Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Marion Litchfield, 1950
Not on view
Emile Pingat had a proclivity for designing carefully finished dresses and outerwear which made him one of the top three French fashion designers during the second half of the 19th century. Active between 1860 and 1896, Pingat was adroit at manipulating multiple textiles and trimmings into a cohesive and elevated garment. He was inspired by design elements of other cultures and often reinterpreted them into his own work, making them unique and intriguing. His elaborately decorated and impeccably tailored outwear was particularly sought after.
The bustle silhouette was the prevalent style of any 1880s woman's wardrobe. This cape mimics that silhouette, allowing the wearer to maintain the shape created by her dress underneath. The rich color of the royal blue velvet is evocative of the original wearer who at that point in time would have been seen as a precious jewel who required continual attention and assistance. That perceived helplessness is also reflected in the cape's lack of armholes, which would limit easy mobility. Pingat's treatment of the trim completes the luxurious quality of the garment with a liberal application of guipure lace in vertical lines emphasizing the statuesque, but somewhat removed, appearance of the wearer.
Marking: Woven in silver on black label: "Emile Pingat/30. Rue Louis le Grand. 30/Paris"