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Lady Violette

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Styling a Vintage Fur Coat with a Custom Designed Hat to Create a Unique Head Turning Original Look

Sunday, April 14th, 2024

It can be a challenge to style a fabulous vintage piece in a way that will look unique and stylish, instead of frumpy and old fashioned. After restoring the purple wool and cross mink coat I tried it on and loved it, but felt it looked too 1950s all by itself. I felt it needed a special something to make the look my own and make it into a unique head turning outfit. By this I mean an ensemble that will make people turn around and look at you and what you are wearing at least twice.

There is no better way to do this in my personal experience than with a hat. See my article on wearing hats: Confessions of a Head Turner.

Sometimes I design and make my own hats. And a while ago I designed my Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat. It seemed like the perfect style to go with this coat and transform it into something really special. And I just happened to have purple yarn in the correct weight to make a purple version to match the coat. So, here it is.

It is a hand knitted cloche style hat trimmed with a giant knitted bow. It is an intermediate level knitting project and I am providing the pattern free of charge as well as detailed instructions on knitting and assembling the hat here: Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat and Free Knitting Pattern ~ Part I and here: Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat Pattern by lady Violette de Courcy, Part 2 ~ Knitted Bow Tutorial 

Coat is by Joymor Fashions. Hat is my own design. I call the pattern The Edward Hopper Inspired Portrait Cloche Hat by Lady Violette de Courcy. You can view more versions and colors of this hat on my Ravelry ladyviolette Project Page here. Once you get to my Ravelry project page please search for Edward Hopper Hat in my projects and several of them in several colors will come up. And you can find the pattern to make the hat in the above links.

The Hat was inspired by the hats worn by women in artist Edward Hopper’s paintings Automat and Chop Suey in which the subjects wear attention getting cloche hats in strong distinctive colors.

The cross purple wool cross mink fur trimmed vintage in this post coat was restored and repaired by Rene Vogel custom Swiss Furrier and Denise Vogel.

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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Manton de Manila – a Magical Medieval Garden in a Hand Embroidered Silk Shawl with Pansies, Roses, Irises and Other European Flowers – c1845

Saturday, April 13th, 2024

This unusual Manton de Manila has flowers I have not seen in other shawls : namely pansies in very realistic colors and what appear to be beds of miniature irises in many colorations surrounded by blue small forget-me-nots and both pink apple blossoms and white strawberry blossoms – all intertwined with vines and leaves. There are also blooming purple anemones and pink roses in the borderer. Then the enormous pinkish red hybrid peonies/ roses with tiny flower-like stamens in their centers. All in all quite fantastical!

These varieties of flowers were traditionally raised in Medieval European monastery gardens. When Spanish Catholic monks from Europe established churches in conquered new lands they brought seeds with them for the medicinal plants – the herbs and flowers – they raised in the European monastery gardens. One of the first things they did when they arrived in a new place to teach the word of
Christ was plant a garden in which to grow the medicinal plants and flowers they were used to.

This is one of the main ways in which unusual flowers made their way to different parts of the world.

It is likely that the Spanish established lush gardens in the Philippines. And, that those flowers were shown to the makers of embroidered shawls in Canton when Mexican, American and European Women requested embroidered shawls be made with bright colorful florals rather than Asian landscapes and reptilian designs.

When you look at many Manton’s de Manila you can see that the designs were often botanical hybrids combining elements of Asian and European flora and fauna to create unique and appealing fantasy gardens filled with imaginative flowers

Thus the giant Peony / Rose must have evolved. And sometimes grew to enormous proportions dominating the design of many of the shawls.

Roses like these pink ones above and the red ones below, both from my own garden, may well have inspired the pink roses in the outer border and the big red ones in the dominant center of the shawl

Owning a beautiful floral shawl is one way to preserve flowers and enjoy them in your life all year around.

This shawl has a 56 inche square double weight black silk center section and is surrounded by a 25″ fringe on all sides making the total size a 106″ square! The fringe consists of a 7″ wide hand done heavy and elaborate macrame lattice followed by an 18″ long fringe all the way around. High Drama! It was bought in San Francisco during the 1840s and displayed in the drawing room of a San Francisco mansion . It was occasionally worn as an evening wrap. Fortunately it was very well cared for so has survived in excellent condition. It is embroidered on both sides which makes it reversible. I have seen hundreds of these shawls and It is the only one I have ever seen including pansies in the embroidery design. Definitely a Manton de Manilla for pansy lovers. Of course the other flowers are beautiful too!

