John Redfern/Redfern & Sons, Part 4

In the last post we covered Redfern’s work through the 1890s. Now, we’ll take a look at the early 20th Century. In 1892, Redfern’s sons took over the business, renaming it Redfern Ltd. While tailored women’s garments remained a mainstay of their business, they also branched out in more general fashions and transforming their Paris location into a full-on couture house (only the Paris location operated as a couture house, the other locations sold couture dresses brought in from Paris and did local tailoring).

Below is a continuation of Redfern’s tailored style:


Coat and skirt ensemble, Redfern, c. 1908; Victoria & Albert Museum (CIRC.646&A-1964). This outfit was made for Miss Heather Firbank (1888-1954).

2013GN8678_jpg_l 2013GN8679_jpg_lThe coat and skirt ensemble is from circa 1908 and consists of a coat and skirt made of navy blue wool serge trimmed in black soutache. The lines are clean and the black soutache adds a subtle decoration that harmonizes with the navy blue serge. Also, as with Redfern’s earlier work, one can see a military influence with the soutache patterns.


Here are some pictures of the skirt:

2013GN8673_jpg_l 2013GN8674_jpg_l 2013GN8675_jpg_lThe black soutache is also present on the skirt and the pattern is quite elaborate. It is difficult to completely appreciate from the dark lighting of the photos but it’s definitely there.

Here are some more examples of the coat and skirt ensemble:


Coat and Skirt Set, 1905


Coat and Skirt, Redfern, gray wool tweed, c. 1911; Victoria & Albert Museum (T.28&A-1960)


Below are some varied offerings from Redfern:

Redfern Afternoone Dress  1903

Afternoon Dress, 1903

Redfern_Robe de Ville 1904

Robe de Ville, 1904


Afternoon Dress, 1905


Tailored Coat and Skirt, 1905


Ball Gown, 1902


Dinner Dress, c. 1904

Finally, Redfern even made evening gowns and like many of the Couture Houses of Paris, they used actresses to market their designs. The evening dres pictured below was made for the actress Jane Hading in 1904, thereabouts:

Redfern_Jane Hading_1904

Evening Gown, Redfern, c. 1904; Bard Graduate Center Gallery (41.339.15)

While Redfern was producing a wide variety of designs by the Teens, the firm’s greatest strengths were with tailored garments and especially with his Coat and Skit sets (which we today would call “suits”). The tailoring is exquisite and the use of trim was, for the most part, understated. Redfern’s contributions to couture are largely unknown today (and not helped by a lack of documentation) and unappreciated.

When it comes to fashion of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the name Worth, and to a lesser extent Poiret tends to overshadow everyone else and it is our sincere hope that through this blog that we can bring some attention to many other deserving couturiers.

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