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Did I Stumble Upon a Vintage Chanel Suit - Please Tell Me

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion - Ask Questions Get Answers' started by Candace Lane, Nov 11, 2011.

  1. Were the other garments at the estate sale of designer quality? That can often help, as a wardrobe gives insight into someone and their life. If there were other designer labels (ideally, all designer labels) that increases the likelihood that this one is good quality too.
  2. Candace Lane

    Candace Lane Registered Guest

    yes, estate was historic mansion on Davis Island.

    I was fortunate to even get an invite to attend, and then this was the only item I could afford to buy, likely due to it's lack of buttons and labeling.

    the owner was this tiny elderly lady, the waist of the skirt is barely 23 inches, hips are 30 with a little bit more flair. she reminded me of Leona Helmsley and was overly worried about any one touching her china, crystal and furniture. The suit was thrown on a table with other clothing, to dig thru. I didn't even venture into the bedroom with the ball gowns - I felt under-dressed for That !!

    I could alter the skirt, make it into a short pencil skirt with a 30 inch waist, more likely to fit today's woman. The double zipper thing has stopped me from getting my scissors. I paused and decided to reach out to other vintage experts.

    The jacket is probably a size medium... so I wouldn't touch it... just make the skirt more wearable. The colors are beautiful - red and slate blue. I just fell in love with this suit.

    maybe I can cross off my bucket list "own a Chanel..."
  3. Candace, I think the best thing to do is seek expert advice; photos are limited, and authentication is too important not to be done properly.

    She sounds like an interesting woman: would love to have seen her ballgowns!
  4. joules

    joules VFG Member

  5. Rue_de_la_Paix

    Rue_de_la_Paix VFG Member


    My only 2 cents to add is that it would seem odd to have a Chanel suit made of a synthetic blend, most are wool or silk wool blend, etc. It hangs sort of stiffly, like a synthetic would hang, and the way the dark blue braid is sewn on the edges just does not look quite "well finished" to me in the way it lays. The pockets flaps don't look like Chanel finishing to me. How is the jacket lined, and are there weights or chains sewn inside the jacket? I think it is lovely, but from the photos, I agree with Nicole, as I just don't see Chanel signature touches in there.
  6. Candace Lane

    Candace Lane Registered Guest

    I've been a Coco Chanel fan for many years and read about her travels to Linton Tweeds in the UK. Their website has a clip art of a Coco-esque figure on the front page - and Chanel is mentioned in their history section, as well. In the 60's Linton used synthetics combined with wools in the making of their tweeds. In fact, they still use synthetics in their tweeds. It was the 60's - Chanel was big, and so were synthetics.

    At first, I was dismayed to suspect the fabric had a partial synthetic content, which I am pretty sure it does. I have Not clipped a seam to do a burn test, as I am still holding this suit in the highest regard and don't want to start deconstructing it.... Yet. The navy trim does not have the same synthetic feel, it's soft and natural, like vintage wool trim would feel. There are no pocket "flaps" on this suit.

    I read more about 60's couture fashions, and sure enough..... those fashion houses embraced the synthetic movement of that decade.

    Has anyone ever seen the two-zippers in the skirt? I'm still trying to figure that one out :)
  7. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    I have double zipper skirt closures in Norell suits, as well as various French suits - its a high end finishing technique.
  8. cosmiccowgirl

    cosmiccowgirl Alumni

    The VFG is not in the business of doing authentications and/or appraisals. As has been mentioned in this thread, there are people who do that for a living --- our own Claire is one of them. And any kind of appraisal of this type would require having the garment in ones hands. If you truly believe this is a Chanel garment, then you will need to bite the bullet pay the money for a qualified in-person inspection and appraisal.

    To describe this suit in a listing as French or “haute couture” is disingenuous since you don’t have provenance nor anything more than a feeling and a zipper. Whoever the maker, it is most definitely not haute couture.

    I have an extensive collection of designer and couture vintage. I primarily focus on European houses so I have a significant number of Chanel pieces. That being said, there are several features of this suit that lead me to believe it is not a Chanel item, but I am just going to address the zipper issue.

    While an Éclair zipper is a fairly good guideline that an item might have been made in France, there were many other European manufacturers there using that brand of zipper. Additionally, Éclair zippers were available to seamstresses/tailors/dressmakers. The craftsmanship of some of these people --- particularly old world Europeans --- is phenomenal. My own great aunt had a closet full of custom suits, all of which were made for her during her annual visits to Paris in the 50s and 60s.

    I have at least one USA-made suit with an Éclair zipper --- I believe it carries a Bergdorf Goodman label. And yes, I have seen and owned non-Chanel suits with dual skirt zippers. It’s a fairly common couture technique --- both French and domestic. Additionally, the chain along a jacket hem was not an exclusive technique used by Chanel. I have many US and European made suits that use that very technique.

