Ryerson Fashion Research Collection

Opening the closet door to a Canadian fashion archive


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Inside a Dolce & Gabbana Fur Coat

by Millie Yates

This Dolce & Gabbana fur coat from the Ryerson Fashion Research Collection (FRC2009.01.226 A+B) is a breath of fresh air amongst the functional but drab black coats often seen in the long Canadian winter.

Gray suede long wrap skirt and matching fur and floral painted leather jacket with tie belt. By Dolce and Gabbana. C. 1990-2000. FRC 2009.01.227/FRC 2009.01.226 A+B

Gray suede long wrap skirt with Dolce and Gabbana fur and floral painted leather jacket with tie belt. C. 1990-2008. FRC 2009.01.227/FRC 2009.01.226 A+B

The thick, luxurious fur used in this garment has beautiful gradations in colour, shifting from light to dark on the sleeve, to a deep gray on the front. The fur is long and lustrous, and incredibly smooth to the touch. In consultation with a furrier, the fur has been identified as long-haired rabbit. Rabbit fur is distinguishable by its flat, smooth look and medium-length guard hairs (note 1). It is also known as a good “imitator” because depending on how rabbit is treated, it can resemble other varieties of fur. Rabbit is naturally brown and white, though it is often dyed in processing. Interestingly, rabbit is commonly used as both lining and self, which means that this garment could be worn inside-out. Rabbit fur is not a particularly strong or hardwearing textile, and generally speaking it is more affordable than other kinds of fur. This makes it a somewhat unusual choice for a designer label like Dolce & Gabbana. Four large snaps close the garment, concealed on the inside and then concealed on the outside under the hair of the fur. The snaps run about midway down the jacket, and there is a small slit between the first row of buttons and the second. This slit allows the wearer to button only the bottom row of snaps, allowing the floral leather pattern to be visible when the collar is folded over.

Gray suede long wrap skirt and matching fur and floral painted leather jacket with tie belt. By Dolce and Gabbana. C. 1990-2000. FRC 2009.01.227/FRC 2009.01.226 A+B

Detail of rabbit fur jacket with tie belt. By Dolce and Gabbana. C.1990-2008. FRC 2009.01.227/FRC 2009.01.226 A+B

The hand-painted leather on the inside of the coat is what makes this garment truly remarkable. The painted floral pattern is based on a background of warm beige, and the colours that appear in the floral pattern are red, yellow, grass green, bright pink, black and gray. The flowers themselves are yellow and pink, while the stems are green. Soft, fluid brushstrokes of gray fill the areas without flowers. Though the paint used is not watercolour, the technique used to paint the garment seems to imitate the medium. The floral pattern in each coat would subtly differ, making this piece one-of-a-kind.

Gray suede long wrap skirt and matching fur and floral painted leather jacket with tie belt. By Dolce and Gabbana. C. 1990-2000. FRC 2009.01.227/FRC 2009.01.226 A+B

Hand painted jacket by Dolce and Gabbana. C.1990-2008, FRC 2009.01.226 A

There are belt loops on the inside of the garment, which seemed unusual at first. There is a belt that accompanies the garment, made of the same fur as the jacket and stitched onto an inner panel of the same painted leather as the garment. There are no belt loops on the exterior of the garment. This coat is in fact reversible. The wearer could choose the fur side as the right side of the garment, or turn it inside out to reveal the floral pattern, cinching the waist with the contrasting fur belt.

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The Enduring Fedora

By Millie Yates

The fedora hat was named after a character in the Sardou play in which it first appeared in 1882 (“Fedora”). How fitting that a hat designed for the stage should be re-interpreted by a theatrical millinery designer like Philip Treacy. Traditionally the fedora was a hat worn by men, but later in the 20th century the fedora was fashioned for women in brighter colours and with an upturned brim for an air of femininity (Peck, “The History of the Fedora”). The object I have chosen to study is a woman’s gray felted fedora by Philip Treacy (FRC 2009.01.402). The beauty of this hat lies in its inexplicable delicacy. A warm, woollen hat such as this (in an oversized shape, no less) should by definition appear bulky. Yet the talented Treacy has made such a hat look as light as air.

