Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (French, 18831971)
Gift of Diana Vreeland, 1954 (C.I.54.16.1a,b)
This suit made of ruby red silk velvet was inspired by a costume worn to a masquerade party in 1938. Called 'Watteau" and modeled after the dress of the male figure in a painting by Jean-Antoine Watteau (16841721), the suit represents a successful melding of contemporary and historical styles. The suit was intended to be worn with a flared floor-length skirt; the original owner, Diana Vreeland (19031989), shortened the skirt when the garment was in her personal wardrobe. Chanel herself wore a version of this suit executed in black velvet.