• Image of ORIGINAL VINTAGE dramatic 1950s purple silk velvet opera coat, size UK 10-16
  • Image of ORIGINAL VINTAGE dramatic 1950s purple silk velvet opera coat, size UK 10-16
  • Image of ORIGINAL VINTAGE dramatic 1950s purple silk velvet opera coat, size UK 10-16
  • Image of ORIGINAL VINTAGE dramatic 1950s purple silk velvet opera coat, size UK 10-16
  • Image of ORIGINAL VINTAGE dramatic 1950s purple silk velvet opera coat, size UK 10-16

I'm not really in the business of selling vintage clothes, but occasionally I need to clear space in the closet so here is where I'll be adding the odd piece from my own personal collection (like this piece) that I have built up over the years for research purpose, or that I have discovered on my travels and have no space for.

This is a really magnificent original mid 20th century (sometime in the 1950s I would estimate) rich purple silk velvet opera coat. It has only one label, that of Harvey Nichols, a luxury London department store established in 1831 in Knightsbridge. It is one of the store's own brand garments, and it really is beautifully made, using very fine quality fabrics. The design of the woven Harvey Nichols label in the collar leads me to believe it was produced in the 1950s, which is supported by the shape, a generously cut 'swing' style (although I think this could also be worn as part of a 1920s themed ensemble due to the over-sized collar and 'cocoon' like feel).

The glossy soft supple velvet is mounted on a thin black cotton fabric, giving a luxurious weight and drape to the garment. Wide sleeves with a dropped shoulder seam are faced with a very wide border of the same purple velvet, so can be worn turned up if preferred. There are two large patch pockets.
The collar is the stand out feature. The coat has a single large hook and eye closure at the throat, and there is also a purple velvet covered button and corresponding thread loop half way up the collar, enabling it to be worn in a number of ways.
The coat is fully lined in matching purple satin, and is finished with a a black and white internal piping detail between the facing and the front edges of the lining.
There are no care or fabric content labels at all, so I snipped off a couple of small pieces of velvet from the inside seams and conducted a burn test.....the fabric curled away from the flame as it ignited, burnt with a slight splutter, and self extinguished when removed from the flame, leaving a shiny black residue which crushed easily to ash. This all confirms a high (or possibly 100%) silk content.
Further tests suggest the purple satin lining is a rayon, or similar cellulose based fibre.

It is in excellent condition, with no fading or deterioration of the silk velvet shell, so it is in very robust wearable condition. The satin lining is also in excellent unmarked and strong condition.
There are however a few isolated areas of what I can only describe as disturbances to the pile.....possibly water marks or pressure marks (they are definitely NOT worn or threadbare patches). It is really difficult to see what is going on as the fabric is so glossy and reflective, and virtually impossible to photograph in a way that does the sumptuous beauty of this coat justice. I have made a couple of little videos (please email and I can send you these) to try and show how sometimes these areas show, and sometimes they seem to disappear again as the light plays across the surface of the fabric. They are definitely there, but I really don't think they diminish the beauty of this lovely vintage piece.
This has been freshly dry-cleaned, and has no musty smell.

I have photographed it on a mannequin with the following measurements;

Bust; 36"
Waist; 30"
Length; nape to back hem, 47.5"

This is a generously cut shape with dropped shoulder seams, so although I would estimate this was sized to fit a UK 10-14, it would be fine on a smaller size, and could fit up to a UK 16/18 without looking too snug.