Gray fedora felted wool hat with two brown clipper feathers. By Phillip Treacy. C. Post 2000. FRC 2009.01.402

Gray fedora felted wool hat with two brown clipper feathers. By Phillip Treacy. FRC 2009.01.402, Gift of Kathleen Kubas.

The first thing to be noticed about this hat is its beautiful soft curves. The round, gently sloping brim is 4’’ (10.16 cm) deep around the hat, with a 1/4’’ (0.635 cm) of topstitching folded up and over the brim towards the sideband of the hat. Based on the appearance of the stitches, it was most likely done by machine. The brim bends upwards gradually towards the back and right side of the hat, peaking at 2 1/4’’ inches (5.715 cm) at the right back of the brim.

The sideband of the hat was blocked in a fedora-style, though the shape has been exaggerated in a number of ways. At its highest point, the sideband of the hat sits at 6’’ (15.24 cm). This peak is on the opposite side of the peak of the hat’s brim, creating a balance within the accessory. The sideband is slightly dented in a number of areas, most notably at left centre-front, right centre-front and left centre-back. These dents look intentional and there are no apparent signs that they were created by the wearer.

The crown of the hat is one of its most interesting attributes. Blocked on a teardrop-shaped hat block, the crown is built up 1 1/4’’ (3.175 cm) along the sides and then sharply dips into the teardrop shape.  All of Treacy’s blocks are handmade by Lorenzo Ré in Paris (Davies 126). The point of the teardrop points slightly off-centre, creating a pretty asymmetry that would frame the face of the wearer. Asymmetry is not uncommon in millinery, as angles that parallel those of the face tend to appear too harsh and geometric when worn (Dreher 12).

A beautiful blue-gray  band curves around where the brim meets the sideband at 3 1/2’’ wide (8.89 cm) for the majority of its length. This appears to be a dyed replica of a Cobra snakeskin. Like the crown of the hat, the band of skin is slightly off-centre. It narrows considerably towards the front left side, where the skin overlaps and is secured with a skin-covered button. The skin folds in three places where it narrows towards the left centre front of the hat, creating an interesting texture with the skin. Tucked between where the skin overlaps are two clipper feathers that lean on a low angle towards the left side of the hat. The feathers are mostly brown and white, and these two colours pick up on the lighter nap of the wool and the darker scales of the skin. At their widest point they are about 2 3/4’’ wide (6.985) but narrow dramatically to a fine point at their tips. The feathers extend approximately 8-9’’ (20.32-22.86 cm) from the hat. The feathers contribute significantly to the delicate air of the hat, giving it lightness and a touch of whimsy.

Gray fedora felted wool hat with two brown clipper feathers. By Phillip Treacy. C. Post 2000. FRC 2009.01.402

Detail of band on gray fedora felted wool hat with two brown clipper feathers by Phillip Treacy. FRC 2009.01.402

The wool of the hat has a long luxurious nap that has been brushed in a counter-clockwise direction. It is made from rabbit wool. The colour of the wool is a blue-gray. Its texture is soft and plush, and one could imagine that this would be a very warm hat. This hat was most likely intended for wear in a cooler climate or season. The felt is thick, and would be too hot for the summer.

The inside of the hat is lined with a blue silk satin with a gold piping at the crown. A stretchy Petersham ribbon circles the head size collar. Treacy’s logo is stamped where the lining touches the crown, and in a label at the centre-back of the hat. There is a content label that reads “100% Poils de Lapin” which is French for “100% rabbit hair”.

The hat is in very good condition. The only apparent damage is one small, circular dent on the right sideband just above the skin band. Felted hats may not be worn during humid or wet weather, because they are heat-set and moisture can cause the blocked shape to wilt. The edges and curves of the hat are still very sharp, and the feathers do not appear to be bent or distorted in any way.

A number of sensory reactions occurred to me when viewing and handling this hat. The first was my reaction to the texture. The softness of the hat is felt before even touching the hat’s plush surface. The thickness of the felt looks compressible, as though if it were squeezed it would bounce back. The juxtaposition of the soft rabbit hair next to the scaly, sleek snakeskin is eye-catching. It is interesting that Treacy has used entirely natural fiber and skins in his design: from the rabbit felt, to the ostrich feathers, to the snakeskin and even the silk lining.

