Tuesday, 30 June 2015

A Little Stunner

Some of my pieces are really special, and I thought I'd share this one with you.

When I found this, the shop ladies thought it was a marching girl's jacket from the 1950s. How interesting, I thought, and promptly took it to show my Vintage Fashion Consultant (aka, mother). Mum was a marching girl back in the 1950s and she said no, it wasn't. She was quite definite about that. After looking at pictures of marching costumes on the internet, I could see that she was right. She said it certainly wasn't a costume because of the quality in the making of the garment. Both the cuffs and collar of this jacket are elaborately quilted. The pockets are real pockets. The pockets and cuffs are appliqued in an ornate style. 

She also said it reminded her of the little cropped jackets she often saw in one of her favourite TV shows, Poirot. I looked at it again. Could it's unusual ornamentation be 1930s  Art Deco rather than a costume?

The tag on the jacket reads "Walter Huppert - Melbourne". I could not find anything about this brand on the internet, including in Trove, which is the wonderful website of the National Library of Australia. Amongst other things, they have thousands of old newspapers digitised and indexed. References to brand names often come up as advertisements, which is great for locating the time and often the place where the company operated. However, this time I drew a blank. No Walter Huppert.

 It was time to consult the other experts.

The Vintage Fashion Guild has a wonderful website full of resources for identifying the age, make and style of garments. They also have a forum where anyone can register as a guest and join the discussion. One of the threads is a Q & A about any garment you would like others' opinions about. I posted my query. All agreed they had not seen anything quite like this jacket. It was suggested that I look closely at how the garment is constructed for clues.

So I did. The lining is silk and is mostly hand sewn, and hand stitched to the garment. It is also pleated in the back. There is a long strip inserted in the underneath of the sleeve, helping to achieve a rounded rather than a flat sleeve shape. The pockets are real pockets, not just for looks. They are made of the same silk as the lining. The fabric appears to be a good quality wool felt.

In the end, I have to thank the guru of Australian vintage, Nicole Jenkins of Circa Vintage for giving me her decisive opinion that this is a  fine tailor made 1950s jacket, and very cute! It's also in excellent condition. Nicole obviously has superior search skills to me because she also managed to find an advertisement for Walter Huppert, tailor, in a newspaper from the late 1940s. He was in business in Howey Place, Melbourne. I walked through Howey Place a few weeks ago hoping to find an old sign saying "Walter Huppert", or at least "tailor" painted on the brickwork in an obscure corner or side alley, but unfortunately, no. Interestingly, though, there is a tailor's shop still in business that backs onto Howey Place. I wonder?...

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