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Clothing and Dress > Coats

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Coat made of zebra printed calfskin by Christian Dior, c.1970, 1965 - 1975

No image is publicly available for this object.

Because of the age of the Museum's collection some objects in the Museum's collection have not yet been digitised. Some images are not available for Copyright reasons. Some images are not available for cultural or privacy reasons.

Object statement
Coat, womens, zebra printed calfskin / black fur, Christian Dior, France, c.1970
This faux zebra skin coat designed and made in Paris by the House of Dior is a stylish example of fashionable dress from the late 1960s and early 1970s reflecting a new trend for fur coats to express individuality rather than simply wealth and status. It also dates from when furs became less common in couture and ready-to-wear lines.

The influence of the exotic is evident in the coat's bold zebra print. Use of exotic design content in fashion coincided broadly with cheaper air travel which became available after 1970..."As society became increasingly multicultural, designers also turned for inspiration to non-Western clothing concepts...cheap air travel brought exotic places, customs and dress within reach". (Valerie Mendes Amy de la Haye 20th Century Fashion London 1999, P.194)

By the time Dior died in 1957 the House of Dior produced perfume, furs, scarves, corsetry, knit ware, lingerie, costume jewellery and shoes. Furs in particular were produced by a separate division of the company named Christian Dior Fur established in Canada in 1951. Frederic Castet (a furrier) took over designing for the Dior Furs/Haute Furrure division in 1968. He worked under the supervision of Marc Bohan who was head designer and art director for Dior in Paris from 1960 -1989. The coat is labelled "Christian Dior/Paris". The following has been written about Castet's approach to designing with fur: "He likes to treat furs like fabrics, and thinks nothing of cutting up minks into a plaid pattern or combining four species of spotted furs in a patchwork coat. The Dior fur shows are now fashion events in their own right..." (Couture An illustrated History of the great Paris Designers and their creations. Edited by Ruth Lynam, New York, 1972, P.161). To the extent that the zebra coat is made from printed calf skin it can be interpreted as fitting in to this view of Castet's approach to designing with fur.

Fur in dress was traditionally used for warmth and in many cultures as an expression of social status and wealth. A new attitude to fur in western clothing developed after the 1950s however when designers became more experimental with fur usage. Dior for example made a statement by using mink to line coats rather than exposing them on the garment exterior. From the 1960s onward fur became less of a staple in women's wardrobes and due to rising labour costs was much less affordable. As a result, fur use was reduced to a "dash of fur" on a coat such as a fur collar or cuffs. The 'youth explosion' of the 1960s also affected fur designs where novelty in fur was sought after. 'Fun furs' had a less formal feel to them and inexpensive pelts were used however even this trend was short lived due to the rising cost of labour. At approximately the same time the anti-fur movement had an impact on the desirability of owning genuine fur garments.

In 1973 a ready to wear fur line was launched by Maison Dior using Castet's designs. The zebra printed coat is most likely to date from this line of 100 items and is significant primarily from an aesthetic viewpoint due to its stylish shape, colour and bold presence.

This garment is part of a collection of clothes owned and worn by Australian born Patti Edwards (c.1941 - c.2000) who lived in France for approximately twenty years.

The coat complements the current collection of Dior garments and fur garments such as a genuine leopard skin coat dating from 1968 made for Neiman Marcus.



Bibliography

Ewing, Elizabeth Fur in Dress published by BT Batsford Ltd, LONDON 1981

Prepared by Lyndel Wischer, volunteer in the decorative arts department.
This coat was designed by the Christian Dior Company.

Fur in dress was traditionally used for warmth and in many cultures as an expression of social status and wealth. A new attitude to fur in western clothing developed after the 1950s however when designers became more experimental with fur usage. From the 60s onward fur became less of a staple in women's wardrobes and due to rising labour costs was much less affordable. As a result, fur use was reduced to a "dash of fur" on a coat such as a fur collar or cuffs. The youth explosion of the 1960s also affected fur designs where novelty in fur was sought after. 'Fun furs' had a less formal feel to them and inexpensive pelts were used however even this trend was short lived due to the rising cost of labour.

Printed calfskin became an acceptable or alternate use of fur during the 1960s/1970s because the source of fur was a domestic animal that was not a protected specie.

In 1973 a ready to wear fur line was launched by Maison Dior using Castet's designs. The zebra printed coat is most likely to date from this line of 100 items.
This coat was owned and worn by Australian woman Patti Edwards. Patti Edwards was independently wealthy and lived in Paris for many years where she was able to pursue her interest in shopping and fashion. The coat was part of the Patti Edwards collection being sold through The Vintage Clothing Shop in Sydney.

 This text content licensed under CC BY-NC.

Description
Coat, womens, zebra printed calfskin / black fur, Christian Dior, France, c.1970

Knee length A-line women's coat in zebra printed calf skin. Large shawl collar and deep cuffs in black rabbit fur. Lined with black polyester damask. Centre front opening fastens with two metal press studs.
Worn by Patti Edwards.

Made: Christian Dior; Paris, France; 1965 - 1975


Used: Edwards, Patti; Paris, France; 1965 - 1975
Marks
White fabric label inside centre back neck 'Boutique/Christian Dior/London/Dior'.
2005/86/1
Production date
1965 - 1975
Width
420 mm

 This text content licensed under CC BY-SA.
Acquisition credit line
Donated through the Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program by Margie and Andrew Isles, 2005
Subjects
+ Haute couture
+ Animal rights
Short persistent URL
Concise link back to this object: http://from.ph/345984
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{{cite web |url=http://from.ph/345984 |title=Coat made of zebra printed calfskin by Christian Dior, c.1970 |author=Powerhouse Museum |accessdate=2 October 2014 |publisher=Powerhouse Museum, Australia}}


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