Gray fedora felted wool hat with two brown clipper feathers. By Phillip Treacy. C. Post 2000. FRC 2009.01.402

Gray fedora felted wool hat with two brown clipper feathers. By Phillip Treacy. C.  FRC 2009.01.402

The balance of shapes and weight within the form of the hat is another hallmark of Treacy’s work. He always works in front of a mirror when creating his forms because to him, mirrors tell the absolute truth about a design. He has said: “If something is off, I need to be able to see it, and then I can spot millimetres from miles away…I believe in that millimetre” (Davies 38).

Drawing of Philip Treacy hat detail FRC 2009.01.402 by Millie Yates Drawing of Philip Treacy hat FRC 2009.01.402 by Millie Yates

Drawing of Philip Treacy hat detail by Millie Yates FRC 2009.01.402

This hat was worn by Kathleen Kubas who loved wearing hats and was known as ‘The Hat Lady’ in Toronto. After she passed away, her family donated over 300 hats to the Ryerson Fashion Research Collection. Her hat collection included other top millinery labels like Stephen Jones, Oscar de la Renta, Bentley Tomlin, and Eric Javits.

Light brown felted Breton trimmed with Mongolian sheep fur, resulting in a halo-like effect. By Oscar de la Renta. C. Post 2000. FRC 2009.01.703

Light brown felted Breton trimmed with Mongolian sheep fur, resulting in a halo-like effect. By Oscar de la Renta. ca. Post 2000 – 2008. FRC 2009.01.703, Gift of Kathleen Kubas.

 

Black Mad-hatter women's hat with silk flowers and fur-like feathers. By Philip Treacy. C. Post 2000. FRC 2009.01.512

Black Mad-hatter women’s hat with silk flowers and fur-like feathers. By Philip Treacy. ca. Post 2000-2008. FRC 2009.01.512. Gift of Kathleen Kubas

 

Black velvet beret. Black veil with chenille spotted and black rhinestone details. Veil is full face with two long trains. By Kokin New York. C. Post 2000. FRC 2009.01.488

Black velvet beret. Black veil with chenille spotted and black rhinestone details. Veil is full face with two long trains. By Kokin New York. ca. Post 2000. FRC 2009.01.488. Gift of Kathleen Kubas.

Her affinity for the fedora style of hat is evidenced by a number of other hats in this style made in different colours and materials like a pink satin fedora (FRC 2009.01.03) and a cheetah-print rabbit wool felt hat (FRC 2009.01.405), also by Treacy . The cheetah-print hat in particular bears a striking resemblance to the gray fedora. Its crown is blocked in a similar tear-drop shape, its sideband is circled by trim and its brim turns up towards the back of the hat. It even shares the same navy-blue lining! The pink satin fedora provides an interesting contrast. Made entirely of a hot-pint satin, this hat is smaller in size than the felt has but shares the upturned brim towards the back of the hat. Its brim is circled with topstitching every 3/16’’ (0.47625 cm). Its lining is equally as bold as its exterior, with a vibrant butterfly pattern in black, pink, orange, blue and green. The classic fedora is an enduring shape in Treacy’s work, fashioned differently from collection to collection. At one time, hats were an essential part of everyday dress. This change in fashion has meant that contemporary milliners like Philip Treacy can treat their designs as exciting challenges and opportunities for new innovations.

The majority of Philip Treacy’s designs today retail upwards of $1000, and his couture pieces often sell for much more. Treacy’s work is favoured by royalty and popular-culture royalty alike. He has designed for Grace Jones, Lady Gaga, Camilla Bowles and created 36 hats for the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate. Born in Ireland, Treacy studied at London’s Royal College of Art and graduated in 1990. His eye-catching designs quickly rose the young designer to fame. Though he is primarily known for his namesake line, Treacy also designs for many established couture houses in Europe, such as Chanel, Dior, Givenchy and Alexander McQueen. In the millinery world of today, Treacy’s name is ubiquitous.

