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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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 Muff

By Ingrid Mida, Collection Co-ordinator

The muff – a roll of fabric or fur, lined in wool, satin, silk, linen or other fabric – typically used to keep one’s hands warm is considered a feminine accessory. However, at one time the muff was used by both men and women.

FRC_Fur&Fea_1992.05.003_FRT_Web

FRC1992.05.003

One of the earliest muffs recorded was illustrated in the 16th century drawing by Gaspar Rutz from 1598 showing an English lady with a cloth muff hanging from her girdle (Morse Earle 1901: 448).

Fashionable men in the 17th century carried muffs as a mark of dignity. The wardrobe inventory of Prince Henry of England (1594-1612) in 1608 included: “Two muffes; one of cloth of silver embroidered with purles plates and Venice twists of silver and gold; the other of black satten embroidered with black silk and bugles” (Morse Earle 1901: 448).

A muff with a pocket could be used to contain or conceal objects and it was reported that in the 18th century the somewhat eccentric head of a college at Oxford University carried  in his muff a pair of scissors with which he slyly clipped off the locks deemed “too long” of male students (Morse Earle 1901: 450). It is not clear when muffs became a strictly feminine accessory, but it seems likely that this followed the changes in men’s attire in the early part of the 19th century.

Now the muff is considered a strictly feminine accessory, and in the 19th century, muffs sometimes served as a type of handbag  for carrying daily necessities such as a handkerchief or a bit of money. Sometimes muffs were worn suspended from the neck by a rich cord finished with tassels.

The Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine of December 1865 describes the fashions for muffs at the time as follows:

We are happy to announce to the ladies a decided novelty in muffs. They are, however, the prettiest and most ravissante [sic] little affairs we have ever seen, and we commend them to the notice of the ladies. They are to be had in ermine tipped with swan’s-down, seal-skin edged with sable and finished with a sable hood, mink richly trimmed, and grebe. As some of our readers may not be familiar with the grebe, we will state that it is the skin of a Russian duck, which is made up as fur into muffs, victorianes [sic], and collars.”  (page 549).

Lady with muff001

FRC2002.04.209
Cabinet card with deckled edge by A.S. Green, 361 Talbot Street, St. Thomas, Ontario.

In this historic photo from 1885-1890 (FRC2002.04.209), a cabinet card of a woman with her daughter by photographer A.S. Green of St. Thomas, Ontario,  both are dressed for winter, even though the photo was obviously taken inside the studio. The woman holds what looks to be a mink muff in her hand. Carrying visible signs of wealth, such as a muff or fur scarf, was a way to signify class.

The Ryerson Fashion Research Collection has two muffs, one dates to approximately 1880-1890 and the other is a contemporary muff.

FRC_Fur&Fea_1992.05.003_F34_Web

FRC1992.05.003

The older muff is made of black sheered velvet and has ruched brown silk sides (FRC1992.05.003). Stuffed with horsehair and lined with wool, it is dated to approximately 1880-1890. It does not have a pocket. The absence of a cord, tassels or other embellishment suggests that it likely did not belong to a rich woman.

FRC_Fur&Fea_2009.01.531_F34_Web

FRC2009.01.531

This contemporary version of a muff (FRC2009.01.531) is brown sable and is lined in black satin with an interior corded loop and zipper. It has no label and is dated to post-1990. It was donated by Kathleen Kubas in 2009 and is one of many fur accessories that she owned.

This project was funded by a grant by the Learning and Teaching Office at Ryerson University.

References:

Fashions. Notice to Lady Subscribers. Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine. Philadelphia, December 1865 (p.485-650)..

Morse Earle, Alice.) 1901. Two Centuries of Costume in America, Volume II. New York: The MacMillan Company.


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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.