From Kaftans to Couture: Thea Porter’s Fashion Legacy

Thea Porter was known as “the ultimate purveyor of ultra-luxe bohemian style.” Renowned for exotic fabrics and sumptuous patterned silks, inspired by her nostalgia for the Middle East (where she was born and brought up), Thea shared her love of textiles and romanticism with other designers of her day, including Bill Gibb, Gina Frantini and Zandra Rhodes. Commissions for her luxury, one off designs came from the likes of Pink Floyd, Crystal Gayle, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Streisand, and Veronique Peck; and her vintage pieces are still sought out today by stars and fashion insiders including Kate Moss, Julia Roberts and the Olsen twins. 

We are fortunate to have a stunning 1970s Thea Porter Couture creation at ShopCurious, possibly from the 1970 Autumn Flowers collection that was shown at Tramp nightclub. Timelessly glamorous, the flowing gown is one of Porter’s seven iconic designs - the most popular being her Gipsy dresses, Abayas and Kaftans, and best selling Faye model (named after Faye Dunaway) - the latter of which this dress is a fine example. The Orientalist style dress has a black silk devoré bodice, finished with burnt-gold-thread covered buttons and piping, whilst the silk chiffon skirt and sheer sleeves feature a bold floral motif in the golden shades and browns of dried roses, highlighted with gold lamé thread. 

Similar dresses shown here were photographed at a 2015 exhibition at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum. The Faye dress in ikat silk chiffon (below) was designed by Sandra Munro, with a bodice of Damascus brocade and comes from the Cherie Federau collection. 

Those wishing to learn more about the art and craft of the acclaimed designer may wish to read Thea Porter: Bohemian Chic, written by the exhibition curator Laura McLaws Helms in collaboration with Thea’s daughter, Venetia. 

Venetia Porter subsequently edited her mother’s previously unpublished autobiography, Thea Porters Scrapbook, containing examples of her early artwork, sketches and notes, plus an introductory essay by the fashion historian, Amy de la Haye. This would make a perfect gift for anyone who loves Bohemian clothing, is a vintage clothing collector, or passionate about textile and print design, fashion history, 1960s and ‘70s culture and style.