National Cloak and Suit, Fall/Winter 1913-1914
Once upon a time – say, over 100 years ago, groups like PETA didn’t exist and fashionable women wore furs. These two ladies look like influencers from a “Downton Abbey” episode – svelte and chic. The artist who drew them and the printer who printed these color pages did their utmost to do justice to the glamour of the day, and I’d say they succeeded. These illustrations from the 1913-1914 National Cloak and Suit catalog are some of the finest color work I’ve ever seen in a catalog. Worth clicking to zoom in.
On the other hand these ARE furs – and not just furs, but furs to excess. On the left we have “Russian Bearskin.” Curiously, “Russian Bearskin” is always written with “quotes” around it, leaving us wondering if it was actually Russian, or actually bear, or just what. On the right the fur is “Coney”, which is not just an island but another name for rabbit. It is, the copy notes, “smartly trimmed at once side with an animal head and two paws, and at the other with a bushy tail and two paws.” Not a rabbit’s head and tail, mind you, but a generic “animal head.” And now one, but FOUR animal heads in all, which is a bit overkill — if you’ll pardon the expression.
Come to think of it, the “Russian Bearskin” seems to have at least four tails showing. Thank goodness it didn’t come with a matching Russian Bear head attached.
But still, that’s some gorgeous artwork, eh?