Monday, May 15, 2017

Gilbert Adrian, American Fashion Designer: 1947 Suit Jacket, Part 2


This black wool jacket by the California designer Gilbert Adrian represents a significant contribution to twentieth century fashion design. By all of its details, along with the silhouette, this design is a classic Adrian piece. The wide shoulders still reflect the Joan Crawford styling that Adrian would ‘invent’ for her movie characters in the early 1930's, long before Paris showed the wedge silhouette.

The style influence is military, with what might be considered military pockets set at up-beat angles. These quirky patch pockets and asymmetrical front closure also exhibit the kind of individuality in fashion design that separates an Adrian suit from others of its era.


Probably the most interesting aspect of the pattern design is how Adrian manipulated the front. He created a 'bowing'out center front line that shaped bust fullness when it was buttoned.

The heavy gold coin buttons are not set down the traditional center front line, rather their are set in the curve of the bustline. Additional fullness is created with a princess line panel inserted with what appears to be side front darts because the bottom seamline for this applied piece is hidden beneath the mock pocket flaps at the hips.

The sleeves have a seam line that appears to join a cuff with the sleeve body, although there is no functional reason for this seam. There are no plackets or buttons on the sleeves.

The lack of cuffs and the 24 inch center front length may be a hold-over from the days of government restrictions, but where patch pockets had once been forbidden due to the war, here they are in evidence.


The semi-circle back peplum skirt is set into the jacket back creating hip fullness only in the rear. This allows the front silhouette to appear very slender and snug. He applied a mock belt in the back with two buttons to add visual interest and visual relief from the solid black back silhouette.

Adrian was able to capture the spotlight with his innovations. Asymmetry and unusual draping appear in his suits and gowns, and were popular with his customers. His consistency in fashion design and his ability to work outside conventional Paris styles give his work a timeless quality that makes it difficult to date or place most styles in a time frame.

His attention to drape, silhouette and detail earned him a devoted class of customer who would remain with him until his early retirement in 1952.

This is the second post on a jacket from the designs of Gilbert Adrian.

Part 1 

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