Saturday, 22 October 2011

Lilli Ann suit close-up

A few years ago I nabbed this vintage Lilli Ann suit on ebay. It was only a little too small at the time, now it's a lot more but I hold on to the belief I'll wear it some day. I could sell it on for a good price, but it's too gorgeous to part with, and who knows if I'd ever find another at a good price and in a decent size (a lot of mid-century vintage is tiny). So anyway, I thought I share some pics and details with you. If you're interested let me know as I have a couple of dresses I could do posts on too, albeit not quite as special as this.

So first, a bit of background on Lilli Ann. The company have become a byword for particularly stylish, tailored suits. This one is quite a typical style. Adolph Schuman started the company in 1933 in San Francisco, naming the company after his wife Lillian. 

This particular suit appears to have been licensed through a department store going by the Addis Company, Syracuse NY label. I googled it and found a picture of a rather swish building which had housed the, now closed down, store. It seemingly was quite an upmarket department store. I assume it would be a similar set-up to a modern day 'Designers at Debenhams' type arrangement. If anyone has any further information I'd be fascinated to hear it.

Note the fabric label? Well after the war Schuman travelled to France, opened a showroom in Paris and bought up fabric, often from small companies on the verge of post war bankruptcy saving them from going under. At this time he started adding Paris to the labels and there are similar labels showing Italy and England. 

The company produced similar, fitted suits into the 50s then changed tack to a knits line and so on. Schuman himself died in the 80s but the label carried on until the end of the 90s.

The suit itself... well it's a fine wool, grey with a subtle blue weave then flecked with white. Very lovely fabric and in remarkable condition apart from some splitting at the cuff (any conservators out there with any suggestions on how to stabilise this without compromising the garment?). 

The peplum is corded and stitched with contrast thread then pleated so it has lots of volume and shape. The buttons are white hard plastic and fasten through loops. I noticed one of the buttons has been re-stitched on with different coloured thread, so it's had a little more wear than I initially thought it had. It's lined with what feels to me like a silk crepe in wine. The skirt is lined in blue which I thought a bit strange.

The lining stitched to the jacket hem.

One particularly nice touch is that the fabric is aligned at the back collar seam.

I particularly love the tapered overlap at the front of the peplum.

The skirt is a straightforward straight skirt with tiny pleats rather than totally stitched down darts and a rear kick pleat. 

Metal zipper of course and the button is mounted on a shirt weight blue checked cotton tab. The seams are all pinked, as is the lining. The lining hem is pinked also rather than being hemmed. The deep hem is pinked then finished with blue hem tape. The seams have a folded interfacing on each side of the seam between the seam allowance and the skirt.

Interesting, we obsess about seam finishes and tend to see pinking as a bit home-made now yet here a decent quality item is pinked as are many vintage garments. I tend to pink seams quite a lot myself, either leaving them or catching them down to an underlining by hand. I don't like overcast edges and like the lack of extra bulk from pinked seams. It depends on the garment and the fabric of course. But if something is holding up perfectly well after 60 odd years then it's probably fine! You'll see the right hand side seam has a significantly larger seam allowance than the other seams.

So I hope you've enjoyed this close up look at a nice piece of vintage and haven't minded the digression from corsets too much.

(information on Lilli Ann from various sources online including Pintuck StyleVintage Fashion Guild and another history here )

1 comment:

  1. This is such a beautiful suit. Thanks for sharing.