D-199 Gift of Anne Warner, 1994

Clothing from the Seventies, to paraphrase a famous comedian, gets no respect. When one thinks of clothing from that decade, images of flared trousers, large pointed collars, and a plethora of polyester immediately come to mind. But there were moments of brilliance amidst the hippies and the disco divas of the era. Think Halston and his halter-top dress, or Diane Von Furstenberg’s wrap dress. Both have become iconic symbols of the Seventies that have transcended the decade to become fashion classics.

This dress from 1979 is on the cusp of a new decade. Disco was not yet dead, but this dress eschews the deliberately suggestive styles of that time (designed to attract the opposite sex on the dance floor) in favor of a simple yet elegant sophistication, with elements of romantic innocence such as its vivid floral print, large sleeve ruffles, and lace trim. I imagine this dress being worn by the new breed of woman that emerged from the “Women’s Lib” movement of the early Seventies — a woman who smoked Eve cigarettes and wore Charlie perfume and who could bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. And when she entertained at home (her dinner parties possibly including a fondue set and DuBonnet), this hostess-with-the-mostess would have been the center of attention in this dress. Perhaps a little outside of Mary Tyler Moore’s comfort zone, but Rhoda Morgenstern would have been in her element wearing this.