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Austrian production (label “M.lle Amalie Wallemie [...] Wien”)

1907-09 c.
Blue wool cloth, yellow taffeta
Antique Textiles 3779 and 3780

The tailleur, a pants suit with jacket and skirt, whose name was borrowed from the French term for a man's tailor, had only entered women's clothing around twenty years earlier as a reinterpretation of the traditional men's suit. Practical and versatile, it quickly became an essential garment, used for daytime occasions that required a more functional outfit without renouncing elegance.

The suit on display is made of soft woollen cloth, a material that until a few decades earlier was considered unsuitable for elegant attire according to women's fashion. It was used only for travel or work clothes, but at the beginning of the 20th century it was ennobled and chosen also for haute couture day wear, usually embellished with elaborate embroidery. In this case, both jacket and skirt are decorated with the application of spikes and soutache, i.e. thin woven trimmings in brown and blue silk used to form geometric patterns on jackets and skirts. The jacket is long, of the redingote type (from the English riding coat), i.e. narrow at the waist and flared at the bottom, and has no lacing. The high cuffs and the centre back of the waistband are decorated with large metal buttons. The skirt is flared and has a small pocket on the right side, partially hidden by the jacket tails, perhaps to be used for a handkerchief or pocket watch. The tailleur is completed by a false waistcoat in yellow silk taffeta, decorated with large embroideries in silk thread with floral motifs that create a lively contrast to the severity of the suit. To complete the ensemble, this type of suit was worn over a blouse or a dickey, with a high stiffened collar in lace or tulle that covered the neck and completed the neckline.

Donation by Umberto Tirelli, Rome


Umberto Tirelli e Maria Cristina Poma, Donazione Tirelli: la vita nel costume, il costume nella vita, Arnoldo Mondadori, Milano, 1986, pp 80 e 205; Roberta Orsi Landini, Abiti in festa. L'ornamento e la sartoria italiana, Sillabe, Livorno, 1996, p 29.

Text by
Camilla Colombo; Vanessa Gavioli
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