1990s Patricia Lester Fortuny Pleated and Beaded Dress

This is a truly elegant formal gown by renowned occasion wear designer Patricia Lester who has been designing costume and fashion with her husband Charles, for over 50 years. Made from an inky black and very finely hand pleated silk which gives the fabric and incredible elasticity and envelopes the wearer. Very reminiscent of the original Mariano Fortuny evening gowns created from 1909 onwards and who was himself, inspired by the classical draped silhouettes of ancient Greek goddesses.

The dress has a rounded neckline, complete with beaded trim and long sleeves with a button cuff fastening on each side. It has a slightly dropped waistband with a horizontal ripple design, and the pleats throughout are interspersed with beads to create a subtle sparkle effect. The dress falls down to around ankle length, depending on height, and is finished at the hem with a lovely ruffle trim.

This piece makes an incredible statement and only Patrica and Charles, together with Venetia Studium have ever come close to replicating this unique fabric known in couture circles as ‘Genre d’ étoffe plissée-ondulée’. Handmade in Wales and extremely likely to have been a one of a kind, couture order. The dress is in excellent vintage condition and looks barely worn - she is without fault. In terms of sizing, the dress functions pretty much as free size as the plisse fabric will stretch to accommodate most shapes and body types. That said, we think the dress as it is, is better suited to a taller size UK 12-14 or US 8-10.


Bust - 42 in. (107.7 cm)
Waist - 37 in. (94 cm)
Hip - 46 in. (116.8 cm)
Length - 55 in. (140 cm)
Shoulders - 40 in. (101.6 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