vintage clothing at

#2372 $1,450

Bead knitted jacket, late 1890s

This graceful bead knitted jacket was probably lined when new. Without a lining, the style transcends the confines of late Victorian respectability to stand on its own as an example of creative textile design.

I photographed the jacket on a modern mannequin rather than in a period-correct Victorian pose in order to focus attention on the textile. While densely beaded knit purses from the late 19th century have survived, one rarely finds an entire garment produced in this manner. I am pleased to present to my valued clients two superb examples of textile art from the late 19th century. See also the bead knitted mantle.

The jacket is fashioned from brown silk yarn knitted with an open lacy pattern like macramé. The pattern is called knot-stitch mesh. The jet black, faceted beads are incorporated into the cloth during the knitting. The jacket closes in front with corset-style lacing, which begins at the neckline.

The wearer can decide how much of the front is closed with the lacing. You can even make a daring choice in the year 2011 without worrying what Queen Victoria would have thought. As designer Adrienne Landau put it, "I'd rather be looked at than overlooked."

The straight collar, which now folds over flat, may have been wired to stand up. The hem, sleeve cuffs, and back vent opening are trimmed with appliqués of jet black beads.

When you wear this exquisite jacket to a museum exhibit, do not be surprised if a curator comes up to you to ask admiringly, "Is it a Laferrière or a Felix or perhaps a Morin-Blossier?" Just smile enigmatically!

The modern, figure hugging style of our Victorian jacket illustrates the poet Baudelaire's dictum that fashion is the single most striking sign of modernity. The elegant woman will "extract from fashion the element of poetry within history to distill the eternal from the transitory."

The condition is excellent.

It measures: 36" bust, 32" waist, 42" hip, 16" from shoulder seam to shoulder seam, 23" sleeve length, and 27" from shoulder to front hem.

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