    Lastly, I have to clear up one common misconception I see pretty frequently. In my decades of vintage hunting and gathering, I have seen more fake designer goods than authentic ones at “wealthy” estate sales. Just because a person has plenty of disposable income doesn’t mean they see fit to spend that money on pricey goods. I’ve also discovered incredible authentic pieces in unbelievably humble places. An item’s environment is simply not a good measure of its authenticity.
    cotmyey likes this.
  9. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    However, in all fairness, the likelihood of this suit being French is good since it does use eclaire zippers. Most continental clothes use German-made findings (Zipp or Prym)rather than French, and the suit does exhibit high end finishing (hand set silk lining, double zippers, matched pattern) its not just any old off-the-rack suit. It looks like couture to me, just not necessarily haute couture.
  10. Candace Lane

    Candace Lane Registered Guest

    I certainly appreciate everyone's opinion and hope I didn't ruffle any feathers.

    thank you so much
  11. fuzzylizzie

    fuzzylizzie Alumni

    I agree that this is a high quality garment, but there is just no way to authenticate it using photos only.

    However, it helps to know some of the specific techniques Chanel used. The above-mentioned Claire has done extensive research on Chanel garments, and she has written a great book - Couture Sewing Techniques - that helps identify those used by Chanel and other designers.

    Chanel used a distinctive type of buttonhole, where the outside was hand-worked, but the lining was bound. The two were then sewn together. It looks to me that your buttonhole is bound on the outside.

    Look carefully at the sleeve construction. A Chanel sleeve was usually made of 3 (as opposed to the usual 2 or even 1) pieces. However, some highend ready-to-wear and many custom dressmakers also used a three-piece sleeve.

    Chanel jackets were often, but not always, quilted.

    Any topstitching will be on the outer fabric only - not on the lining.

    Chanel did use a chain weight, but so did many ready-to-wear copies.

    Chanel was known for their luxurious wools.

    A thought: Chanel started a ready-to-wear line after Mademoiselle's death in the 70s. The quality was still high, but not what you would expect in a haute couture garment.

    As for the zippers, I have 2 garments with duel skirt zippers, and both are French. One is 1967 Givenchy couture and the other is 1970s Courreges ready-to-wear.
  12. I have a late '50s silk skirt suit by Sydney couturier Germaine Rocher that has two zippers in the skirt. You can see it here.

    Leigh, thanks for your comments about the wardrobe of a rich lady: you're quite right. I've often been amazed (in both directions) about what people have and wealth is no indication of buying quality. As well, I've also seen fakes in the wardrobes of those who could afford the real thing.
  13. Jeffp84

    Jeffp84 Registered Guest

    Could anyone tell me if this is real can send me an email and I'll send photos
  14. The Vintage Merchant

    The Vintage Merchant Administrator Staff Member

    Jeffp84, as is stated in the discussion above and in our forum guidelines, we do not do authentications here. your best way to authenticate is to take it directly to whoever designed your garment. we wish you the best in your findings!
  15. claireshaeffer

    claireshaeffer VFG Member

    I was looking for something else when I stumbled on this thread. I must have been asleep when it was current. This info is primarily for members since we don't authenticate.

    Here are some thoughts. Although I couldn't pull up all the pictures, I don't think she showed the jacket. The jackets are sometimes easier to identify, even when there is no label. A Chanel skirt would almost never have a label. The only label was usually in the jacket; and if you look closely, you can often see evidence on the back neck where a label might have been. I would like at which seams are handsewn. The buttonholes on the jacket are particularly helpful. She described them as "tailored" which I interpret as fabric or bound. Very few Chanel jackets have fabric buttonholes

    More thoughts--the faced waistband is a couture finish, but the dart would usually be eased on the fabric and maybe hand-sewn, tucked or eased on the backing. The skirt is not quilted and you can see the fabric selvages. Chanel skirt would usually be quilted. I've seen selvage on the outside as trim but don't remember any on the inside; that said, Worth never cut off the selvages--"they were a sign of quality."

    In the end, with limited information, I think it was a dressmaker copy--probably European. Chanel was the cat's meow and everybody copied in Europe as well as US.

    Now my current project is on couture line-for line copies. This is different from the rtw Chanel copies. I'm going to visit an I. Magnin copy of Dior's Virevolte at the deYoung in a few weeks; then I'm going to see the Dior orig. at the Met in Oct. I've looked at both before so I have some thoughts about them. We've discussed the copies before and I was looking for the earlier discussion.
    poppysvintageclothing likes this.

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