April 27, 2011

Vintage Lilli Ann Suits

One of the best American-made vintage suits labels is Lilli Ann, well-known for suits and coats from the late 1940s & 1950s. They were based in San Francisco but the Lilli Ann look is decidedly Parisian. Here's a bit of Lilli Ann eye candy for you!

Vintage clothing collectors seek out these wasp-waisted suits not only for their hourglass silhouettes, but also the luxury fabrics often labeled "loomed in Paris" or similar. They always have impeccable tailoring and extra details like the balloon peplum seen at left, which was a New Look motif carried into the 1950s. Especially elegant is the suit with ruched torso in middle view; because it's a lighter color, it's less likely to be found in wearable condition. We recently sold the exact suit seen at right, in three tones of latte brown.

This trio is equally posh, with unusual features. The suit at left is unique to see from Lilli Ann because its silhouette is sheath-like, rather than hourglass or a swing silhouette. That nipped-waist coat in the center's a fantastic silhouette, rarely found in the vintage clothing world. And the charming bow-accented suit at right has a rather girlish motif for business wear, in all French materials.

In the 1960s, Lilli Ann's looks turned a corner to keep up with the streamlined direction fashion was heading. Their new slogan "The world is yours" hoped to capture modern women's expanding horizons while dressing them as well as in the past. The company chose bolder colors, sleeker lines and eventually more obvious synthetics (like polyester and Ultra-Suede) as the 1970s approached.

Our website nearly always has a Lilli Ann gem or two available, and we're lucky to turn up more & more.

Sources from top left:
  • balloon peplum suit in French fabric called "starlight worsted", originally $110, Harper's Bazaar, April 1953
  • pale evening suit in French fabric, originally $100, Vogue, April 1953
  • vintage sharkskin suit in British fabric, originally about $90, Harper's Bazaar, September 1954
  • sheath-jacketed suit in French fabric woven in Normandy, originally $100, Harper's Bazaar, January 1953
  • wasp-waisted coat in "finest boucle` twist", originally $110, Harper's Bazaar, May 1953
  • bow-motif suit of French wool & mohair with Paris-made appliques, originally $100, Vogue, September 1953
  • turquoise fur-collared suit, Harper's Bazaar, September 1962
  • tweed coat in two versions, Harper's Bazaar, September 1965
  • sacque coat with fur collar, Harper's Bazaar, September 1963