|Silk Evening Coat|
Elsa Schiaparelli, 1939
The Victoria & Albert Museum
The coat was designed by Elsa Schiaparelli for her 1939 Summer collection and is an example of the historicism which defined the fashion at the end of the 1930s, as designers reinterpreted the shapes of the leg-of-mutton shoulders and bustles that dominated the 1880s.
Schiaparelli always put the cut of a garment first. Her silhouettes were frequently described as having a “strict neatness with angles replacing feminine curves.” With its theatricality and almost cardinal-like overtones, this evening coat demonstrates modern and forceful lines and the streamlined simplicity which dominated late 1930s fashion.