Designed by
Holder, Geoffrey, Trinidadian American, 1930 - 2014
Created by
Grace Costumes Inc., American, founded 1961
Worn by
King, Mabel, American, 1932 - 1999
Subject of
Black Fashion Museum, American, 1979 - 2007
synthetic fiber, taffeta, velvet, net, cotton, yarn, plastic, passementerie, rhinestones, wire, feathers, metal, and elastic
H x W x D (On form (ab)): 66 × 41 × 51 in. (167.6 × 104.1 × 129.5 cm)
H x W x D (On form (b)): 45 × 33 × 33 in. (114.3 × 83.8 × 83.8 cm)
This gown and petticoat are part of a costume worn by Mabel King as Evillene in "The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical 'Wizard of Oz'" on Broadway. The floor-length gown (a) is made from a black synthetic fiber and has a bejeweled open-neck bodice, puffed sleeves, decorative eyes covering the bosom, and a very full skirt with a purple and deep rose ruffled trim and a slight train. The petticoat (b) is made of a multi-layered black synthetic taffeta.
The bodice of the dress has a sweetheart neckline, with two (2) thick shoulder straps edged with black velvet. A triangular panel of brown net is attached at the center front bodice, wrapping around the neck to the proper back. This net is decorated with red and black rhinestones, black tape with beaded fringe, gold beaded paillettes, and a single black beaded bobble at the center front. Affixed to the front of the bodice are two (2) large eyes with eyelids and eyelashes. The eyes are made of clear hard plastic, lined with undyed muslin. At the center of each eye, between the muslin and the plastic, a black plastic disk is attached depicting the pupil, and a red rhinestone is sewn to the inside corner of each eye, depicting the tear duct. The bottoms of the eyes are edged with black velvet ribbon. The eyelids are made of black spandex, edged with black plastic eyelashes. Fishing line is attached at the center bottom of each eyelid and strung throught the velvet eyeball edging and under the dress's black velvet waistband. Below the waistband are short lengths black nylon braid with pom-poms attached at the end; when these pom-poms are pulled, the eyelids close partially over the eyeballs.
Each sleeve is made of multiple layers of black tulle gathered into a large puff and ending at the elbow. The sleeves are attached to the bodice at the front and back underarm, left open to reveal the shoulders. The sleeves are attached with elastic black cord at the top of each shoulder. Two black yarn pom-poms attach to each sleeve at the top of the shoulder. Between the pom-poms on the proper right sleeve are two brown and black marbled feather quills, which have the appearance of once having been longer plumes that broke off.
The waist of the dress has a wide band of black velvet, which closes over the center back zipper using snaps and hook-and-eyes. The skirt is made of several panels of black synthetic fiber. Black velvet ribbon is stitched over the seams of the panels on the exterior of the skirt. Two wide ruffled panels are sewn around the hem of the skirt. The top ruffle is made of a purple synthetic fabric with a metallic sheen, and the bottom ruffle is made of a rose synthetic taffeta. Synthetic net stiffener is sewn to the top and bottom edges of both ruffles. Black yarn pom-poms are attached around the black portion of the skirt at regular intervals, increasing in size from the waist to the hem.
The entire interior of the bodice is lined with cream drill, and boning tape is sewn at regular intervals. A pocket of black synthetic fabric is sewn in the center front interior and over the interior proper left breast to hold the wearer's microphone. The interior waist has a length of black grograin ribbon that attaches at the center back with a single hook-and-eye. The skirt is not lined, but there is a net underskirt with a ruffled hem doubled over and attached across the back interior of the skirt.
The petticoat (b) is made of a multi-layered black synthetic taffeta. Like the gown, it is shorter in front. Two tiers of ruffles are sewn at the hemline, each edged in synthetic net stiffener. The waistband of the petticoat attaches with hook-and-eyes. There are five (5) eyes on the exterior back left waist, one (1) eye on the exterior right side waist, and three (3) hooks on the interior back right waist for an adjustable fit. Two lengths of black twill tape are sewn as loops at each side.
Place used
New York City, Manhattan, New York, United States, North and Central America
Collection title
Black Fashion Museum Collection
Clothing and dress
Costume design
Musical Theatre
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of the Black Fashion Museum founded by Lois K. Alexander-Lane
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
No Known Copyright Restrictions
Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.

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