Drawing of Philip Treacy hat FRC 2009.01.402 by Millie Yates

Drawing of Philip Treacy hat by Millie Yates FRC 2009.01.402

The colour palette of the hat is elegant and natural, but it is its design that is most intriguing. Treacy does not create ordinary hats; it is the sharp shaping, smooth curves and dramatic feathers in this particular design that command attention. It is this touch of originality imbued in even his most classic pieces that makes Treacy’s work so remarkable.

References

Davies, Kevin, and Philip Treacy. Philip Treacy by Kevin Davies. Berlin: Phaidon, 2013. Print.

Dreher, Denise. From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking. Minneapolis, MN: Madhatter, 1981. Print.

“Fedora.” The Berg Fashion Library. The Berg Fashion Library, n.d. Web. 4 Nov. 2015. <http://www.bergfashionlibrary.com/view/bdfh/bdfh-div13290.xml&gt;.

Hopkins, Susie. “Milliners.” The Berg Fashion Library. The Berg Fashion Library, 2005. Web. 4 Nov. 2015. <http://www.bergfashionlibrary.com/view/bazf/bazf00399.xml&gt;.

Peck, Jamie. “The History of the Fedora.” Broadly RSS. N.p., 01 Aug. 2015. Web. 04 Nov. 2015.

Phillips, Tom. Women & Hats: Vintage People on Photo Postcards. Oxford: U of Oxford, 2010. Print.

Philip Treacy Website. http://www.philiptreacy.co.uk/

Philip Treacy Millinery. Perf. Philip Treacy. Victoria and Albert Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/videos/p/video-philip-treacy-millinery&gt;.


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In this weather, it is all about the coat!

by Ingrid Mida, Collection Co-ordinator

Given that we seem to be stuck with a never-ending winter in Toronto, I decided that it was an ideal time to feature a selection of the contemporary coats from the Designer Archive of the Ryerson Fashion Research Collection. In Canada, where outerwear is an essential part of coping with the winter, coats make a first impression. There are coat people – those of us who have a different coat for every type of weather – and Kathleen Kubas, who donated the coats shown below, was one of them.

One of my favourite coats in the FRC Designer Archive is this avant-garde coat by Issey Miyake. This coat is made of a combination of brown, black and cream felted wool and is lined in quilted polyester satin. It closes at the shoulder with a toggle button. The textile that makes up this coat is what sets it apart and really deserves a closer look.

Issey Miyake coat, felted wool with silk lining, ca. 2000, FRC2009.01.680.

Issey Miyake coat, felted wool with silk lining, ca. 2000, FRC2009.01.680.

This Jean Paul Gaultier wool blanket coat shown below has no closures other than a tie belt at the waist. The luxury of this coat is not evident to anyone other than the wearer, because the lining for the body of the coat is silk satin printed with Jean Paul Gaultier’s signature. The sleeves are lined in striped cream satin. The label is Jean Paul Gaultier Classique Paris. This style of coat was one of Kathleen Kubas favourite styles. Easy to wear over anything including layers of bulky sweaters, this style of coat wraps the wearer in warmth and comfort.

Jean Paul Gaultier blanket coat, wool with silk satin lining, ca.2005-2008, FRC2009.01.363 A+B

Jean Paul Gaultier blanket coat, wool with silk satin lining, ca.2005-2008, FRC2009.01.363 A+B

Quite a different style of coat is the fitted coat shown below. Its slim fit and narrow armholes would limit what it could be comfortably worn over, but on its own it is a statement. I dare say that the bright fuchsia pink colour would blow the winter blues away in a heartbeat. This wool coat by Gucci opens to reveal a luxurious leopard print lining.

Fuchsia pink wool coat with leopard silk lining, snap closures, GUCCI, FRC2009.01.667

Fuchsia pink wool coat with leopard silk lining, snap closures, GUCCI, FRC2009.01.667

Another lovely coat by Gucci is this cream wool coat with a red fox fur collar shown below. This fitted coat has added warmth with its fur collar.

