Lesser Known Label-Lilli Diamond

blue-lilli-diamond-of-california-dress-coat-set

Lilli Diamond cocktail suit available at Blue Velvet Vintage.  38 bust 31 waist

One of my all time favorite lesser known mid century clothing labels is Lilli Diamond of California.   When it comes to well constructed,  showstopping cocktail dresses and special occasion wear the designer of this line deserves much more recognition than he has received. And, yes, I did say “He”,  because the person behind this glamorous line is designer Al Diamond, who was married to the Lilli of the label! But more on that in a minute.

In all the years I’ve been collecting and selling vintage clothing, I have  come across a handful of dresses with the Lilli Diamond label and I’ve always been impressed with the workmanship and how sexy, yet classy and sophisticated, the designs were.   But I was never able to uncover much information about the origins or designer of this intriguing label.

That was until I found this blog of a lovely ex-burlesque dancer  turned vintage collector from Melbourne, Australia. Apparently Julie is a big fan of Lilli Diamond dresses, as well, and has amassed an impressive collection. And the best part is, through her unending tenacity to find out more on the history behind the Lilli Diamond label , she was actually able to locate and interview the REAL Lilli Diamond! How cool is that?

Thanks to Julie, here are some facts about Lilli, Al and how the line came to be.

• Lilli originally came to California to be an actress. But ran into Al Diamond her second day in LA.  It was love at first site. So she put her acting career on the back burner to become a wife and mom.

•Al was a Russian immigrant who started out sweeping the floors of a dress factory.  When he met Lilli he was poor and supporting his mother and siblings. But he had dreams to one day have his own dress line.

• Over the years Al worked his way up to the cutting room. And when he took Lilli out on the town he would be inspired by the glamorous clothing women wore in Hollywood and Vegas. According to Julie’s website, Lilli is quoted as saying

“If we saw a woman walking down the street in Vegas wearing a glamorous dress, Al would rush straight back to his workshop and the next morning, he would have his own version of that dress.”

•Al eventually quit his job at the factory and started his line with a handful of samples.  And, of course, he named his line after his beloved Lilli!

•Lilli Diamond dresses were sold in upscale boutiques across the country and Frederick’s of Hollywood offered exclusive designs in their catalogs and showroom.

If you want to read more about this fascinating couple and their dress line , then you should visit Julie’s fabulous website www.lillidiamond.com.

Al designed Lilli Diamond dresses in the 1950s and 1960s,  but sold the company to Campus Casuals in 1965 and they continued to produce dresses with the Lilli Diamond label until the 1980s. Often featuring figure hugging silhouettes and glitz,   embellished with sequins, feathers, fringe or jeweled accents, they were definitely designed to turn heads!

Here are a few sold examples typical of Lilli Diamond designs.

Couture Allure  sent this lace beauty with the fabulous draped chiffon swag to a good home!

Lilli Diamond lace dress with swag

Lilli Diamond lace dress with swag

Stunning red and white cocktail dress and coat set from Tanaka Vintage on Etsy.

Lilli Diamond Red and white cocktail ensemble

Lilli Diamond Red and white cocktail ensemble

A shimmery gold bombshell dress in a figure flattering draped sarong style, sold by Fletcher and Webb

Lilli Diamond shimmery gold sarong style bombshell cocktail dress

Lilli Diamond shimmery gold sarong style bombshell cocktail dress

60 black fringe Lilli Diamond cocktail dress, a past sale from Blue Velvet Vintage.

Lilli Diamond 60s black fringe cocktail dress

Lilli Diamond 60s black fringe cocktail dress

I hope these photos entice you to hunt down a one of a kind Lilli Diamond  next time you need  a standout dress  for a special event.  And if you find something you like that will fit you, snap it up  right away, because this label is becoming more sought after, especially the earlier designs.

Have a glamorous day!

 

 

 

By | 2015-08-28T12:31:19-04:00 August 28th, 2015|Fashion, Labels to Look For|4 Comments

About the Author:

Theresa
Hi, I'm Theresa, owner and chief classy dame at the Blue Velvet Vintage online boutique. Lover of mid century fashion and home decor, classic films, Old Hollywood, pretty dresses, red lipstick, swing dancing and retro culture in general. Between my ecommere site and vintage style blog my mission is to revive the eras of classy dressing and inspire women to add more glamour to their lives! So don't be shy! I love to hear from others who share my appreciation of the styles of the past.

4 Comments

  1. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell September 16, 2015 at 9:37 am

    I do too! Aren’t they fabulous? Wish I owned all of them!

  2. Avatar
    sophia September 15, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    i love all of these dresses!

  3. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell September 2, 2015 at 8:19 am

    Hi Jessica! The Diamonds were certainly an interesting couple. And I love the fact that this diligent gal from Australia was able to track Lilli down so lovers of vintage fashion can know and appreciate more about this fabulous clothing line.

  4. Avatar
    Jessica Cangiano September 1, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Bookmarked instantly! What a fabulous post and look at Lilli Diamond. I’m familiar with the brand, but largely just in passing, and adored getting to know it even better. Thank you so much for this terrific post!

    ♥ Jessica

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