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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Identifying Vintage Furs – The Janis Joplin Victorian Crazy Quilted Goat Fur Coat !

March 29th, 2024 by violette

I own a fabulous vintage fur coat embellished with Victorian crazy quilting done with an assortment of fabrics including vintage Italian silk ties, embroidered antique French ribbons, crocheted lace doilies, silk and rayon velvets, many different embroidery stitches and appliquéd birds among other wild and wondrous things. This is my Ode to Janis Joplin Vintage Fur Coat. It is truly incredible coat – original and unique like its namesake Janis herself.

I did not know what kind of fur the coat was so I took it to Swiss furrier Rene Vogel to have him identify it. The fur is very soft and fine and the leather is quite thin. It turns out that the coat is made of goat fur! The goat skin leather is soft and thin which made it possible for the seamstress who made it to hand sew the silk ties and other delicate fabrics she used directly to the leather with a hand sewing needle as she could stitch it as easily as one can stitch two pieces of cloth together such as silk or cotton.

So, my Janis Joplin Coat is actually also a Goat Coat, By the styling of the original coat we can tell it started life as a soft and supple 1940s goat fur jacket. Its transformation into a work of fur and textile art took place during the 1960s when enterprising girls with sewing skills spent considerable amounts of time reworking and embellishing their clothes into truly individual statement pieces.

I love this coat. I love how it combines a fashion fur from the 1940s with the Victorian era quilting techniques and 1960s self expression. It is a social statement, a record of fashion history and a beautiful thing all at once. I have written a couple of other posts about it //ladyviolette.com/2012/09/08/a-fahion-ode-to-janis-joplin-jacket-one-way-to-use-vintage-ties-and-furs/ and here //ladyviolette.com/2012/09/29/a-fashion-ode-to-janis-joplin-jacket-part-ii-philosophy-ensemble

I did not know what kind of fur the original coat was made of when I wrote about it previously. There is always so much information buried in the history of vintage clothes. Unearthing it is like fashion archeology……

I asked Rene Vogel if it was a good idea to do more sewing on the exterior portions of the coat where some of the fur is not sewn down – he advised me not to because the thin leather will not be able to withstand it. Why? Because it has become very delicate with age and sewing it will cause it to tear – it would be like creating a dotted line with each stitch along which that section of fur could easily be torn out. It would weaken the structure of the coat too much. He advised me to leave it as is and treat it very carefully. Here are some more photos of the amazing work that has gone into its customization.

This area is along one of the exterior sides of the coat and one sleeve. Note the natural swirls and curls I the goat’s fur – so pretty! And note that the cloth used on the sleeve is from old men’s silk ties. Also note the precise hand stitching used! I think the leather and fur in the coat may already have been deteriorating when the seamstress applied this fabric in an attempt to prolong its life with her crazy quilt patching technique which is truly clever. Many hippy girls in the 1960s and 70s were truly poor and did things like this as a way of having beautiful clothes because they could not afford to buy new ones. It was an extension of the mend and make do movement from WWII turned into an art form during the 1960s and 70s. I have a silk dress that was restyled at least 3x in which you can see all the era transitions as well. I once showed it to a vintage dealer because I felt it was truly incredible. He scoffed at me saying it was not true vintage because it had been cut into and changed. I disagreed with him – I feel it was very truly vintage because it illustrated to perfection what women did during these times to stay in fashion and extend the life of their clothes. Such clothes illustrate what life was really like during those times. I will write about that dress soon.

This is the back of the coat. In the next photo I show the front of the sleeve which Rene advised be left as is. The black fabric that you see behind the slashed goat skin is the sleeve lining which remains strong and intact. The coat can be worn and is not falling apart – one just needs to be careful not to catch the slashed section on anything that could tear it further. Cold air does not enter the inside of the coat because the lining fabric is strong and the sleeve is crazy quilted inside.

Coat can be worn as is . Here is a photo of the way I have styled it with other articles of 60s & 70s era appropriate clothing for the full out Janis Joplin Ensemble. The hat is a 1930s felt hat from New Orleans trimmed in real Persian lamb fur, real ostrich feathers and a 1940s black Japanned brooch. It is the kind of vintage hat Janis would have picked up when she was on tour performing in New Orleans. The 8 strand necklace is made of garnet, amethyst, sterling silver and Murano glass beads. I made it myself. The wine colored blouse is silk burnout velvet and the 3 tiered midi length skirt is blue rayon velvet. The length is ideal for showing off Janis Joplin’s prized old fashioned granny boots.

It is interesting to me to see all the elements that go into planning a look. When Janis got money she was determined to have the most beautiful clothes she could find. She searched for them in antique shops and flea markets and she also made dresses and bell bottom pants herself. She loved beautiful fabrics and clothes and developed her own style which became much copied by her fans.

She was ecstatic when she found a perfect pair of antique boots. //ladyviolette.com/2012/09/09/fashion-news-from-janis-joplin-september-1966-one-of-lady-violettes-favorite-quotes/ I love the level of enthusiasm she expressed as it captures how even woman feels when she finds the thing she loves and wanted. This quote is so “Right On!” to use a saying appropriate to the time period. Here is another pair she would have loved and either could be worn with this outfit.

Janis loved jewelry especially silver, beads, bracelets and rings and piled them on with abandon!

I designed this necklace myself in her honor in order to accessorize this outfit. Of course it can be worn with many other things as well. Conservative people thought Janis had outrageous fashion sense at the time but it has proved to be good taste in the long run and many people have tried to copy her style or have been inspired by it to create their own distinct looks. She would have loved this!

I’ve owned this goat coat for quite a while and only now have learned what kind of fur it is thanks to Swiss furrier Rene Vogel identifying it for me. Here is a final parting photo shawing the back of the Goat Coat. I hope I have provided enough photos and information that you will be able to spot Goat Coats if you run into them yourself! Below you will find Rene Vogels contact information if you need to identify a vintage fur or have work done on one. I highly recommend his work.

Rare and beautiful historic clothing and accessories are for sale in my online shops. If you see something on this blog that you are interested in buying, but do not find it for sale in my shops message me on Etsy or Ebay and I will get back to you about availability. I check messages daily and can always prepare a special listing for you if you do not find it already listed in the shops.

Ebay: ladyviolettedecourcy

Etsy: LadyVioletteBoutique

Poshmark: cocoviolette 

Fashion Conservatory: Lady Violette Boutique

You can reach professional Swiss furrier Rene Vogel via email  Rene’ Vogel <rdcvogel@msn.com> or by phone at (425)322-9638 to schedule appointments for all your fur related needs. 

I want to make it clear to my readers that I chose to write about Rene Vogel to share information I have learned from him about furs and to provide them access to him as a reliable professional furrier should they wish to find one. Rene is not paying me to write about him.

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