Monday, October 28, 2013

History's Runway: A Red Hunt Dress Coat, 1920

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Dating to 1920, this red hunt dress coat (on the left of the photo) with wide lapels and a green wool collar was made by Henry Corlett. The coat is double breasted and has three sets of metal buttons, adorned with an engraved design of foxes and thistles, on either side as well as 2 cufflink-style buttons fastening the fronts. The coat has a waist seam, a back vent and is sharply cut away at the side, forming two long tails. It is lined with grosgrain and the sleeves are lined with cream sateen.

During the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, hunting was not only the most popular sport, but also symbolic of the easy lifestyle of the upper classes. To be seen on the hunting field was the equivalent of the highest social standing.

This coat is part of an important collection previously housed in Castle Howard, Yorkshire. The collection includes seven scarlet hunt coats and one blue hunt coat as well as waistcoats, breeches, stockings and boots.

Hunt membership rules dictated the color and style of the costume. The buttons on this coat, engraved with foxes and a thistle, denote to which hunt the wearer belonged. A coat such as this one was worn for formal occasions and hunt balls--never out on the field.

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