Wallis 1970s Dark Scarlet Wool Empire Line Midi Dress
Founded in 1923, Wallis opened its first store in Chapel Market, Islington and was quickly known for coats and dresses, boasting an open challenge to its competitors through the phrase ‘Comparison invited. Competition Defied’, which was no doubt the creation of owner Raphael Nat Wallis and one that proved very effective.
By the mid 1940s Wallis had built a chain of 25 stores and enjoyed a healthy annual turnover for a business in the fashion field at the time, however when his son Jeffrey took up the reigns, Wallis launched its ‘Paris Originals’ label before successfully producing carbon copies of high-end couture pieces of the era, with a particular enjoyment of Chanel replications that drew the attentions of many London socialites, including Christine Keeler, who was famously known for the ‘Profumo Affair’ scandal around 1961.
With Zandra Rhodes later taking over as head of outerwear in 1969, both herself and Jeffrey frequented numerous Paris fashion events, only to return to Britain to recreate the garments showcased, often from memory than actual measurements, and in time for release ahead of the Paris designers themselves.
Having expanded its operations across Europe, South Africa and Saudi Arabia, Wallis became was inducted into the Sears Group in 1980, before finding itself transferred again to the Arcadia Group following their acquisition in 1999.
In 2009, Yasmin Le Bon launched her own clothing and jewellery collection under partnership with Wallis, and in 2010, the firm launch its own ‘Wallis 1923’ collection, based largely upon their archived patterns.
Smock style dresses were all the rage in the late 1960s to the early 1970s, largely because they were not only perfect for hiding a multitude of sins, but they were equally as flattering to all body shapes.
This lovely little 1970s gem comes equipped with an empire line, marvellously full bishop sleeves and slit neckline with johnny collar, making it the epitome of a gorgeously nonchalant and carefree moment in fashion, while as a simple yet captivating creation with the most elegantly embroidered ribboning detail to the yoke and hemline, it is undoubtedly a wonderfully wearable ‘darling’ of a dress.
Fabric No label present however looks and feels like wool
Size Label reads UK 10 but will fit UK 10-12
Very Good (see condition chart)
Imperfections A repair has been made by the original owner to the upper left panel
There is also a nick or two the front and back of the skirting as shown in detailed pictures
Measured flat without stretching (please double for complete size)
Shoulder To Shoulder (across back) 15″
Bust (at widest point) 16″
Under Bust 15.5″
Length (collar to hem) 43″
Sleeve Length (underarm to cuff) 20″
Sleeve Length (collar to cuff) 23″
Mannequin is UK 8-10 | Bust 31.5″ | Waist 24″ | Hips 34.5″
The dress was not pinned for photography purposes