Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (French, 1883–1971)
Isabel Shults Fund, 1984 (1984.31a-c)
Chanel excelled at soft tailoring. This particular coat-and-dress ensemble blends dressmaker techniques with the definite finishes of the tailor. The dress hem and appliqués of chiffon on the jacket have been carefully cut to follow the floral pattern of the textile. The fabric is reinforced with ornamental overstitching in a manner that, while appearing to be entirely decorative, also provides structural reinforcement. This soft tailoring became the token of the Chanel suit in the designer's sustained evolution until her death in 1971.