Saturday, July 26, 2008

A New Take on the Cocoon Coat

What is a Cocoon Coat? Many new styles of coats emerged during the early part of the 1900s. Some of the more dramatic versions were a cross between a cloak, a coat, and a cape. Cloak styles during this time began to draw influences from the florid, swirling style of art nouveau patterns, often with oriental inspired lines and silhouettes. One of the more dramatic examples of a popular early-twentieth century coat was the "cocoon coat." The colorful print below by Georges Lepape (French, 1887–1971) from the French fashion magazine Gazette du bon ton (1912), depicts a woman wearing an elaborate cocoon coat with a wide fur collar.

Do I Look Puffy in This? After the 1920's, coats began to get sleeker, simpler, and form-fitting. It wasn't until the 80's that designers started experimenting more boldy again with folds, layers, and volume. I have to admit, when I see voluminous clothing ("puffy," for lack of a better word...or consisting of lots of folds and layers), I feel simultaneously intrigued and terrified. This ambivalence probably stems from the fact that I personally do not feel comfortable wearing clothes with loads of volume, which is due to a number of factors: (1.) I feel more "feminine" in clothing that is slightly more body-conscious. (2.) I already feel puffy, no need to make matters worse. (3.) It seems extremely out-of-context considering my location/environment. Having said that, there is something so queenly and powerful about larger silhouettes. These two girls below, who clearly have very distinct styles from one another, both somehow manage to pull off a voluminous coat/cloak in unique ways without looking like a stay-puff marshmallow.

Images from Facehunter. (left) It looks as if this girl's modern-day version of little red riding-hood was crafted using a piece of fabric folded and wrapped in an interesting way, then tied in the front. (right) This is such a casual, urban take on a vintage silhouette.

How Do I Make it My Own? Since I always try to step outside of my comfort zone from time-to-time, I began pondering ways that I could slowly work some more volume into my own wardrobe. I usually start dreaming of fall and winter around this time every year, so coats have been popping in and out of my subconscious lately. I think my answer to do-able volume is an item like a winter coat or hooded cloak in a neutral color and made from a fairly straightforward material like wool, or tweed. This way, the item is practical (it actually keeps me warm...who can fault me for wanting to be warm?), and the fabric itself isn't too avant-garde or over-the-top (letting the shape take center stage). These are gorgeous and way too expensive for me...but they give me a good idea of what to look for when I go thrift/vintage coat shopping at the end of the summer:

Mulberry Lurex cape coat NET-A-PORTER.COM

Oasis Cocoon Coat black,white,wool,buttons OSOYOU

Cocoon Sleeve Coat - Products - Fashion Addicts

Cocoon coat at


karla said...

surprisingly, I love this. The first coat is heavenly

Nothing Elegant said...

Thanks for the comment Karla! Looooove your pics! Cheers.