These are real pansies from my garden. They come in many colors and I have seen the real ones in peach and purple like the ones in this manton.

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 

FashionCnservatory: Lady Violette Boutique

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Manton de Manila – Extraordinary Embroidery of Fantasy Flowers and Exotic Imaginary Birds

Thursday, April 11th, 2024

Each antique Manton de Manila that I see seems to be more extraordinary than the last! The imagery is always unique and different than the ones I have seen before. This one features blue, orange and purple roses – and a few creamy white ones for balance. Blue and Purple roses do not exist in nature. The designer made them up as she also made up the interesting hybrid pheasant like birds in equally unrealistic color combinations . I love descending into the wonderful world of this artists imagination.

In addition to the blue and purple roses there are orange roses and orange anemones and many types of small flowers, berries and what look like seed pods of thistles……

I’m intrigued by the birds in imagined color combinations and the mixed up breeds! And by the landscape inspired by a combination of Asian and European trees, flowers and foliage.

The initial embroidered shawls made in the Canton embroidery workshops for export to the Americas were decorated with typically Asian landscapes scenes and included Chinese people and buildings such as pagodas and bridges. They notably included frogs which were regarded as symbols of good luck in China and they did not have any fringe. The silk, the colors and the embroidery technique was much admired by potential customers but the Images of the frogs dominating the centers and borders of the shawls were not popular! Wealthy Mexican and California women did not want to adorn themselves with frogs! They suggested images of birds and flowers as an alternative. And they requested the additions of the wide macrame edging and long fringes be added the edges of the shawls.

The women had discovered that long fringe, like long beautiful hair, moved gracefully and added an element of seductive exoticism to their attire. They essentially knew how to work the long fringe and requested it be added to the shawls. The wider the macrame lattice and the longer and heavier the fringe the better. And they were willing to pay for it. Thus, the Chinese merchants accommodated the desires of the clientele demanding the embroiderers add lattice work and fringe and focus the imagery on fruits, flowers and birds.

This particular shawl is an excellent example of all this – as it is huge, heavy and absolutely covered in embroidery. The macrame lattice is 7 inches wide and the fringe is an additional 18 inches long. Both the silk embroidery and the fringe add to the weight of the shawl which makes it hang and move really well.

The size is enormous because the shawl when folded triangularly in half was meant to wrap the wearer from the back of her neck to the floor completely covering her long dress and very full crinoline skirts. This shawl was made in the 1840s for the Mexican market. Today it would easily cover a king or queen size bed. I have spread it out on a conference table that seats 12 people – 6 along each side – so that you can a good idea of the size and the design spread out flat. This is an extraordinarily fine example of a Manton de Manila as an art form! Fortunately it is also in wonderfully well preserved antique condition.

The center embroidered section of the shawl is 60″ square and the fringe is an additional 25″ all around which makes the entire shawl 110 inches square. It is possible to fold and wrap it as a long evening dress as well as ware it as a long cape. I will create an post explaining and showing how to do this soon.

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: cocovio   lette 

FashionCnservatory: Lady Violette Boutique

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

Friday, March 29th, 2024

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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What Happens When a Fur Coat Gets Wet?

Wednesday, March 13th, 2024

Years ago I was caught in a terrific sand and rainstorm while walking on the sand dunes in Florence, Oregon. It was in December and very cold out so I was wearing a seal fur coat to stay warm. When I set out on the walk with my friends it was sunny and clear out. The sand dunes were beautiful but while we were there, exploring, a sudden violent storm came up and we were pelted with blowing sand and drenched with penetrating rain. It was a terrific storm with waves crashing on the beach. It lasted a couple of hours. We were able to shelter on the side of a dune during the worst of it and we had a hard time making it a couple of miles back to our car. Fortunately, none of us were hurt. My seal fur coat, however, was destroyed! Much of the seal hair had been ripped from the leather and the leather was completely soaked. Sadly, I had to dispose of that beautiful soft coat. I have never forgotten the experience. Consequently, I now take precautions to protect my furs.

