Silk velvet evening coat, by Mariano Fortuny, c. 1920. The aqua velvet is covered with a floral stenciled design in metallic gold. The simple garment construction is rectangular, allowing for full appreciation of the fabric. A notch is cut in the back neckline and the arm openings, on the side seams, have a printed border design around them. This border repeats on the front and back centers, with the front open. The coat is fully lined with gold silk. Fortuny used this construction frequently in jackets and coats of varying length. His well-known label is sewn in the center back neckline.

Fortuny used primarily natural dyes, applying them with unique techniques and overlays. For metallic designs he often used bronze, copper and aluminum powder. His patterns were applied with woodblocks, silkscreens and stencils as well as large stamping dyes. The ageless beauty of this garment is evident in both the beautifully designed motifs and the uncomplicated construction.

This evening coat belonged to Gertrude Sanford Legendre, born in Aiken, SC in 1902. Growing up as a wealthy socialite, she and her family traveled all over the world. After the Sanford-Legendre Abyssinia Expedition for American Museum of Natural History c. 1928, she married co-explorer and big game hunter, Sidney Legendre in 1929. They purchased Medway Plantation on the Cooper River and enjoyed life in the Lowcountry in between other adventures. She died in 2000; Medway has recently been sold to a Greek millionaire. Some of her clothing and textiles, including this coat, were very recently donated to The Charleston Museum by her daughter, Bokara Legendre. This coat joins other Fortuny garments in the collection – two Delphos gowns and two velvet evening coats.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

Black satin purse, almost entirely covered with silk embroidery, Oriental, early 20th century. Probably made from a panel made for the export market, this beautifully designed embroidery has motifs typical of Chinese workmanship. The ivory Netsuke (man, monkey and ball) clasp is probably from Japan. The bag is lined with changeable silk (pink/gray), has two gathered pockets inside and also contained a gold leather wallet when it was given to the Museum. The 1917 penny found inside also helps date it. This lovely accessory was given to the Museum in 1979 by Gertrude Sanford Legendre (1902-2000); she or her mother may have owned it. Click here to learn a little bit more about Mrs. Legendre.HT 5771TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

Black satin purse, almost entirely covered with silk embroidery, Oriental, early 20th century. Probably made from a panel made for the export market, this beautifully designed embroidery has motifs typical of Chinese workmanship. The ivory Netsuke (man, monkey and ball) clasp is probably from Japan. The bag is lined with changeable silk (pink/gray), has two gathered pockets inside and also contained a gold leather wallet when it was given to the Museum. The 1917 penny found inside also helps date it. This lovely accessory was given to the Museum in 1979 by Gertrude Sanford Legendre (1902-2000); she or her mother may have owned it. Click here to learn a little bit more about Mrs. Legendre.

HT 5771

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

Black and white silk parasol with wooden handle and ferule and ivory rib tips, c. 1924, owned by Gertrude Sanford Legendre (1902-2000). In 1924, the long, thin umbrellas and parasols of the previous decades were replaced by short stubby models. The new parasol had a thick handle, rib tips, and stub end (ferule) of wood, ebony, ivory, horn, Bakelite or celluloid. The shape and size of this parasol, along with the materials and its Art Deco-feeling design motifs place it clearly in 1920s fashion.

The acceptance of the sun tan for fashionable women was the death knell for the parasol. However, they were still used for sun protection at garden parties, seaside visits and as late as 1936, parasols in ivory and black were still being designed for Ascot.

Gertrude Legendre (see her on her book cover w/in this posting) was married in 1929. Born in Aiken, SC, she came from the wealthy and socialite Sanford family and traveled around the world with her husband, even on African safaris. It is said that Gertrude was the inspiration for Philip Barry’s 1929 play Holiday and the 1938 film with Katharine Hepburn & Cary Grant. For more information about the fascinating life of Gertrude Legendre (a spy with OSS, big game hunter, etc), see her New York Times obituary and this Forbes magazine posting about her Charleston home, Medway Plantation.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday