Clash of the Titans: Goddess Gowns

Oscar season is upon us, and that means goddess gowns. Goddess gowns usually share elements of classical drapery and the simple construction of the toga and chiton. Here’s a selection of patterns for Greco-Roman-inspired evening wear.

This 1920s evening dress from the House of Worth features elegant back drapery, with a beaded appliqué holding more drapery at the left hip:

1920s Worth evening dress pattern - McCall 4854
McCall 4854 by Worth (1927) Evening dress.

The illustration for this 1930s Lanvin ‘scarf frock’ plays up the classical mood with a fluted pedestal and ferns:

1930s Lanvin evening gown illustration in McCall Style News, January 1936. Image via eBay.
McCall 8591 by Lanvin (1936) McCall Style News, January 1936. Image via eBay.

This late 1940s one-shouldered evening dress has a long panel that can be worn belted in the back or wrapped around the bared shoulder:

1940s one-shouldered evening dress pattern - McCall 7862
McCall 7862 (1949) Evening dress.

Toga-like drapery distinguishes these short, Sixties evening dresses by Pauline Trigère and Jacques Heim:

1960s Pauline Trigère evening dress pattern - McCalls 6599
McCall’s 6599 by Pauline Trigère (1962) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.
1960s Jacques Heim evening dress pattern - Vogue 1333
Vogue 1333 by Jacques Heim (1964) Image via the Blue Gardenia.

This late ’60s Yves Saint Laurent evening dress has a classical simplicity, with the bodice gathered into a boned collar:

1960s Yves Saint Laurent evening dress pattern - Vogue 2093
Vogue 2093 by Yves Saint Laurent (1969) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This Pucci loungewear has culottes on the bottom, but still has that ‘goddess’ flavour (modelled by Birgitta Af Klercker):

1960s Pucci loungewear pattern - Vogue 2249
Vogue 2249 by Pucci (1969) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Angeleen Gagliano models this mid-Seventies Lanvin evening dress and toga:

1970s Lanvin evening dress and toga pattern - Vogue 1147
Vogue 1147 by Lanvin (1975) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This Pierre Balmain evening ensemble, modelled by Jerry Hall, shows a more literal interpretation of classical dress:

1970s Pierre Balmain evening dress and cape pattern - Vogue 2015
Vogue 2015 by Pierre Balmain (1979) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Finally, this jersey gown with beaded waistband, from Guy Laroche by Damian Yee, is an example of the recent trend for goddess gowns:

2008 Guy Laroche pattern - Vogue V1047
Vogue 1047 by Guy Laroche (2008) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

(From the Spring 2007 Laroche collection, the pattern is still in print now out of print.)

Goddess” was the theme of the 2003 Costume Institute exhibit; the catalogue, Goddess: The Classical Mode (Yale UP, 2003) is still available.

16 thoughts on “Clash of the Titans: Goddess Gowns

    1. I say make your life as fancy as you like! I admit I have a lot of evening gown patterns, and not enough charity balls to attend. There should be some event for us bloggers—Formal February? the Sewists’ Ball?—to provide an excuse to make & wear these things..

      1. OMG, there SO should be The Sewists’ Ball! Can we have one? How do we do it? In the summer maybe, so we don’t have to make super-fancy coats to go with the gowns? That sounds so awesome…

  1. Love these that 1930’s Lanvin….swoon. I have nominated you for a few awards over at my post Move over Meryl Streep! Congrats – If you have been nominated before for some of these, as I suspect you may have, no worries. Your blog is a valuable resource and I wanted to show my thanks.

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