Thursday, December 15, 2011

Norman Norell Bubble Dress - 1957

Traina-Norell, 1957
Norman Norell was the designer of this bubble dress in 1957 for the Traina-Norell label.  Anthony Traina was Norell's financial backer.  He died in 1958 and Norell took over the company and changed the label to simply Norman Norell about 1960.  Richard Avedon took this photo of Norell's bubble dress and I have to assume that the dress is puffed up with air or stuffed with something to give it this round shape.  It's likely there are slits for the arms hidden in there somewhere and when the dress was worn in a normal fashion the bubble silhouette was far less severe.

I normally associate Norman Norell with the "ladies who lunch" crowd and his design esthetic in the 60s and 70s certainly fit that mold.  But Norell was a master of stunning cocktail and evening dresses and his work in the 40s and 50s included some incredible, incredible designs.  Here are a few more examples of his earlier work.


circa 1955 from the Met Museum Costume Collection

That bubble dress at the top is not the only wacky design Norell ever did.  Take a close look at this dress from the 1950s.  Do my eyes deceive me or is this actually a split skirt with two huge harem pant legs?

circa 1950s from the Indianapolis Museum of Art costume collection
 And take a close look at this evening gown from 1949.  Those are satin harem pants under the lace skirt.