The Reversible Evening Dress

by orchidsinmay on January 17, 2011 · 21 comments

in 1950s

This year the theme for Melbourne Malanka (Ukrainian New Years Eve Ball) was ‘Carnival’, like the circus or fun fair.

Originally I was feeling flowy vibe for Malanka, I wanted something that would just drift across the room on the faintest of breezes. But then the theme for Malanka was announced & I also realised that I’d have to deal with sewing a lot of chiffon & possibly some draping. Truth be told it all got to hard & I just wasn’t that inspired. Then, whilst reading ‘The Golden Age of Couture’, I happened across this Richard Avedon photo;


This dress was designed by Givenchy for Dior for SS 1955. I wanted that dress. PLUS it was in a photo with elephants. Clearly that means it can be worn to a Carnival themed event, right?! Anyway, I couldn’t get this dress out of my mind & I started to think that I was sure I’d seen a pattern for it before, then I found Vogue 2720.

I decided to make the dress in a bright red fabric. Strangely, despite red being my favourite colour, I’ve never owned a red dress, so I figured it was about time. I couldn’t decide on the lining though, so I bought some more of the facing fabric, except it was in black. Then I decided it would be fun to just make the dress reversible. So I did. Then I went a little overboard & made the sash reversible too. THEN, I thought since the theme was Carnival & there are heaps of places at the carnivals (like the hall of mirrors) that are all about visual illusions, why not change it around halfway through the night. I did & it was hilarious. I got SO many looks & double takes. The people I came with (about 7 of us went together) totally freaked because they knew I hadn’t brought a second dress with me. It was so much fun.

Here are some photos from the night (taken by my brother-in-law);

IMG_2066 (Large)
IMG_2213 (Large)
I had to make a few alterations to make the dress work I’ll be posting details on them later this week on my blog. I’ve also posted a few more pictures there.

This post was written by...

– who has written 9 posts on

Hi! My name is Steph, during the day I'm a mechanical engineer, but one of my favourite hobbies is sewing. I've been sewing for about 6 or so years now & I spend most of my spare time sewing. The things I enjoy making the most are probably the most frivolous things, pretty dresses & evening gowns, but there are some practical things that I enjoy making, like tailored jackets. Lately I've really been enjoying learning about vintage techniques & couture techniques, & applying them in what I make. I also keep a blog, you can find it here:

orchidsinmay's posts / orchidsinmay's website

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Danièle January 17, 2011 at 5:16 am

Stunning :-)


Patrizia January 17, 2011 at 5:21 am

Wow…so beautiful


JuliaB January 17, 2011 at 8:13 am

LOL! that's a very funny story – I might try that myself!! Gorgeous dress too.


Sarah Elaine January 17, 2011 at 8:42 am



Eleen Fashions January 17, 2011 at 10:49 am



otterine January 17, 2011 at 10:51 am



Oldpatterns January 17, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Wonderful job! I love that Avedon photo! Good luck trying to find elephants!


JennySlash January 17, 2011 at 12:59 pm

I LOVE that it's reversible! What a great idea for a special evening!


llama,llama not yo mama January 17, 2011 at 1:44 pm



stephanie January 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm

The way it ties reminds me of a Kimono. It is very beautiful. I seen some oriental fabric with gold embellishments on it at Payless Fabric that would be beautiful used in this pattern too!!


tammyO. January 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm

total knock-out. both sides are gorgeous.


drsue January 17, 2011 at 6:24 pm



The Lady in Red January 17, 2011 at 6:35 pm

That's really lovely!


Elegant Designs by CL January 17, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Totally brilliant! Totally stunning! Gorgeous! I am stealing your idea!


livebird January 17, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Astounding. Cunning trickery and gorgeous dress. Nice work! Wish I could have seen the faces of your friends after the costume change…


robin January 17, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Really beautiful dress, the color and fit suit you very well. I looked at your wedding dress on your blog, did you make that as well?


Prairie Lady January 18, 2011 at 12:53 am

Oh my that is just amazing! LOVE IT!'
love the trick you played also


Isis January 18, 2011 at 9:46 am

That's gorgeous!


When Ladies Dressed January 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm

This is just stunning!


Jo January 19, 2011 at 8:48 am

Wow! beautiful!


Eleen Fashions January 20, 2011 at 2:07 am

Have to leave another comment. You have the greatest smile!


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