Emile Pingat is a bit of an enigma. Although he was recognized along with Worth and Doucet as one of the foremost designers, almost nothing is known about the man (at least in English). Pingat was active between about 1860 when his name first appears an a Parisian trade directory to 1896 when he sold his business. During this time, Pingat was well regarded and his name often appeared in the fashion press and was cited as one of the three foremost couturiers in Paris. Hopefully, more information in regard to Pingat, his life, and his work will be unearthed that will shed more light on this enigmatic designer.
In a previous post, we discussed the designs of Emile Pingat and noted that while he created wide variety of styles, he was especially noted for his outerwear. As with all fashions, specific items can be functional, decorative, or somewhere in between. In Pingat’s case, his designs leaned towards the more decorative and they were meant to add to an outfit’s dramatic impact, as well as provide some protection from the elements, and especially open one’s making an entrance at a public affair.
Although Pingat was active from roughly 1860 through 1896, his most distinctive designs were created during from the mid-1870s through early 1890s. For outerwear, he was noted for being carefully designed and constructed. For our survey, we start with an opera cape made in c. 1882:
Opera Cape, Emile Pingat, c. 1882; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.60.42.13)
This opera cape is constructed from a white/ivory silk satin embroidered in a gold and silver floral design and trimmed in fur. This cape was definitely a fashion accessory rather than a functional garment and the light color would certainly have offset the relatively dim gaslight found in public places such as an opera house.
Form something a bit less formal is this “afternoon jacket” from c. 1885 – 1890:
This jacket is constructed from a combination of a blue/black-colored silk velvet for the sleeves and a plum-colored silk faille or bengaline for the body; interestingly enough, it appears that the fabric might have been cut on the bias. The lower sleeves and body are also decorated with grey-colored leaf appliques and the jacket front and bottom is trimmed with hanging beads. Finally, a grey and gold trim runs along both sides of the jacket front and back. Overall, this is an elegant but understated jacket.
Most capes of the 1880s were designed to cover the upper body and were cut so as to allow for the bustle but below is one that is full length and sleeveless:
The outer cape is made from a royal blue-colored silk velvet trimmed with fur. The lining is quilted and made from what appears to be a blue and magenta/red silk faille. The large scale plaid pattern of the lining seems to be incongruous when viewed against the bright royal blue velvet- one wold expect something a bit more muted. As with the afternoon jacket above, the primary decoration are elaborate floral lace appliques in gray and trimmed with beadwork. The gray fur trim and appliques act as a contrast to the bright, jewel-tone royal blue velvet.
Moving into the 1890s, we see a design scheme similar to the above afternoon jacket in this evening jacket made in 1893:
The above jacket is made of two parts arranged to give the appearance of two garments being worn. The underpart is an composed of multi-colored/metallic embroidery, beading, and piping arranged in a Persian inspired design. The center front and the cuffs are trimmed in gray feathers. The overpart is constructed of black velvet and the silhouette is reminiscent of renaissance era schaube coat.
The above are only some samples of Pingat’s work but they do give a pretty good idea of the styles that were out there during the 1880s and on into the early 1890s. Outerwear is one element that is often overlooked by those recreating historical fashions but hopefully the above examples will service as a source of inspiration.