Cream wool coat with red fur fox collar. Label GUCCI, FRC2009.01.374

Cream wool coat with red fur fox collar. Label GUCCI, FRC2009.01.374

Versatile in its shape, the cashmere cape shown below is a piece that could be worn over another coat for a day of extreme cold or on its own in less frigid temps. This luxurious cape shown below is made of black cashmere and is trimmed with chinchilla fur.

Black cashmere cape trimmed with chinchilla fur, Label Holt Renfrew. FRC2009.01.214

Black cashmere cape trimmed with chinchilla fur, Label Holt Renfrew. FRC2009.01.214

All of the featured coats were donated to the collection by the family of the late Kathleen Kubas. The collection also has other coats including coats by Dior, Givenchy, Louis Feraud, Karl Lagerfeld, Valentina  and other designers.


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Ensemble by Chloé

by Jazmin Welch

FRC_2pcEnsembles_2009.01.676_A+B_F34_Web

This two-piece ensemble made by the French designer label Chloé consists of an A-line panel skirt and a long sleeved box cut jacket with black velvet banded collar and embellished back panel (FRC2009.01.676 A+B). The primary fabric used to construct this garment is 100% wool in a slightly grayed tone of navy blue. The jacket has a flat square-like panel overlay that attaches to the shoulder seam and hangs off of the back of the garment. The hem, sides and over-panel of the jacket as well as the sleeves are embellished with a 1 1/2” border of 2 mm. cylindrical,silver beads in a geometric pattern.

FRC_2pcEnsembles_2009.01.676_A+B_Det_6_Web

There is a bright red silk lining in the jacket, used only in areas with embellishment. The dolman sleeves are 14” in circumference at the wrist. There is a velvet mandarin collar in a deep blue-black. The jacket has an asymmetrical closure with two 1/2” wide iridescent blue buttons that are placed about 2 1/4” left of the centre line; one is fastened with a loop of navy thread at the neckline and the other is fastened using a standard buttonhole. The skirt is constructed with three panels on the front and back, and a polyester lining. The closure is aligned with the asymmetrical closure of the jacket. There is a metal zipper and two hook and eye closures along the waistband.

FRC_2pcEnsembles_2009.01.676_A+B_Det_9_Web

The labels on both the skirt and jacket indicate that the garment was made in France, and the designer is Chloé, but it was purchased at Holt Renfrew Boutique (a Canadian retailer). Care label instructions indicate that the garment needs to be dry cleaned, ironed on medium, and that no bleach should be used. The thread button loop at the neckline has been stretched out, showing signs of wear. The skirt’s waistband had been let out by 1 1/4” using a piece of navy ultra-suede with uneven stitching in a slightly different colour.

FRC_2pcEnsembles_2009.01.676_A+B_LBL_2_Web

This jacket feels quite heavy because of the extra panel and embroidery. This sense of weight is reminiscent of the robes of royalty, especially with the panel that falls from the back of the jacket. The fine and fairly thin nature of the wool suggests that it would have been worn in the cooler temperatures of spring or early fall in Toronto (where the owner lived). The wool is soft to the touch despite its very textured surface and is not itchy. This contrasts with the cold feeling of the metallic beads. My emotional response to this item is one of awe. The inside is almost as beautifully finished as the outside. The silk lining that peaks out from the panel on the jacket provides a unique pop of colour and adds to the overall complexity of the piece. The silhouette is interesting and all the details combined create an overall depiction of a work of art.

The ensemble is one of many in the Ryerson Fashion Research Collection that once belonged to Kathleen Kubas. This garment in pristine condition, like all of her donated clothing. The signs of alteration indicate that the artifact was likely a well-loved item that Kubas wanted to keep in her wardrobe, even after it no longer fit as well. According to Collection Co-ordinator Ingrid Mida, few of her items show signs of wear, so this alteration might indicate that this piece was one of her favourites. The beading is delicate and could easily be torn off. The jacket is not for warmth since the wool is fine and the front is open, yet the over-panel is too bulky to be layered under a coat. Perhaps Kubas wore this ensemble under one of her many capes or wraps.

