Embroidered velvet coat, Marshall & Snelgrove Ltd

Embroidered velvet coat, Marshall & Snelgrove Ltd

Embroidered velvet coat
Marshall & Snelgrove Ltd (retailers)
1895-1900
London
Embroidered velvet, satin and lace
Museum no. T.49-1962
Given by Mrs A. Poliakoff

This Paris couture coat reflects the influence of the European Arts and Crafts Movement. It features a medieval-style collar and is entirely covered in dramatic sprays of an English wildflower called 'Sweet Cicely' hand-embroidered in yellow and green silk, with petals of white felt.

The influence of the Arts and Crafts movement is apparent in this coat, hand-embroidered with sprays of an English wildflower called 'Sweet Cicely' (Myrrhis odorata). In the 1880s William Morris and other English artists rejected the dominance of the machine in British art and design. Their attempts to preserve the traditional designs and craftsmanship of textiles, furniture, ceramics and architecture created the Arts and Crafts style. Wild flowers were popular motifs, evoking the simplicity and charm of English country life, now vanishing in the face of urbanisation and the industrial revolution. Echoing these concerns, ‘Aesthetic’ dress of the 1870s rejected the fussy and upholstered look of women’s fashion. Although at first ridiculed, many of the decorative features of ‘Aesthetic’ dress were absorbed into mainstream fashion by the 1890s.

Marshall and Snelgrove were one of London’s exclusive department stores, founded in 1837 by James Marshall who was succeeded by his son in partnership with John Snelgrove in 1871. Bespoke dressmaking was an important feature of their store on Oxford Street and the coat combines the fashionable high collar and full sleeves with the artistic design of the embroidery.