at them, and moved them about a bit; tried different things with different things – sometimes you thought, “Ooo, really??” but it always worked brilliantly.’ Like all of Thea's pieces, only a very few were produced and her caftans have come to represent Thea's work like no other piece of her clothing that she designed. Elizabeth Taylor was just one celebrity that collected them relentlessly and had a large collection that was auctioned off through Christie's in 2011. Most of the caftans fetched well over the $20,000USD mark. Barbara Bach was photoed in a similar one for the cover of the Sunday Telegraph in 1977 and that photo has become an iconic representation of the era. Each was made by hand and no two are alike. They are addictive and finding each one is like finding a piece of lost art. This one was never worn and is virtually brand new other then having been made over 40 years ago. It is very beautiful with its stunning mix of greens, metallic shot velvet on chiffon and panels of brocades. Yards of fabric were used in its construction and as with every one of her pieces like this the mix of fabrics is what catches the eye. Thea was known to hunt antique stores and markets in far off places around the globe and then incorporate and use what she found in her designs and you can feel that influence with the array of fabrics used here. The wide metallic brocade ribbon that borders the main front panel feels like it could be a bit of older ribbon rescued and re-purposed. The caftan is deliberately left unlined and it is not until it is on that you realize that all the side panels of chiffon and velvet fused chiffon are semi-transparent. This makes is very subtly sexy despite the full coverage. The patchwork feel and fabric layout is a work of art. The front panel and back panel of brocade has a slightly 'stiff' feel to it but this is only because it has not been worn, it will soften as you wear it. This one is extra special as it has a chiffon tie that loops though the front so that you can add some shape if you wish to. A very special piece, very rare and it has the added bonus of being a documented Museum exhibited piece. Excellent condition Unlined and slips on to wear. Has a matching chiffon fabric sash that you can slip through slits at the front to add shape. It appears to have never been worn. The hand written museum tag is still attached. WIdth: 59" side to side Length: 53.5" neck to hem Modern Sizing Equivalent: OSFA Reference Photos: (1-2) From the Thea Porter 70s Bohemian Chic Exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum. / (3-4) Cherie by Erin Leydon. / (5) Barbara Bach, in Thea Porter, photographed by David James for The Telegraph Sunday Magazine, April 3, 1977. / (6) Elizabeth Taylor's collection of caftans, Christie’s auction house, New York, 2011. This garment has been professionally cleaned, pressed and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.


  • Condition
  • Condition Details
    Expand description for full measurements.
  • Dimensions
    W 59 in. x D 53.5 in.W 149.86 cm x D 135.89 cm
  • Length
    53.5 in. (135.89 cm)
  • Seller Location
    Toronto, CA
  • Seller Reference Number
    Item# DD2966
  • Reference Number
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About the Seller

5 / 5
1stdibs seller since 2010
Located in Toronto, CA
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