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