Documented Fall 1981 Chanel Red Metallic Silk Skirt & Jacket Set w Hand Applied Chenille Cording Detail

Without a doubt this is truly an exceptional piece of vintage Chanel and a rare find. It is a wonderful example of the work that the house of Chanel was creating during this time period. This would have been from right before Karl joined Chanel in an official capacity in 1982, however, in the couple of years proceeding his appointment as Creative Director, Karl was doing freelance work with them so you can still see his influence. The first Chanel Ready-to-Wear collection debuted in 1978 and many of the early pieces like this one were made to order. The main difference being that the pieces were sent pre-sized for the client to the boutique and then the final fitting was done in the boutique rather then at the Chanel atelier. I was pleased to have found a runway shot that dates the set exactly and this suit has the added historical provenance of being the actual suit that was worn on the red carpet by actress Sarah Catharine Paulson.

The suit in person makes such an impact. Far more then it does in the photos. The camera doesn't quite catch the vibrancy of the silk lame fabric or the texture of the chenille that details it. Both the jacket and the skirt are made from a rich red metallic silk lame. Onto that there is a black tufted chenille cord has been hand applied into a squiggle pattern. There is padding between the red lame and the inner lining and this gives it a quilted 'puffed' feel. The texture that this creates is incredible. The actual cut of the set is minimal and this simplicity really allows the fabric to take center stage. The jacket is done with that classic Chanel box cut. The sleeves are long and straight cut. There are three hook & eye at the very top of the neck to hold it closed and then it is open under that to the hem. The edges of the jacket have been finished with a band of the chenille cording to highlight the cut. There are no other embellishments and this simplicity lets it sit perfectly in place once on the body. It is cut to sit just past the waist line of the skirt and you can see how wonderfully it sits in the photos of Sarah. The skirt skims over the hips and then gently widens out as it nears the hem. The top of the waist is detailed with bands of the chenille and there are pockets hidden along the seams of each hip. The fabric is lighter then it looks so the set is very comfortable to wear. It has enough weight to it that both pieces hold their shape perfectly and it has a very sculpted formal feel to it once on. I love that you can wear the two pieces together or break it up and mix them with things from your current closet. It give its a lot of styling options and versatility. The jacket has the Chanel boutique label present and inside the skirt is a hand written / numbered label. It is made to demi-couture standards and almost entirely by hand. The numbered tape suggests that it would have been a custom ordered piece. Excellent condition

Full lined in a fine black tissue silk. Hand finished throughout. The jacket has three hook and eye near the top of the neck and the skirt closes with back hand set zipper. Hook and eye closure at the waist band above the zipper. Light padding in the shoulders of the jacket and pockets along the sides of the skirt.

Sleeves: 22.5"
Shoulders: 16"
Bust: 20" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: 20" flat across from side seam to side seam
Length: 20" from neck to hem

Waist: 14" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: 23.5" flat across from side seam to side seam
Length: 43" from waist to hem

Modern Sizing Equivalent: SML-MED

Item# DD3728

Photo credits: (1) F/W 1981 Chanel Runway Collection.  /  (2-3) Cherie, Owner of Shrimpton Couture, by Erin Leydon.   /  (4-6) Sarah Catharine Paulson in our Chanel suit attends the Costume Designer Guild Awards 2019, Styling by Karla Welch

This garment has been professionally cleaned, pressed and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.

Setting up a layaway is super easy and we are happy to provide this service!

Here's how deposits work on a standard layaway:

  • We require three equal payments of the layaway total. You will be invoiced for the first amount upon request
  • payment two of the remaining balance will be billed two weeks from the date of the initial deposit.
  • The final payment is due two weeks after the second payment and shipping will be billed on this invoice as well.
  • items less then $500, or that are on sale, require a 50% deposit with the final payment due in two weeks from the date of deposit 

Read More

We offer flat rate Standard UPS shipping worldwide. All shipping options are displayed at checkout in the pull down menus provided.

Want it faster?

We offer flat rates for expedited and express shipping options - these will also display at check out and can be selected with the drop down menu during the checkout process.

Read More


Please review all measurements carefully. More often than not, vintage garments do not fit any size category exactly. If in doubt, measure a garment of your own that fits and is a similar cut and compare it's measurements to the listed measurements below.