Ceil Chapman began her career in New York, her first company was ‘Her Ladyship Gowns’ started in 1940 with partner Gloria Vanderbilt. The she went on to another company labeled 'A Chapman Original' which later became simply ‘Ceil Chapman’. She was a popular, talented designer through the early 1960's. Known for her exquisite draping that enhanced the female form, she became a favorite among many stars of the era, such as Deborah Kerr and Elizabeth Taylor. Rumor has it she was the favorite designer of Marilyn Monroe. This Ceil Chapman gown was worn by Monroe and sold in 1999 by Christie’s. Ending price is said to have been $100,000.
Her specialty was evening, formal wear, done in silks, taffeta, chiffon and organdy, embellished with beading and lace. She designed a great deal for movies and television.
You can find her designs featured in most of the fashion magazines through the 1950's, along side greats such as Dior and Chanel.
The 50s and early 60s were Ceil’s heyday with her partnership with her husband ending in the mid 60s. Sadly she died in the late 1970s.
Today her timeless designs are highly sought after and can be found in various sites on the internet. They still command a high price but totally worth it if you can find that perfect gown.
Below is two of her designs featured in the December 1950 issue of Ladies Home Journal. The rose tulle strapless was a design that remained a leading style through the 1950's. The gold taffeta evening coat was constructed mid length to wear over the ever popular cocktail dress.