Barbra Streisand wore this Thea Porter kaftan as Ester Hoffman in “A Star Is Born” (1976). As Streisand fans know, the wardrobe from A Star Is Born was famously credited as “Ms. Streisands clothes….from her closet.”
Porter’s pieces are highly collectable because they were made by hand no two were alike. She would source often various antique fabrics from the Middle East, therefore finding one is like finding a lost piece of art.
Her highly collectable, rare pieces are now worth thousands of dollars & have been the focus of fashion exhibitions worldwide. Barbra was one of Thea’s many celebrity clients. When she was renovating her house in Malibu, she had gotten in touch with Thea (who was dubbed the godmother of bohemian sheek) and she explained what every room was going to be like, and that she needed a different outfit to match each room.
Dorothea “Thea” Seale (1927-2000) was raised in Damascus. She moved to London after separating from her husband Robert Porter, where she worked in interior design. Her first shop in Soho sold imported fabrics & hangings. Determined to have beautiful cushion covers, she began cutting up imported kaftans, but realized they were fashionable in their own right. This led her to start selling them, but when her imports couldn’t keep up with the demand, she began to make her own from mixed fabrics & antique trims. Soon she expanded internationally, selling certain designs wholesale to Henri Bendel & Giorgio Beverly Hills, where Barbra’s kaftan came from. Giorgio is legendary for it’s vast selection of the finest fashion available. In the film “Pretty Women” it was Julia Robert’s first shopping stop. The store sold over $300,000 worth of Porter’s designs per year in the mid 1970’s.
For almost twenty years, exotic garments inspired by the Middle East and luxurious richly-patterned silks and antique fabrics, were Thea Porter’s trademark.
Barbra’s kaftan was made from silk, plain weave chiffon. It is resist dyed with heavy gold sequin & silver metallic embroidery, and discontinuing patterned wefts. It features a keyhole neckline & brocade panels accent the sleeves. Red velvet vertical trim runs down the front and back. This breathtaking piece sold at auction in 2014 for $2,000.00 USD.