The coat came back

If you're Canadian, you might remember the 1988 National Film Board animation, "The Cat Came Back". If not, it's here, just over seven minutes of Wallace and Grommit-ish whimsey.

Perry Ellis
The chorus, "The cat came back/we thought he was a goner" scampered through my mind because after the move, I'd been thinking that I should not have given up my old caramel Perry Ellis lambskin car coat, which I had placed with a vintage store in Toronto.

It was bought in 1992 at Saks in Boston, deeply on sale. This is when Marc Jacobs designed for the company; Ellis died in 1986.

Probably made it to the sale rack because, though marked a 6, it would swamp anyone truly that size. Think I paid $200-something, at 70% off.

I wore it lightly for some years. When I moved, the Toronto vintage store Thrill of the Find, which accepts the very occasional consignment piece, took it to sell.

Flash forward 16 months, and I thought, That coat... especially when I flipped price tags for a new one. I figured it had gone to a good home.

When visiting Toronto at the end of the summer, I dropped by to see Mireille, the owner, and asked about it. "I was putting that on the floor this week", she said, "it's the season." I tried it on; she marveled at its quality and said, "It's yours!"

Here it is; it's weathered the last nearly 20 years with fewer nicks than I have! Fortunately, Jacobs rejected padded shoulders; I'd try it on in a shop today.

I especially like the generous, caped back...

... and the blouson hem fastened by working horn buttons, an expensive detail.

The current company, Perry Ellis International Inc. (who own Jantzen, and Laundry by Shelli Segal, among other brands) have mislaid both the wit and quality that made women save their pennies to be "Very Perry".

Come back to the Passage next week–another old coat, another story! 

Sometimes the "great vintage find" is your own!



Susan B said…
How wonderful that you were able to get your much-loved coat back! It IS you. All of those interesting little details and that gorgeous just don't find items like this anymore.
elke said…
Lovely coat; so nice the decision to let it go wasn't final. I bought a Perry Ellis trench that same year, in dark grey wool. Every year I think I should give it away; it's mid-calf, so not currently stylish,(no shoulder pads, though), and every year I put it back in the closet. It's useful over the rare longer skirt, or for winter funerals.
Northmoon said…
Wonderful that you have a second chance to wear your coat.

Just goes to show that sometimes it's wrong to part with something you love just because you haven't worn it for a while. When considering new replacement clothing, the prices just go up and quality seems to go down.
That is such a beautiful coat, and such buttery leather. Moreover, the colour suits your hair perfectly.

A severe cull was necessary, of course, moving and downsizing from a large house to a compact condo. I'm so glad you were reunited.

As for the CAT, my Renzo went missing on Halloween 4 years ago. He returned on the 6th of December!

One lucky black cat.
Anonymous said…
I'm so glad the coat came back, if not the very next day... It's a beauty. Perry Ellis always had the most elegant coats--especially for tall women. I remember talking a visiting friend from L.A. into buying a gorgeous cranberry wool Perry Ellis pea coat at Bloomingdale's in the early '80s. She was reluctant to invest in a winter coat, though New York was freezing, but it was such a perfect fit and color that she ended up buying it--and wearing it every winter until it wore out 20 years later. I hope your luscious coat gives you pleasure for many years more.

frugalscholar said…
I remember when Perry Ellis was known for handknit sweaters. My mother knit me two of them from published patterns: the yarn (fabulous) cost about $80 for EACH sweater. I still have them, packed away.

Ellis hired women in NYC (?) to knit the sweaters. I remember seeing pictures of the knitters. The sweaters were so expensive, over $200 in the late 70s/early 80s!
Duchesse said…
Une femme: If could find it, I probably could not afford one!

elke: I see some long coats and you can wear them over shorter skirts. It is the sleeve, especially how it is set into the armhole (and the shoulder, if padded) that dates them. I wonder if you could shorten it, even just a bit, without ruining the line.

lagatta: Both of you are lucky!

