A Little Dustyness Rediscovered

In a closet at a theatre costumier business, there was a hidden treasure...

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Editor’s Note: See HERE for an update to this story..

Recently, “Let’s Talk Dusty!” was contacted by Phil and Diane, who run a theatrical costumier business. They had found a dress and on looking at it, saw the name ‘Dusty Springfield’ inscribed on the label. 

Wondering if the dress might have belonged to Dusty, Diane contacted us for more information and the wheels were put into motion to find out whether or not the dress was indeed Dusty’s. 

Our investigations determined that the dress had indeed belonged to Dusty; thanks to our highly knowledgeable members, we were able to tell them exactly when Dusty had worn the dress, what she had been singing, and to provide her with a photograph and then a video.
Diane and Phil very kindly agreed to answer a few questions for us about their new treasure..

Can you tell us a little about your company and what you do?

Theatrical Costume House Ltd is a business providing costumes for all manner of theatre events. This includes anything from providing a set of costumes for a cast of forty in an amateur production of “Oklahoma!” to a full butlers uniform in a one-off appearance.

Almost two years ago, Denise and Diane purchased the business (already established more than 37 years ago in Westcliff, Essex) and since then, we have been working to clear old and often irreparable items in order to update the business and provide new costumes to new customers.

How did you discover the dress?

Over the years, more items have been acquired and some rails had become over-filled. Part of my job is to help organise the over-filled rails to sort the old items for ragging and to keep the items that are still good – even re-filing some dresses to the correct era/style when previously stored incorrectly. Don’t worry – we have been checking every item to ensure we’re not throwing out precious garments! I almost fell down when I saw Dusty’s name in the label!

Can you tell us a little more about the dress? What it is made of, what colour, and so on?

The dress is a full length column dress made from a snakeskin printed gold lamé-look fabric. It’s a wide v-neck, fastened with a zip from the navel to the bust with a cord-tie under the bust. The neck is edged in a purple and gold braid.

The thing that has surprised us most about the dress is how petite it is – the hem just about touches the floor on a mannequin with 4’6”shoulders. This obviously doesn’t take into account heels and the neck upwards, but with a minimal bust, it cuts a very petite figure.

In any photos and video clips (how great is YouTube!?) the dress looks to be hugging Dusty’s figure – the nature of our mannequin means that the dress isn’t as tight.

What made you come to "Let's Talk Dusty!" to try to find out more about the dress?

I had the idea to search online for a Dusty Springfield Fan Club; I thought that if anyone could help us it would be a fan club!

The first thing we wanted to do was to see if the dress actually was made for Dusty Springfield and if she wore it. Our first email was to see if she took part in any theatrical event – owing to where the majority of our costumes are from.

We then found out that the company name on the label (Vidrobes) made a lot of items for television specials in the sixties and seventies.

We searched on Google for Dusty Springfield Fan Club – the first site we looked at turned out to be the one that looked like it could be most helpful...that was LTD! Although we couldn’t find a direct “contact us” link, we thought the forum webmaster would be able to at least forward our email to the right direction.

We are so thankful for all your help and the information you have provided has been so interesting.

Now that you have found out a bit about the dress. what will you do with it?

The dress will take pride of place in the welcome lobby of the Theatrical Costume House. We are currently in the process of deciding the best way to show off the dress; either on a mannequin or behind a glass pane in a large frame – either way, we will keep the photo of her singing with Tom Jones near it to show it in use.

The first thing we decided on was to display the dress here in the costume house – this had been it’s home for many years, so we are keeping it here on display.

Diane and Phil, thank you for sharing your discovery with us and for taking the time to answer our questions.

 

Dusty and Tom Jones

Dusty singing ‘Sweet, Sweetheart’ on “This Is Tom Jones”,
January 23rd 1971

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The dress as it appears today

Dusty and Tom Jones

Dusty wearing the dress while singing ‘Rain’