Barbra Streisand wore this dress in several scenes of “Funny Lady” (1975). You’ll see it in the latter half of the film when Fanny meets Nick again (seven tooth brushes!), during the entire musical number “Let’s Hear It For Me” and in a following scene with Billy Rose. All forty Funny Lady costumes were designed by Bob Mackie and Ray Aghayan. They were nominated for a 1976 Academy Award for their work, but lost to the costume designers of the film “Barry Lyndon.” Funny Lady is set in the late 1930’s to early 1940’s, & this look has many hallmark elements of 30’s day dress styles. Flutter sleeves, floral prints, and ruffles shaped 1930s dresses into beautiful and feminine silhouettes. The look was tall and lean with midi tea length hems. There was an emphasis on a slim waist vs loose drop waist dresses of the 20’s. Dresses from these eras almost always had very modest necklines or were worn with vestees (a second layer of fabric) to hide cleavage. In the film an additional white floral piece was attached, providing more coverage at the bust.
Barbra’s dress features one major signature of the 30’s: an upside-down V shape just under the bust. The fashion at the time was to create interest at the top of the garment, with the skirt areas remaining very plain. This dress was made from black crepe with white chiffon in cascading ruffles. It has long belle sleeves, each accented with three rouleau buttons. The front bottom half is gathered into a single inverted pleat. The detailing on the back of this dress is exquisite. A zipper closes the black crepe up to the lower back, where it meets chiffon in a plunging V shape. The upper half is closed with an exquisite row of rouleau loops and buttons. The matching chiffon scarf was worn in several variations during the film including securing Fanny’s hat when she flies in an open air plane. This beautiful piece went unsold at a 2010 Julien’s auction.