Several months ago I posted that the Fashion History Museum was raising funds to acquire an evening coat by Paul Poiret. Thanks to all who helped with the fundraising (and that included around $600 donated by The Vintage Traveler readers) the coat was added to the museum’s collection, and is now on display in their latest exhibition, Made in France.
I was lucky to be able to see and examine the coat as, believe it or not, this coat was found here in North Carolina!
The story begins last spring, when Jonathan and Kenn from the museum traveled south from Ontario to deliver their Lucile dress to a small exhibition at a local Titanic attraction. They then spent the afternoon with me, viewing my collection and talking fashion history. They mentioned that they had an appointment in Asheville to see a Poiret coat, which really floored me.
As it turned out, the coat was in the possession of Melinda and Jeff of Style and Salvage Vintage, whose business is located here in my little town of Clyde. I didn’t know them at the time, but Jonathan put us in touch, and I eagerly took up their invitation to go to their business and see the coat.
It is a simply stunning garment, beautiful in photographs that don’t fully show just how great an object it is. The gold bits are metallic lace, that wonderful substance that was so prized in the 1910s and 1920s. The exterior of the coat is gold silk, and the interior, which shows through the lace, is the most luscious shade of green.
So how did such a rare object come to be in Western North Carolina. I won’t give the details, but Melinda and Jeff were at a sale that advertised old clothes and costumes. Not known for being shy, Jeff asked the seller if there were other garments not currently in the sale. The answer was yes, there were more, and so arrangements were made to view the rest of the clothing.
While going through the racks, Melinda spotted the gold lace, held her breath, and pulled the coat out. She already knew it was special, but I would have loved to have seen her face at the moment she spotted that label!
The seller, who was working on behalf of an organization that actually owned the clothes, agreed to let Melinda and Jeff take the coat on consignment. They then set about searching for the perfect buyer for the coat.
That led them to contact Jonathan and Kenn,who after seeing the coat, put it on hold and began fund-raising. This February they again traveled south, and this time returned home with this very special garment. After a bit of restoration, the coat can now be enjoyed all all who are lucky enough to visit the Fashion History Museum this spring and summer.
It just goes to show that there are still marvelous things still hiding in attics and warehouses and who-knows-where else. My thanks to Melinda and Jeff for sharing this story, and for letting me use their photos.
7 responses to “Paul Poiret Coat, Circa 1912”
Congratulations to all who made this possible. I do wish I could follow the Fashion History Museum, but I’m not going to join Instagram to do it…. guess I’ll just bookmark the site and hope I remember to visit it. Great stuff!
They are on facebook, if that’s your thing!
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I visited the Fashion History Museum and also saw the Lucile exhibit they help with in Guelph, Ontario. It’s a fine little museum I just wish I were closer instead of half a continent away.
WOW!!! Noe we are talking! It never hurts to ask!
A wonderful story!
Great story! Is everyone heading up to their attic now? 🙂
Thank-you Lizzie, and thanks also to everyone who learned about the coat through Lizzie’s blog and very kindly donated to the cause of acquiring this stunning garment for our museum collection. We hope, of course, that everyone comes to see the coat and the other treasures we have on display in our current exhibition ‘Made in France’, but if not, you can follow us through facebook, instagram, or via our website: http://www.fashionhistorymuseum.com
Regards, Jonathan Walford on behalf of the Fashion History Museum
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