1950s Ceil Chapman Black Silk Taffeta Full Circle Dress

This is a brilliant example of Ceil Chapman's early work from the late 1940s to early 1950s and the black taffeta silk design is exquisite. Its the first thing you notice about this dress which has the most unusual construction. The skirt's textured element from a distance looks like a floral design but its actually a large number of circular pleated stitched designs. The way the fabric is pulled and stitched creates an almost 3D effect. We have never seen this work before but it would have taken a very skilled seamstress and an incredible amount of time to do it. The dress style is a classic shirt-waister design with three taffeta covered buttons to fasten the bodice which is beautifully shaped and Princess seamed. The sleeves are three quarter length and feature a folded cuff. The skirt element is lined with a stiffed tulle net which gives structure whilst the bodice is unlined. It is labelled with the early Ceil Chapman label in black with white scroll.

In really excellent vintage condition, the taffeta retains all of its lustre. If we're being exceptionally picky there is a small area of strained seam near the waistband and the two neck darts at the back have been slightly strained also. The dress could be further enhanced with a petticoat though it is very nearly a full circle on its own. Best fit for around a UK 6-8 or US 2.

Ceil Chapman was a female American fashion designer working and designing in NYC from the 1940s to the 1960s. She was revered as a creator of super glamorous cocktail and party dresses and celebrity clients flocked to her for her gowns including Marylin Monroe who declared Ceil Chapman her favourite designer.

Bust - 37 in. (94 cm)
Waist - 25 in. (63.5 cm)
Hip - 52 in. (132.1 cm)
Length - 51 in. (124.5 cm)
Shoulders - 18 in. (45.7 cm)

Pickup available at CIRCA VINTAGE

Usually ready in 24 hours


Will you set anything aside for me before I come?

We are happy to find anything you may be interested in from our website - please let us know a week in advance. 

We also have an extensive offline collection. If you let us know your size, style, favourite colour to wear and perhaps your budget, we can browse through our archive in advance of your appointment. 

Do I need to bring anything with me?

Clients may wish to bring modern shapewear when trying on garments from certain eras, especially the 1950s. Vintage clothing was often worn with undergarments that shaped the waist and as such is tailored for them.

We have a huge variety of slip dresses and petticoats to complete your look; many of which are also for sale.

You may also wish to bring your favourite footwear. We often find a classic pair of nude shoes work well when trying on, or a pair in gold or silver.

Do you have a price range?

Many of our lower-priced pieces (under £150) are not available to buy online. Our prices range from £80 - £600 for separates. Dresses start at around £150 and go up to £2,500 for the very best antique pieces and designer vintage. Our bridalwear ranges from £300 - £3,000.

Can I bring anyone with me?

Yes but please do let us know the size of your party in advance.

Where can I get alterations?

We offer some alterations in house. Should you need alterations we cannot provide, we can refer you to one of our tried and trusted tailors.

Do you have an after-care service?

We will advise you on the best way to clean and preserve your vintage pieces and can also recommend trusted local dry cleaners.

Can I cancel my appointment?

You are free to cancel but please do give us as much notice as possible. If you cancel less than 24 hours before your appointment, you will be invoiced a late cancellation fee of £25.

Where's the showroom?

Our address is Circa Vintage, 87A Lansdowne Way London SW8 2PB

Upon arrival, buzz the 87A button on the gate or call us 020 7736 5038 to let you in.

Do you have parking?

We offer free, secure, off-street parking but it is a tight squeeze – so do let us know in advance if you will be needing this and we can make sure that there is space available.

How do I get there by public transport?


Stockwell (7 min walk) - Northern and Victoria Lines

Nine Elms (9 min walk) – Northern Line


Wandsworth Road (13 min walk) – Westbound to Clapham Junction / Eastbound to Dalston Junction

What payment methods do you accept?

Cash, credit/debit card, bank transfer, contactless, Paypal