#c432 $2,200Beaded velvet capelet attributed to Doucet, c.1898
Although the label was removed, the couture quality is obvious. A respected curator from a major museum attributed the piece to Jacques Doucet when it was exhibited over 15 years ago.
Doucet's entire professional life, as a couturier and as an art collector, was an embrace of the elegant and the beautiful. By 1900 the Houses of Doucet and Worth stood at the pinnacle of haute couture. The thrust of Doucet's work was different from that of Charles Worth, who emphasized the ceremonial occasion—couture for a Court appearance.
For Doucet, a garment had to be grand, luxe, and gala—theatrical, as we would say today. This made Doucet a favorite of celebrated French actresses like Cecile Sorel, Gabrielle Réjane, and Sarah Bernhardt, all of whom wore his creations to great effect on and off the stage. Doucet designed Bernhardt's famous white costume in L'Aiglon.
Made from black velvet and lined with black satin, the dazzling capelet is lavishly embellished with iridescent sequins and novelty paillettes. The design is accented with textured black beads, black pleated chiffon ruffles in front, black chiffon rosettes around the neckline, and black satin ribbon streamers that end in rosettes. The capelet closes in front with concealed hooks.
The condition is almost excellent. The structurally sound capelet has a few minor flaws: slight loss of beads on the fringe; and occasional spots of discoloration behind some of the beads. The pleated chiffon ruffles in front are totally intact but have curled under.
The Doucet theatrical style, reserved for his famous actress clients, consisted of frills, sinuous curving lines, and lace ruffles. The masterful decoration plus Doucet's signature ruffles support the Doucet attribution.
With the Doucet label, this magnificent piece would be $4,300 to $4,500. A purchaser who can document the Doucet provenance would be amply rewarded for the research effort.
The capelet is 43" long at the center-front, excluding the beaded fringe; and 16" long at the center-back.