Cape by Reville and Rossiter of Hanover Square, London.
Many years ago I encountered this cape with an unusual criss-cross front.
Detail of front of vintage cape.
I was reminded of it by two different Butterick patterns.
1914: Butterick 6975
This one is Butterick cape 6975 from June 1914. Delineator.
Note: I often have to crop images to show details because they would otherwise be too tall to see on a computer screen. Tall hats make it a real challenge. This page was 16 inches high.
Those very tall aigrettes on the hat make it hard to photograph the entire ensemble. [The word “aigrette” is etymologically related to “egret.”]
Let’s hope those are heron feathers and not the endangered snowy egret, or osprey. (Egrets and Herons are members of the same family.)
Here’s a description of Butterick cape 6975:
One pattern included several versions of cape 6975. “The cape may be in any of three outlines….”
1920: Butterick 2319
In 1920, Butterick issued a another cape pattern, even more similar to the vintage cape:
Detail of front of vintage cape.
Butterick cape 2319, Delineator, April 1920.
Two illustrations of Butterick cape 2319 from 1920. Images via Google and the Hathi Trust.
I even found a story illustration showing a young woman wearing a simple criss-cross cape on board a ship.
Story illustration from Delineator, 1920.
Of course, that cape doesn’t really look very good, because the narrow criss-cross front straps conflict with the look of the dress under it. The high-end vintage cape, on the other hand, covers most of any blouse that would be worn under it.
Cream and black cape by Reville and Rossiter of Hanover Square, London.
This very high quality wool cape, which I found in a private collection, was made of tightly woven, creamy white wool, with a black silk lining and black accents. It reminded me of doeskin — but I think it was slightly brushed wool.
Detail of vintage cape fabric, showing damage.
Back of Reville and Rossiter cape. Part of the collar is black.
The cape was probably intended to be worn and kept on, like a suit coat, because it was held in place by ties in back, near the waist. This cape would not be something you casually slipped in and out of during a visit; I think you would want to be standing in front of a mirror as you settled it on your shoulders and then reached behind you — under the cape — to tie the silk ties like apron strings.
The pleated white bands end behind the wearer’s body in black silk ties, which have shattered.
The silk ties, like the lining, were very damaged.
However, there is no problem dating this cape, because it is the British equivalent of couture. The date, 1912, is on the label:
The label in the cape says Reville & Rossiter, (1912) Ltd. Hanover Square W. — a posh London address.
I said this was a very high-end garment; Reville and Rossiter of Hanover Square also made the custom coronation gown worn by Queen Mary in 1911. (Click the link to see more views and close-ups.)
Back view of Queen Mary’s coronation dress, 1911. The embroidery represented flowers and leaves from England, Ireland, Scotland, and India. Image courtesy of The Royal Collection Trust.
They made this court dress (Click here to see full information and an enlarged image) in the collection of the Victoria and Albert museum, …
Reville & Rossiter made this Court dress with train, worn in September, 1913. Image courtesy of V&A museum.
Detail of bodice on court gown by Reville & Rossiter, 1913. Notice the superb lace and the tassels at the waist. Courtesy of V&A museum.
… and this 1919 evening dress, also at the V & A.
The front of the Reville & Rossiter cape. The black buttons and buttonholes echo the back collar, also black.
I suppose it’s possible that the cross-over front of this designer cape inspired copies, which became available as sewing patterns by 1914 — and the style was copied even more closely in 1920. According to The Royal Collection Trust, “Reville and Rossiter was a London couture house made court dressmaker to Queen Mary. It gained the royal warrant in 1910 and in 1911 designed the queen’s coronation robe. By the 1930s they were no longer in business.” You could say that our vintage cape, made in 1912, was fit for a queen.