Lot n° 147
10000 - 15000
Result with fees
: 130 000EUR
GABRIELLE CHANEL HAUTE COUTURE
Important 'Russian' Kitmir embroidered tunic, 1922
woven label and numbered 14190, of black silk crepe, with square neckline, hand embroidered in heavy green, red and yellow silks, silver threads with folkloric inspired vertical bands of stylised foliage and quatrefoils, with contrasting large lozenge repeats below the waistband, similarly embroidered cuffs and hem, bust 96cm, 38in
Discovered in a chateau in Grasse.
An important Gabrielle Chanel couture Kitmir embroidered 'Russian' tunic, 1922
This tunic was featured in British Vogue, early March 1922 "CHANEL LENDS ORIENTAL BRILLIANCE TO BLACK CREPE DE CHINE BY RUSSIAN AND BALKAN EMBROIDERIES: "(left) In this daytime costume of black crepe de Chine, Chanel turns to the Balkans not only for embroideries, but for the lines of the blouse itself. The characteristic combination of blue, yellow, and red appears in the embroidery of the blouse, which is worn over a plain, straight skirt.
In 1921, Coco Chanel was introduced to the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovana - sister of her then lover Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich. After the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, many aristocrats fled Russia to settle as refugees in Paris. In the Grand Duchess' memoire 'A Princess in Exile', she described how she liked to assist Chanel in her studio. When Coco complained at the exorbitant cost of embroidery, the Duchess offered her own services and indeed went on to set up her own specialist company which she called 'Kitmir' after a legendary dog in Persian mythology. It employed up to 50 young Russian exiles at its height, who had been trained in embroidery as part of their aristocratic education.
Although some hand embroidery was produced, the majority was made using Cornelly embroidery machines which allowed for the quick production of embroidered high-quality yardage for dressmaking. The Paris magazine 'Illustrated Russia' wrote of Kitmir:
"A Russian émigré lady has shyly entered this city. There was a time when her mother and grandmother ordered their dresses from Worth and Poiret, but this young Russian woman has just escaped from the hell of the revolution and civil war! She has arrived in the capital of female elegance and knocked on the doors of a luxury maison de haute couture. And the massive doors opened to let her in and she has captured everyone's heart".
In 1922 there was a craze for 'Russian' or folk-loric embroidery and many of the couture houses, including Lanvin and Premet incorporated traditional Slavonic embroideries in their collections. This is the only extant example known of Chanel's famous 'Russian' tunic. Initially, Kitmir worked solely for Chanel but by 1925 the business expanded and began to take orders from other fashion houses. Chanel, disliking the lack of exclusivity promptly ended the relationship.
Although the Vogue fashion illustration shows extended sleeves, this version seems to have been made with sleeves of a more practical length. There is a photograph of Mme Coty arriving in America in 1922 wearing an identical tunic with sleeves such as this one.
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