Vintage Sterling of Winnipeg 1940s or early 1950s immaculate black soft fine twill wool & silk velvet coat fit flare padded shoulders Canada
When I first saw this I thought it was for sure 1980s couture (eg Valentino or Givenchy) does 1940s very well indeed. I was amazed given the exceptional condition, that the label says Sterling of Winnipeg, and that dates it pre 1970s, unlike anything they did in the 60s & 70s, and very likely original late 1940s or early 1950s.
It certainly rivals anything that Swansdown or Lilli Ann were doing; every bit as exquisite tailoring as their best pieces; and I have never seen a piece from this time that looks so brand new!
So, if the 40s and 50s are your thing, you know how difficult it is to get a coat in such exceptional condition from this time. I was literally trembling when I tried it on it is THAT beautiful. I am not sure I am doing the right thing selling it but I can't keep all these beautiful pieces; though will make me shed a tear to part with this I can't be greedy and hoard everything myself!
The back of the coat is jaw droopingly beautiful: note the pleats & darts and the line with the central V in the velvet.
Sterling Cloak along with the other garment companies in Winnipeg in the early part of the 20th century were booming. Their position, between East and West Canada meant ideal for supplying both their utilitarian and high fashion markets, and close proximity to cheap hydro electric power, and a pool of skilled garment workers both from the Jewish and Eastern European communities. By 1953 they had acquired the famous historic Fairchild building and operated there until 1984, but by the mid to late 1970s had merges and became Sterling Stall. This coat however has the later 1940s/1950s Sterling label rather than the Stall one, and unlike anything they did 1960s.
Sterling Stall also manufactured stylish corporate wear such as air hostess uniforms, and military eg during WWII for Canadian forces. So there is the possibility this was a piece for ceremonial eg state or legal occasion; but we think the high fashion style detailing such as the darts and pleats make it more likely to have been designed for elegant ladies fashion. But, the buttons are crowns...so was this to mark the visit of Princess Elizabeth to Winnipeg in 1951? Or indeed her coronation as monarch of the Commonwealth including Canada of course, in 1953? Just speculation: may be just tapping in to Canada's Royal heritage. The RCMP mounties of course also wore crown buttons, and for eg one of the most successful Big Bands of the period based in the USA were Guy Lombardo and his 'Royal Canadians', who released 'Enjoy Yourself...it's Later than You Think' (yes the song later covered eg by The Specials).
Formed by Morris Neaman in 1933, who also had a fur company, according to primary sources, Sterling had a reputation for exceptional high fashion tailoring in ladies coats, as well as their more utilitarian wear. They were after all primarily a small skilled tailoring heritage despite their great success. Now they continue as JMJ Fashions wholesale manufacture and once met a deadline for Nordstrom for 7000 pieces in 5 days! They are proud of their heritage as Sterling, and its tailoring despite their more utilitarian wear these days.
So we are going from sometime between 1946 & 1953 for production of this coat. It's a real femme fatale looking coat and one Canadian star of that time who would often play film noir roles, was Alexis Smith who was part of Winnipeg's 75th anniversary celebrations in 1949. My favourite movies of hers were made 1948 'The Decision of Christopher Blake' and 'Whiplash', and also "Conflict"(1945) and "The Two Mrs Carrolls" (1947) with Bogart'. If you are a fan of 1940s femme fatale glamour you will love those movies. 1953 , was the year 'Niagara' was released and one of Marilyn Monroe's best roles, set against the backdrop of the Falls on the Canada/US border. So this sets the scene for when this coat was produced & first worn we think. While the coat does have the structured shoulders of the 1940s, they were still a feature of many garments through to the early 1950s despite the Dior New Look, especially in the USA and Hollywood.
In motoring, you may have driven a Canadian made Ford Meteor at this time, which began production there in 1949.
If it is indeed of that age, you will never find a piece so absent of fading sings of wear or damage. The only issue is as we don't think it had been worn much buttoning it up does tend to flake some tiny flecks of gold off the gold coloured crown buttons; so in time it make lose some gilding., though I think this will not affect the look of the coat. It can be worn with a belt as there are belt loops,. Though there is no original belt I am including a vintage leather brass buckle narrow belt with the coat as it looks good. Though tbh it doesn't need a belt; and even retains it's tailored shape when worn open and loose. Simply one of the most remarkable period coats you will ever find; stunning on and very flattering. Also looks fab with a wide 1950s style belt, as shown in a couple of the photos (not included but I could get you something similar if you prefer the wider belt)
So it's a UK size 10 I would say, though I am a UK size 6-8 and looks great on my frame too.
Not a coat for every day wear as this should be treasured and worn for special occasions given its heritage and condition; and not to bum around grunge style! Not one for the pub! I would literally become a femme fatale from hell if anyone spilled a drink over me in this! Such beautiful dark elegance can become very evil very quickly! A coat a someone who did such a thing should die for!
Simply one of the most sensational vintage pieces for period femme fatale elegance, I have ever come across. If you appreciate, don't hesitate; splash out and in 'Royal Canadian' style...'Enjoy Yourself...it's later than you think...."
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