C.: Her pea coat sounds stunning. His coats were loved for a reason.

frugal: I bought one of those sweaters in '82 or so, a PE turtleneck handknit in gorgeous thick heathered yarn. The back was a different colourway from the front, subtle but interesting. Wish I had that, too. Who might wear yours, Miss Em?

This is making me realize how deeply I miss Perry Ellis (and also WilliWear). Who make clothes like this now?
Darla said…
What a great story. It is a wonderful coat and you look lovely in it.

Gretchen said…
This makes me so happy for you! I used to drool over PE clothing, but never was able to afford it. So stylish is that coat, I can only imagine the deliberations with yourself to let it go originally. No matter...that you got it back says it was meant to be yours all along. Iagatta said it well - culling is necessary, but sometimes in the thrill of cleaning out, we all manage to let go some things that were probably not good thinking on our part. Cannot wait to see the next posting you hinted about!
Indeed, the sleeves, the very cut of the coats and of course those damned padded shoulders have caused me to nix every one of the high-end coats I've seen in church bazaars and charity shops this year. I had a gorgeous one - a black cashmere/fine woolllen mix, perfectly cut - though of course I wore it out.

Anonymous December 6, 2012 6:38 PM , don't worry, la Duchesse will wear that here. Our winters aren't as eternal or Siberian as they used to be, but that is a coat for the milder winter days here, with a couple of layers underneath. Last year, I wore my mild-weather coat much more than the very warm down one, but who knows?

Duchesse, yes, a day or two more and I couldn't have saved him as he was so emaciated after 5 weeks on the lam in the bitter cold. He's my little old buddy.
Duchesse said…
Gretchen: I scrimped to buy PE and hunted it on sale- and learned to not buy the white cotton shirts, too vulnerable to inkstains. But they were so great, with that horizontal pleat at the elbow.

lgatta: A down vest under makes most any coat wearable at a level colder than one would think. I've been alternating leather and down.

Yes, jumble sales don"t have many current looking coats b/c who would give away a good one when they are so expensive to replace?
barbara said…
Your coat is awsome!
Can't imagine another person wearing this very special piece.
It has been made for you.
Nina said…
Your coat is just great, especially the color. I have a beautiful leather carcoat that I purchased in the 80's from JL Hudson fur department (when they were still in business). The leather is buttery soft in a deep chocolate brown. It has a lovely hood that is fur trimmed. What dates it is a gathered hem. However, I still wear it as the feel is wonderful. But I always hope I don't look too out of style. I am so happy you got your lovely classic one back.
Duchesse said…
barbara: IMO when we find a perfect coat, we should buy it. There will always be another v-neck or pair of jeans, but a good coat (which is after all the first and last thing people see on us) does not show up that often.

notchke: Can't help but wonder what a skilled tailor could do with that pleated bottom. Ah, Hudson's fur department was splendid- my mother bought me a raccoon coat there; I wore it for about 15 years.
Anonymous said…
I don't think I ever saw the film, but I remember singing the song on the bus to Girl Scout camp, over and over and over.

How lovely that you found your coat again. It's definitely "you"!
dana said…
For some reason, our local PBS station played "The Cat Came Back" between shows for the entire 1990s. It's so hysterical we'd stop in our tracks and watch every time! I was thrilled to find a Canada Film Board dvd a few years ago.

Coats are next to impossible! I've been looking for a good dress one for years. I've accepted a few almost good enoughs because I've had to. Frustrating!
dana said…
Oh! and WilliWear! I so miss Willi Smith. I still have a black and deep orange patterned sweater from the 80s. Smiley faces nestle among the abstract shapes. Fortunately, I bought the only size they had -- a large -- so I can still wear it!

Now if I can just get through your captcha. It kicks me out about 4 times out of 5!
materfamilias said…
That's a great coat, and how wonderful that you were reunited. I was just reminiscing at another blog about a fabulous Black Watch wool cape I had in the early 70s. Wish I had hung onto that, but of course, we do need to cull for our moves.

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