Summary

Full-length black velvet kaftan-style dress. Made by the label of Madame Serini (Irredenta Itala Serini), a post-war Italian immigrant who arrived in Australia with her family in 1950. She had trained in Italy as a designer and dressmaker, and worked for fashion houses in Hobart and Melbourne before setting up her own label in Melbourne in 1959. Madame Serini became a leading prestige women's clothing designer across Australia in the 1960s and 1970s, finally closing in 1981.

The dress was depicted in the Accent column of The Age on 26 February 1969, where it was described as a 'Balmain original, an exquisite dress of black velvet slides softly and closely down the body to the floor from a simple boat neckline. Magnificent embroidery is let into the sides and across shoulders and down sleeves which follow same line as dress.' The article, 'A touch of Wit', explains that Madame Serini of Toorak has 'simplified the mood of her collection which makes a refreshing change... Her suits and ensembles are simpler this year, relying on fabric, construction and line rather than lavish trimming - a Serini trademark. ... she has turned her attention to France this year rather than Italy, and the collection includes a couple of Balmain originals'. Pierre Balmain is a French fashion house. Madame Serini may have been re-branding the 'Balmain originals' (the label inside the dress is Madame Serini), making garments such as this in the style of Balmain or making them under licence.

Physical Description

Full-length black velvet kaftan-style dress. Boat neckline. Edging down each side, each sleeve and neckline of bronze sequins, forming a background for beading of silver disks, and black and silver beads. Slight tucking for bust. Zip to half-way down back. Black linen or cotton lining throughout.

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