Three weeks ago, we announced we'd scour heaven, earth, and Style.com, for the little $25,000 sequined dress that Anna Wintour won't quit moaning about not getting to put into her magazine because Vogue now represents thrift.
Anna Wintour has this dress which she just loves to talk about. At every public appearance, she relays the story of how Steven Meisel wanted to photograph it, but when she found out the masterpiece retailed for a lot of money — sometimes she says $50,000, sometimes she says $25,000 — she, the fashion magazine editor with a conscience, and a firm grasp of what regular people are prepared to pay for their few, hard-won items of luxury during These Economic Times, took her protégé kingmaker fashion photographer in hand, and told him (sternly, we imagine, and also very arch and British-ly) No!
And also the dress was very little. She publicly compared it to the size of Graydon Carter's shirt. And a Wall Street Journal reporter who also was treated to the Saga Of The Sequined Dress came away with the impression that it might have been just "a bedazzled shrug," so attenuated was Wintour's gestural representation of its size.
So knowing what we do about this dress, we A) Really want to figure out what it might be, and which designer experienced the snub and B) Wish Wintour would just let Steven Meisel shoot it, so everyone at Vogue could quit mourning the lost opportunity and find something new to talk about. (Like weight loss by the "bulk-heating" method, which we hear is totally now.)
Only one of those things being within our particular bailiwick, we set our minds (and our mice) to tracking down The Dress. Let's peruse the possibilities!
Balenciaga featured this dress in its spring campaign, and it costs $65,000. (But it's on sale for $35,000.)
And this one runs to $52,000. (It's currently reduced to $27,000.) Both would, naturally, be well above the $50,000 figure Wintour originally gave for her dream dress; and we know the editor loves to feature Nicolas Ghesquière's work. (Frequent Vogue cover girl Keira Knightley wore an all-Balenciaga look on the front of the all-important September issue last year, to give just one example.) These are strong contenders.
Plenty of readers pointed to Balmain as a leader in both the provision of embellishment-encrusted dresses and outrageous prices. ("$2500 for a pair of bleached jeans"!) While basically all of the label's Fall/Winter 2009 collection would qualify in the size and the sequin measures, none of it would have been available for Steven Meisel to photograph in December, 2008 — because, of course, the collection didn't exist yet. Limiting the search to the Spring/Summer 2009 samples, which would have been out for editorial consideration in the Fall of '08, two obvious choices emerge. Both are shinier than just about anything else we've seen. But this one is tinier.
And this one is getting a lot of attention — Jennifer Connolly wore it to the premiere of He's Just Not That Into You, and Vogue-owned Style.com has it currently up as one of its banner ads.
Is a Style.com banner ad a likely consolation prize for being cut from an editorial in the magazine itself?
Brian Réyes, thanks for playing. But nothing you make costs $25,000. (And thank God for that!)
This is certainly the one of the briefest of the entrants our little search attracted. We couldn't find pricing information for Hussein Chalayan's clothes anywhere online — but a lack of U.S. stockists is a sure sign of outrageous prices. We'd consider this little number a distinct possibility. Nobody at Jezebel can recall ever seeing a Hussein Chalayan campaign in a magazine — it would be easiest of all for Wintour to cut a non-advertising designer from an editorial.
Frankly, to get into $25,000-$50,000 dress territory, you have to strongly consider couture. Chanel's spring couture runway, a tipster notes, was full of sequins and sparkling embellishment. Although couture is made-to-measure and therefore POA, this little handmade baby could easily cost 25 large. Or a lot more.
Ditto this one.
Colette Dinnigan, an Australian designer who traditionally shows in Paris, used an inordinate amount of sequins in her Spring/Summer 2009 collection.
These are just four of her many tiny, shiny, and pricey dresses.
But would Dinnigan really have the name recognition necessary for consideration in a Meisel shoot for Vogue?
We find that proposition doubtful.
Marchesa specializes in extremely expensive, beautifully crafted, red-carpet-ready gowns, most of which are so expensive and limited in production that, like couture, they don't even make it into department stores. An embroidered silk organza dress by the label costs $6,600 at Neiman Marcus; rest assured that was probably the very cheapest item from the whole collection. This piece, with its extensive beading and sequins, could well enter $25,000+ territory.
Peter Som's dresses mostly retail in the $1200-$2000 range, so it seems unlikely that even one with such heavy embellishment as this would tilt the scales at $25,000+.
Phillip Lim, your dress is beautiful, and it has the costly double-whammy of sequins, and a fabric-use-intensive bias cut. But could it possibly run to $25,000? A quick phone call to the 3.1 Phillip Lim boutique in Manhattan reveals that this baby retails for $1,500 — but it's currently 40% off. In this lineup, that's a steal.
Sequined or otherwise embellished garments are inevitably some of the most expensive pieces from any given collection, and therefore among the most unlikely to be selected by major retailers, especially during this season of financial discontent. The memory of last Fall's nightmare of inventory-clogged racks and 85% discounts stays many a buyer's ordering impulse. Sequined items from this Proenza Schouler collection that were picked up by retailers are extraordinarily expensive — $1,050 for a t-shirt, $1,350 for a skirt — and the label's regular dresses can top $3,000. But while this beaded tunic, without the pants, certainly looks as though it's not much bigger than Graydon Carter's shirt, we doubt it could actually cost more than $25,000.
Ralph Lauren Collection is pricey stuff. Regular, non-embellished day dresses retail for over $3,000; tailored pieces like jackets fetch nearly as much. We wouldn't be blown away if this offering, with its heavy beading and all around sequin-encrusted lacy good looks were retailing for $10,000-$15,000. But $25,000 might be pushing it.
The tipster who sent in this worthy contender from Versace's Spring/Summer 2009 collection called attention to its briefness and the enviable shininess of its sequins. Dresses from the Italian fashion house generally hit the $3,000-$5,000 price point, with a few "bargain" options at $1,500 thrown in for good measure; we couldn't get anyone at Versace to answer our pricing questions, but given this one has sequins, we'd expect it to go for a lot more than the usual. Versace has steadfastly refused to even consider lowering its prices even as the recession has bitten hard into sales. A contender.
An Yves Saint Laurent silk/polyester blend sleeveless dress costs $5,250 at Neiman Marcus. So how comparatively unusual would it be for this sequined baby to top $25,000? But we just don't think it's short enough.
Which contender do you think edges out the others? Balenciaga 1 or 2, Versace's little number, Chanel Couture Silver Superhero or Chanel Couture LBD, Balmain Space Cadet Y or Z? Marchesa's beaded slip? Hussein Chalayan's stiff-looking frock?
We are simply dying to know.