French Couturier Emile Pingat

E m i l e   P i n g a t   ( 1 8 6 0 – 1 8 9 6 )

“Emile Pingat had a proclivity for designing carefully finished dresses and outerwear which made him one of the top three French fashion designers during the second half of the 19th century. Active between 1860 and 1896, Pingat was adroit at manipulating multiple textiles and trimmings into a cohesive and elevated garment. He was inspired by design elements of other cultures and often reinterpreted them into his own work, making them unique and intriguing. His elaborately decorated and impeccably tailored outwear was particularly sought after.

Pingat’s reputation of creating magnificent outerwear is proven in this jacket. His attention to details, such as the sleeve tailoring and appliqués, is unexpected and superior. While his play on the three-dimensional quality of the textile, through applied braid trim, shows the highest caliber of work.

The influence Pingat drew from Chinese robes when styling this cloak is evident with the mandarin collar, wide cuffs and flat front. His combination of themes, mixing European flowers with Chinese scrolling clouds, is evidence of his ability to create couture garments encompassing many cultures.

One such garment is this monochromatic-themed coat which exemplifies Pingat’s expert use of various materials and textures to create a visual liveliness and opulence. There is an overall richness and depth that shows his masterful attention to trimmings and textiles, from the crimped fabric down to the subtle chenille edging amongst the plush.

The Islamic iconography represented here in the appliqués shows Pingat’s knowledge and interest in Eastern cultures. His couture mix of the European aesthetic and cross-cultural detailing makes his work distinctly memorable. This mantle was designed with the shorter panel in the back to accommodate the skirt styles at the end of the century, which still had some fullness left over from the bustle silhouette of the previous decade.

Pingat’s interpretation of Plains Indian motifs on this cape is indicative of his fascination with incorporating other cultures’ designs into the contemporary couture vocabulary. This style of embroidery pattern, although distinctive amongst other late 19th-century European designs, is iconic of Pingat’s work.

This fine example of Pingat’s outerwear is ornately embroidered in a style which shows his interest in other cultures. This high style interpretation is superbly executed with a level of detail which is consistent among the best work of the famous French couturiers.

This beautifully constructed Pingat cape gains a rich and elegant appearance from its use of coordinating black beadwork embroidery on alternating flat and pleated panels of contrasting materials. That elegance can particularly be seen in the front where the embroidery on the two flannel panels line up to create a larger cohesive design oriented horizontally, as opposed to the other panels which are vertically oriented.

The bustle silhouette was the prevalent style of any 1880s woman’s wardrobe. This cape mimics that silhouette, allowing the wearer to maintain the shape created by her dress underneath. The rich color of the royal blue velvet is evocative of the original wearer who at that point in time would have been seen as a precious jewel who required continual attention and assistance. That perceived helplessness is also reflected in the cape’s lack of armholes, which would limit easy mobility. Pingat’s treatment of the trim completes the luxurious quality of the garment with a liberal application of guipure lace in vertical lines emphasizing the statuesque, but somewhat removed, appearance of the wearer.”

M E T R O P O L I T A N   M U S E U M


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