Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lilli Ann: 1950's Swing Coat

In vintage fashion, a Lilli Ann label brings to mind the San Francisco design house that specialized in drama and fashion flash. It is noted for wonderful wool coats and suits produced following WWII. Although the company history spans several decades, the late 1940's through mid-1960's era are probably the most popular eras for Lilli Ann collectors. I wanted to share one of my Lilli Ann study garments with you. It dates from the early to mid-1950's.
Probably the first thing you will notice is the sheer weight of this black wool coat. It is really heavy, in part due to the thick, lush fur blend wool that was produced in post war France for Lilli Ann. The shiny fur guard hairs produce a glimmer that is unmistakable. The silhouette for this coat is a wide 'swing' or 'A Line' cut. Its wide hem is very full, enhanced by pleats in front that fall from the neckline.

Appliqued on the wool are black velvet stripes that widen towards the hem. These chevron down the center back seam line, creating a pointed optical illusion at the hem. The stripes are wound around the coat, starting in the upper front and ending in a chevron point at back.
To compliment this 'A line' shape, the sleeves have width at the elbow and gather into narrow wrists. These are accented by deep turned back cuffs. An equally wide pilgrim collar can button to the chest.
When looking to date this coat, I found several Lilli Ann coats of the same textile. Often these have a 'fit and flare' princess seamed silhouette. These two types of coats seem to form the main silhouette selection at Lilli Ann during the early 1950's. Wide collars were popular, and are almost always part of the look. This picture group shows a Lilli Ann coat and others typical of the era.
The drafts of this coat are drawn to scale and show the coat in detail with its very wide skirt. The front pleats are also apparent in the draft, along with the placement of the velvet appliques.

I hope this great coat can be an inspiration to you. Many elements are very easily reproduced. Especially trying the chevron applique could make a 'ho hum' coat simply fabulous!
And if you collect vintage, keep your eye out. You never know where a Lilli Ann coat will be hiding!

More articles on Lilli Ann:

1940's suits

1950's and 60's suits

1950's Jackets

1980's Jacket