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Opera coat

Opera coat

  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1912 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Paul Poiret, born 1879 - died 1944 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ribbed silk, trimmed with a silver-gilt fringe of sprung coils, revers faced with figured silk

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Lady Gladwyn

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Paul Poiret was famous for his use of opulent colour. You can see it displayed to the full in this emerald green, purple and gold opera cloak. His brilliantly coloured, looser clothes were often inspired by the then popular 'oriental' fashions and traditions. The main part of this ankle-length garment is cut from a single piece of finely ribbed silk. It is turned back at the centre front to create deep revers. The hem dips steeply down to side points. It is weighted by an extremely heavy, deep gilt fringe of metallic sprung coils, as used in military dress uniforms.

Paul Poiret was born in Paris in 1879. He opened his own salon after serving an apprenticeship for Douçet and working for Charles Frederick Worth. Poiret was one of the most creative fashion designers of the 20th century. He also revived fashion illustration, founded a school for the decorative arts and even diversified into perfume. He led the artistic fashion movement away from the curvilinear silhouette of the early 1900s towards a longer, leaner line.

Lady Gladwyn wore this cloak, which forms part of the V&A's Cecil Beaton Collection. Sir Cecil Beaton was a society photographer. With great energy and determination Beaton contacted the well-dressed élite of Europe and North America to help create this monument to the art of dress. The Collection was exhibited in 1971, accompanied by a catalogue that detailed its enormous range.

Physical description

Square-cut emerald green silk coat, low waisted with gilt braid clasp, and heavy gold fringe around bottom. It has hong sleeves in cloth-of-gold.

Place of Origin

France (made)


ca. 1912 (designed)


Paul Poiret, born 1879 - died 1944 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Ribbed silk, trimmed with a silver-gilt fringe of sprung coils, revers faced with figured silk


Height: 1700 mm, Width: 650 mm, Depth: 600 mm, Circumference: 56.6 cm circumference of hat, Length: 55 cm length of hat from base to point but it was not worn stiffly pointed, Width: 10.6 cm width of blanck and white brim of hat

Descriptive line

Opera cloak of ribbed and figure silk, designed by Poiret, France, ca. 1912.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

no. 196
Fashion : An Anthology by Cecil Beaton. London : H.M.S.O., 1971


Silk (textile); Gold braid; Fringe; Lamé


Fashion; Evening wear; Women's clothes; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type

Haute couture


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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