Going Out- Opera Capes

Going to the opera, or any formal occasion, required the right outerwear and especially in colder weather. Outerwear during the late 19th Century could range from short capelets all the day to full-on coats and naturally, each couturier had ideas on outerwear styles. Here’s just one style, in this case a circa 1890 opera case that was made by Jacques Doucet:

Doucet, Opera Cape, c. 1890; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1995.177.2)

This cape is constructed from a gold silk floral patterned brocade and trimmed along the collar and shoulders with fur. The capelet and lining appear to be be a yellow/gold silk, probably a satin but it’s hard to tell from the picture- unfortunately, there are no further details on the construction or materials used.

Now, although couturiers often convinced their clients that garments were custom designs made just for them, this wasn’t always the case as with this second opera cape that was also made by Doucet about the same time:

Doucet, Opera Case, c. 1900s; Whitaker Auctions

Unfortunately, no other photos are available but it’s safe to say that it appears to have been constructed of a copper and black silk brocade with a floral paisley-like pattern motif. The collar and shoulders are also trimmed in fur and the top capelet is in a gray/lavender silk satin- it’s probably the same as the lining if the first example is any guide. The above two capes are an interesting style and definitely worthy of reconstruction. 🙂



And For A Little Pingat…

This is probably one of the most extraordinary things that’s occurred since we started this blog back in 2013 and it’s all because of a post we did on Emile Pingat, a Parisian couturier who operated at about the same time as Charles Worth.


We have been blessed by an early portrait of Emile Pingat that was kindly sent to us by one of our readers, M. Jacques Noel, who is a descendant of M. Pingat. M. Noel gave us permission to post the picture here and we are very grateful, anything pertaining to one of the foremost couturiers during the late 19th Century.

Emile Pingat

An early portrait of Emile Pingat; Courtesy of Jacques Noel, jacnoel21@gmail.com

Pingat was famous for the sheer luxury of his designs, utilizing the best fabrics to create styles that, in our opinion, surpass those of Worth. Although we have discussed M. Pingat in prior posts, here’s just a sample of his work:

From day dresses…

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Reception Dress, Emile Pingat, c. 1885; Shelburne Museum (2010-75)

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Emile Pingat, Dinner Dress, c. 1883 – 1885; Smith College Historic Clothing Collection (1989.1.3ab)

To outerwear…

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Pingat, Evening Jacket, 1893; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.139)

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Opera Cape, Emile Pingat, c. 1882; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.60.42.13)

To something more formal…

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The above is just a small sampling of Pingat’s work and we salute him.  🙂



1898 Opera Cape

A because we’ve been focusing on 1890s capes recently…here’s a picture from 1898:

Woman Wearing Opera Cape, 1898; Powerhouse Museum (P3576-22), Sydney, Australia.

This picture is interesting in that the woman is wearing what appears to be either a waist or a light bodice. Also, the skirt appears to be of a watered silk moire fabric. One advantage of the 1890s short capes was that they simply draped over the shoulders, thus no interference from the sleeve heads which could be quite large during the Mid-1890s.