#2767 $3,200 SoldRedfern natural silk cape, c.1901
John Redfern began as a men's tailor in 1855. With an unerring fashion flair, in 1871 he moved into the design and sale of silk dresses, which became all the rage among the "jet set" of the time. In fashion history, the House of Redfern is celebrated for its impeccably tailored women's garments.
Sturdy and wearable, our utilitarian cape, meant to keep out the elements, has the solid construction of a gentleman's garment. The choice of a menswear plaid lining and black leather trim was an ingenious touch. The romantic, full-gathered hood could be right out of a Gothic novel like Jane Eyre. I can see her walking on the desolate moor in this dramatic cape.
The Gothic romance is often set in a haunted castle, suffused in a fog of frightening omens and portents that point to mysterious or supernatural events. The lonely, pensive heroine—abandoned and alone—must face a powerful, impulsive, tyrannical male in this oppressive atmosphere of impending doom. Even if this is not your life, our cape will make you the center of attention!
Made from beige natural silk and partly lined with black/beige windowpane plaid, the cape is an exemplar of the Redfern style. Outlined with black cord, the dramatic cutwork pattern on the black leather trim is like the arcane insignia of the fashion elite.
I love the long corded tassels at the center-back. The armhole slits and center-front close with snaps. The fullness of the hood can be adjusted with a cord drawstring. The front opening has decorative braided buttons and loops.
Redfern was the first to offer stylish women's clothing for riding, tennis, and archery. Although meant for sports, these garments were quickly adopted for everyday wear, making Redfern the first "sportswear designer." I consider myself lucky whenever I can find a Redfern classic in top condition.
In 1888 Redfern became Dressmaker By Royal Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen. He popularized the high-waisted Grecian style of 1908. Into the early 1910s, Redfern's designs were often illustrated in La Gazette du Bon Ton along with the work of leading Paris designers Doucet, Paquin, Poiret, and Worth.
A Redfern black silk evening cape with similar trim can be seen in the Costume Institute's collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The condition is almost excellent. Near the hem is a tiny hole, barely visible because it is backed with hem facing.
One size fits all. The length is 52" at the center-front.