La robe de Fortuny que portaitce soir~la Albertine me semblait comme l'ombre tentatrice de cette invisible Venise. Elle etait envahie d'ornementation arabe. Marcel Proust, 1923, La Prisonniere
Gloria Vanderbilt and Fortuny, photographed by Richard Avedon for VOGUE 1969. In the article Vanderbilt recalls her first glimpses of the innovative gowns made with a revolutionary patented process by Fortuny :
"I recalled first seeing the gowns at Miss McNeill's Madison Avenue shop before they stopped making them...There was a whole wall of floor to ceiling drawers each filled with different coloured dresses... each its own rainbow of shades from the deepest to the palest tones, of red, or green, or blue, or violet... It was beautiful...Just absolutely beautiful... And since you never hang them up they just lay there, tenderly tucked away in loose curls and twists like little embryonic fishes."
"Each dress has an exclusivity, a nicety of details that is at the heart of its desirability, and the unique texture of the fabrics gives each one a remarkable simplicity and,at the same time, an extraordinary luxuriousness." -GV
Vanderbilt wore the jewelry designer- Rita Delisi's artful body ornament creations with her Fortuny gowns. " It was Fortuny's idea that woman is always something more than woman.. a flower... an urn... a statue."- GV The Delisi pieces seem to enhance that idea.
of all the outdoor and indoor gowns that Mme. de Guermantes, wore, those which seemed to respond to a definite intention, to be endowed with a special significance, were the garments made by Fortuny form old Venetian models. Is it their historical charterer, is it rather the fact that each one of them is unique that gives them so special significance that the pose of the woman who is wearing one while she waits for you to appear or while she talks to you assumes an exceptional importance as though the costume had been the fruit of a long deliberation... Proust
the Louvre's Nefertiti & below the Charioteer of Delphi- both inspiration for Fortuny.
Lillian Gish-1920 at left , Natasha Rambova,1924, (r)
the incredible TINA CHOW in Fortuny
Lauren Bacall in Fortuny, 1976
Isadora Duncan & her daughter in Delphos gowns,at left,Mme.Conde Nast, 1909, (r)
Natalia Vodianova in her Fortuny gowns
FORTUNY PEPLOS GOWN, c. 1920. Pink crinkled silk with attached short sleeve tunic, the bottom curving toward open side seams trimmed in silk cord and joined at intervals with blue Murano glass beads, matching trim on sleeves and tunic bottom, separate pink silk sash with metallic stenciled design. Sash and seam tape stamped "Fortuny Dep". Length 57, sash 2 5/8 x 45. (Silk drawstring frayed) otherwise excellent. $5,000-6,000. (HERE)
TRAINED FORTUNY DELPHOS GOWN with ORIGINAL BOX, c. 1920. Pale orange silk having draw- string neckline, side seams decorated with brown striped yellow beads, stenciled bodice bands (detached), tape label "Fortuny Depose Made in Italy", drum shaped box with Madison Avenue boutique label on lid, Fortuny store label with customer name and address on bottom. Bust 38, front length 55, back length 63. (Small spot on front, draw- string frayed, stitch marks from bands) good. $4,000-5,000.(HERE)
alas, likely it will be this- THE WORLD OF GLORIA VANDERBILT by Wendy Goodman.
but it's really quite alright- she has long been seen and admired here. As Town and Country writes-and rightly so-'There will never be another Gloria Vanderbilt.'
a great piece in T&C's November issue is devoted to photographs of Vanderbilt by Richard Avedon-who introduced her to third husband Sidney Lumet. Photographers Horst, Gianni Penati -a favorite GV photo of mine- and Toni Frissell's work are featured as well.
the long overdue book by Goodman provides intimate access to Vanderbilt archives- photographs, portraits, personal collections and her extraordinary homes and Anderson Cooper- Vanderbilt's son, writes the foreword.
if you can't get your Fortuny.
see my own Fortuny here
images from VOGUE Nov 1969, FORTUNY, Deschodt and Poli
and Whitaker Auctions