Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Full velvet obsession

design by Jean Patou, 1935


Oh, glorious velvet! I can't get enough of you! This is one of my latest finds, bought the other week at a local auction. Sorry about the not so great pics, in spite of my efforts they came out not very clear and I am not showing the garment properly. I had to take them quickly though as the coat is pretty yucky without necessarily appearing so. I got red inflamed patches wherever it touched my skin directly!!! I know, I'm allergic to vintage, how cruel is that...
This odd super sensitive skin of mine had me part a couple of years ago with the most beautiful feather cape. It broke my heart, but every time I put it on my whole chest would go bright red and be itchy and stingy and feel like a burn, so really I had no choice. I let it go for next to nothing too, fearing that it might cause to others what it did to me...

Anyway, let's toss sad memories aside and concentrate on the present matter. The coat doesn't cause me irritation to the same extent, and hopefully after cleaning things will be better. And I did buy this one with the intention of reselling it, except that now...well now I don't really want to anymore...Although in order to make this wearable there is some work to be done. 
The lining needs replacing. It's completely shattered inside the sleeves - that's the section causing the itching - and has some serious holes towards to bottom. The only thing that worries me with replacing the lining is losing the original label. This coat has no other but a Harrods label, and if at some stage I do decide to sell it , then removing the original label wouldn't be such a good idea. I don't know whether a partial lining replacement might be any better?!...
It is in need of some stitching too, as the underarms came undone, but luckily no tears as such. No doubt this happened when it was tried on at some stage, I could see that easily happening, this coat is tiny especially the underarm to underarm at the back and wouldn't fit anyone with a decent size to them. If I do keep it, I shall have to handle it very carefully.
There is a bit of fading to the sides, but it's far more apparent in the pictures than it is in reality. 
I think in spite of all this its a beautiful coat. It really didn't say much to me when I looked at it on the hanger among the other lots at auction, but when I tried it on after wining it, ooh, my...


Now you'll think: ok, but why all these pictures? Well, it's because I spent hours researching this design. 
The auction house had it listed as 1920's, and it really bugged me because my first thought when I saw it was: yeah, a 1930's coat. Now of course I'm far from the expert, so if any on you know better, please do help.
The length places it in the 30s, as I know the 20's coats were generally shorter, as the dresses were. But perhaps not all of them...But then this billowy three quarter sleeve design seems typically 30's. 
As you can see I found some similarities in the first two examples, dating to 1932 and 1935, with the exception that those sleeves are cut and gathered below the shoulder. The other examples, from 1935 and 1936, are even more similar to the sleeves in my coat, with simply narrow fitted bellow elbow, and a mass of billowy fabric above that. My coat, similarly to those shown, doesn't have any fastening, and seems meant to be worn open over a dress that would show.
Admittedly the pics I found show day coats rather than evening coats, and they too are all shorter than my coat - with the exception of the Patou design, which could in fact be a dress. However this sleeve treatment seems to be typical of mid 30's big and puffy approach to sleeves and the fashion for feminine frills and embellishments,  in this case the bow-like adornment on the side of the collar.
Now over to you for the verdict!



  1. lovely! I would agree that it's 30s and more likely evening, though in the early 30s, velvet in the afternoon wasn't unheard of!

  2. by the by, with your hair like that, you look like an Art Nouveau beauty! A little May Morris, a little Gabrielle Ray, a lotta Mucha goddess!

  3. Ditto the Baroness! :)
    Stunning! Definitely 1930s.

  4. Thanks Baroness! Yes I did like my hair yesterday, it was the first time after having it cut when I could do anything with it. The back is pinned up a little bit and the front curls are brushed out and left hanging wildly. It did cause some stares in the supermarket later on :)

  5. The Mucha goddess is the best compliment ever!

  6. Great hair :) I left a blue velvet Blanes of London forties dress in a charity shop the other week because it was £20. I have thought about it every day since. Stupid girl. Can't beat blue velvet! x

  7. Thanks ladies! I had to fork out a bit(!) more than £20 for this coat, even with all the work it needs, but I am happy with it. But definitely know how it's like to leave stuff behind and be gutted...

  8. Shocking! I just got back from my dry cleaners, they quoted me nearly £80 to replace the lining in the coat. Is it just me thinking that's insane? Perhaps it would be worth for a coat worth hundreds and hundreds, but I can buy another coat for that money...It may be a big job, but I think that is extortionist!

  9. just sublime. she was wearing blue velvet. :)