1950s Dorothy O'Hara Navy Blue Dress
1950s Dorothy O'Hara Navy Blue Dress
1950s Dorothy O'Hara Navy Blue Dress
1950s Dorothy O'Hara Navy Blue Dress
1950s Dorothy O'Hara Navy Blue Dress
1950s Dorothy O'Hara Navy Blue Dress

1950s Dorothy O'Hara Navy Blue Dress


A stunning example of the work of Dorothy O'Hara, master of draping. Beautiful shade of deep navy blue with pleated bust, back metal zip, draped slim skirt, long sleeves. Light shoulder pads. Some shoulder fade, see images for details. What I love about this particular dress is that it's more versatile than many of her designs; the color makes it appropriate for day or evening, and it's not so stylized as to be costumey or overly formal today. It's just a beautifully made dress in a gorgeous rayon fabric that truly feels timeless. 

Measurements

Body measurements for best fit 36-26-36

This dress is cut on the bias, so there's a tiny bit of stretch all the way around. The dress form measures 36-26-36 and it fit well.

Bust 36"

Waist up to 27" (best for 26")

Hip up to 38" (drapes best at 36" or smaller)

 

Condition

Good vintage condition. There is some significant fade on the shoulders and some iron shine on the bust but no other issues to note. It does need a cleaning. The price is reflective of issues. The Dorothy O'Hara / Fashion Forecast label is present, I just forgot to photograph. Oops!

 

About the Designer 

Dorothy and her brother Kenneth were born in Los Angeles in 1911 and 1913, respectively. Their mother, Blanche, was a dressmaker from Ohio and married James O’Hara around 1907. It appears that he was something of an unsavory character, at least in his younger years. He worked in the mining industry, probably dealing with oil. He had two children with his first wife Rose in Colorado, then moved to Los Angeles and married Blanche, but had moved on to Texas and remarried by 1917.

Blanche was thus left in Los Angeles with two very young children, and continued to work as a dressmaker, and taught Dorothy the basics of dress design and construction. In 1934, Dorothy married Henry (Hank) J. Lunney, though she continued to use her maiden name professionally. Their son Falcon was born in 1935. During the 1930s and early 1940s, Dorothy worked for some small dress manufacturers in Los Angeles, including the Malouf Dress Corporation and Hunt Broughton & Hunt, Peggy Hunt’s dressmaking firm.

By 1945, her career had started to really take off. Dorothy and Hank established Fashion Forecast (later Dorothy O’Hara Inc.), their own manufacturing firm, 1944. She was working for Paramount as a costume designer when she showed her first collection outside California at the St. Regis Hotel in New York for Arnold Constable, at that point a long-established high-end department store, in 1945. Her career flourished through the 1940s and she became known as one of the foremost California designers of draped, sexy dresses well into the 1950s. Sadly, she died of a brain tumor in 1963 at the young age of 51. This dress is from the mid-1950s. 

For more, see my blog post here