I asked professional furrier Rene Vogel and his wife Denise what would happen if a fur coat got really soaked – essentially drenched in a rainstorm or via some other unfortunate method and you were able to get the coat to a professional furrier right away. This is what Denise responded.

“Regarding drenched coats: The rare times we have come across a customer with a drenched coat was when they had brought it to us after the fact, when the garments were already dry. One lady had put her fur coat in a clothes dryer and it destroyed the coat, so it was not salvageable. If a customer would bring a drenched fur to us while still wet, we would have to first use a towel to remove the excess water and then hang it up on a rack with air circulation around it to allow it to dry naturally with no additional heat. Once dry, René would need to evaluate the leather to see if it would still be supple and if it retained its original shape. Depending on the age of the garment, it may become dry and brittle or lose its shape. When furriers create fur garments and when they remodel furs, they use water combined with a special leather softener to wet down the backside of the pelt which is the leather side of the fur. This process allows the pelts to be stretched and nailed to a board in the desired shape. Once it is dry, the furrier places the pattern on top of the leather-side, draws the desired outline on the leather, cuts it with a special furrier knife and then the seamstress takes over with her finishing work. The leather softener is a solution which helps to prevent the leather from drying out and becoming brittle and hard. If the water-damaged garment is too old or the leather too thin, the leather will not be salvageable. If it has become too hard and is no longer supple but deemed to be salvageable, the furrier could take it all apart and start all over again, like a remodel, wetting down the leather side of the fur with the leather softener/water solution, nailing it out to the former shape and putting it all together again. This would be an expensive job, because it would essentially be like remodeling the coat. The lining, if drenched, would most likely be damaged beyond repair, so a new lining would have to be used.”

It is best not to get your beautiful furs really wet, obviously!

The vintage fur and fur trimmed coats pictured in this post are in good condition happily safe and dry in my house! I always keep an umbrella in my car because I live in Seattle and it rains a lot here. I highly recommend carrying an umbrella & an alternative rainproof coat in your car as well just in case you are caught in a severe storm. I keep a Mycra-Pac Donatella Raincoat, pictured below, in my car in case I get caught in a severe rain – this coat is long and full and has a nice big hood so I could conceivably put it on over a fur coat or jacket to keep the fur dry. It also comes with a bag you can carry it in. It folds up into a small neat bundle which is essentially a small shoulder bag style purse – the Mycra-Pac – that you can keep it in when not in use. It is water proof and will keep you and your valuable fur dry in an emergency.

Another good coat raincoat of the same type is the UBU 39″ Reversible Parisian Style Pleated Raincoat. which comes in both knee and midi length versions. //poshmark.com/edit-listing/651f3e9104b36d97a6dbae96. This coat is also rainproof and full enough to fit over and protect a fur coat if necessary.

Of course we wear our furs in order to look beautiful and stay warm and we don’t want to cover them up unless we are caught in an emergency rainfall. I am sharing my own solutions for protecting my furs in downpours now after having lost a special seal fur coat in that dreadful Florence Sand Dunes storm. I happened to be walking recently in Discovery Park in Seattle when wearing one of my furs and it looked like it might rain, so I put on my Mycra-Pac Donatella over my fur and proceeded on my walk. I actually saw an owl in one of the tall trees and sure enough I was caught in a rain – but because I was prepared I stayed both cosy warm due to my fur and completely dry because I had put my waterproof raincoat on over it. Above is a picture of the rainbow I took at the end of my walk. Had I not had the raincoat with me to put on over my fur I might have missed seeing the both the wild owl and the rainbow!

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.

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. Some vintage furs and fur trimmed items are currently listed for sale in my shops and others will be listed as they are ready to sell. I also list fashionable and extremely practical raincoats such as the ones shown in this post when I can find them. The Black/Teal Parisienne shown in the above link is currently available in my shop.

Items are always in process of being readied for listing so all inventory is not already listed and photographed. Feel free to message me on Ebay or Etsy if you are seeking something in particular as I may have it or be able to find it for you. There are contact seller buttons on all listings in the stores which allow you to write me messages. 

Ebay: ladyviolettedecourcy

Etsy: LadyVioletteBoutique

Poshmark: cocoviolette 

Fashion Conservatory: Lady Violette Boutique

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