FRC_2pcEnsembles_2009.01.676_A+B_B34_Web

The designer label Chloé is known for ultra-feminine pieces. Founded in 1952 by Gaby Aghion, the house has had various designers at the helm. Karl Lagerfeld became the head designer in 1966 and under his direction the label personified the romantic looks of the 1970s. In 1997, Stella McCartney became the designer and introduced more tailored and structured pieces. The exact date of origin for this piece is unclear. It was likely produced in the mid-1990s when this type of embellishment and strong shoulder line was popular.

Jazmin Welch is a fourth year Fashion Communication student at Ryerson University. She is currently working in the Fashion Research Collection as an assistant to Ingrid Mida.

Edited by Ingrid Mida, FRC Collection Co-ordinator


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The Kathleen Kubas Collection

By Ingrid Mida, Collection Co-ordinator.

Black sinamay cartwheel hat with asymmetrical brim with draped black mesh.  Miss Jones by Stephen Jones FRC2009.01.608

Black sinamay cartwheel hat with asymmetrical brim with draped black mesh.
Miss Jones by Stephen Jones
FRC2009.01.608

In 2009, the School of Fashion received its largest single donation of over 700 garments and accessories for the Ryerson Fashion Research Collection from the family of Kathleen Kubas., after she had passed away in 2008 at the age of 70. Kathleen Kubas was a former model and actress before she became a grade 1 schoolteacher. She loved fashion, and was known in Toronto as the “Hat Lady”.  Kathleen had an extraordinary millinery collection, including many from milliners Phillip Treacy, Stephen Jones and Eric Javits. Her friends said her “hats reflected her personality — extravagent, yet elegant and fashionable” (note 1).

Beige sinamay pciture hat with layered and draped raffia and scattered black sequins. Linda Campisano Millinery Chicago. FRC2009.01.694

Beige sinamay picture hat with layered and draped raffia and scattered black sequins.
Linda Campisano Millinery Chicago.
FRC2009.01.694

This donation from the Kubas family added an infusion of contemporary designer labels from about 1985 – 2005 into the Fashion Research Collection, including garments by Gucci, Kenzo, Issey Miyake, Missoni, Jean Muir, and many others. Her wardrobe shows an affinity for bold fashion-forward pieces as well as textures like knits and furs. The colours of her wardrobe are vibrant, dominated by bright colours like pinks and purples but also balanced by neutral pieces in gray, black and white. She clearly knew what she liked and what looked good on her tall, slender frame.

Garments and accessories from the Kathleen Kubas donation were photographed for this project included:

Dyed Feather Boa with black satin ribbon tie FRC2009.01.439

Dyed Feather Boa with black satin ribbon tie
FRC2009.01.439

Wool coat with leopard silk lining, DOLCE & GABBANA, FRC2009.01.667

Wool coat with leopard silk lining, DOLCE & GABBANA,
FRC2009.01.667

Burgundy textured knit jersey pullover dress with matching overcoat. Missoni Creeds Toronto

Burgundy textured knit jersey pullover dress with matching overcoat.
MISSONI Creeds Toronto, FRC2009.01.684

FRC_EveDresses_2009.01.395_FRT_Web

Black jersey dress with extended shoulders, keyhole neckline at back. JEAN MUIR
FRC2009.01.395

Brown, black and cream felted wool blanket  coat, lined in quilted polyester satin, single  button closure on left shoulder. Issey Miyake FRC2009.01.680

Brown, black and cream felted wool blanket
coat, lined in quilted polyester satin, single
button closure on left shoulder.
ISSEY MIYAKE
FRC2009.01.680

Cream wool coat with red fox fur collar. GUCCI FRC2009.01.374

Cream wool coat with red fox fur collar. GUCCI
FRC2009.01.374

The high caliber of the labels in the Kathleen Kubas Collection and the near perfect condition of the pieces gives significant weight and importance to this part of the Fashion Research Collection at Ryerson University.

Note 1: In the undated pamphlet for the celebration of life ceremony in honour of Kathleen Kubas, she is described this way.

This project has been sponsored by a grant from the Learning & Teaching Office at Ryerson University.