Funny Girl Red Velvet Coat Dress
“If this is a hotel I don’t think they’re ready for us!” Barbra Streisand wore this incredible red velvet coat dress in “Funny Girl” (1968.) You’ll see it appear onscreen during the scene from the “Sadie” montage, when Nick shows Fanny their new house for the first time. This look has many elements of popular 1920’s style, when velvet & fur trim were extremely trendy. Since the early 1900s, designers such as Jeanne Lanvin, Paul Poiret, Patou, Coco Chanel & more would use fur in abundance as trim for coats. An innovation that led to the demand for fur was the development of the motor car. The early cars were open, and riding in them in cool weather required warm & protective clothing.
This costume was designed by Irene Sharaff (1910-1993). Sharaff had previously designed costumes for Barbra in Funny Girl’s stage production. Irene began her career as a fashion illustrator at Vogue before turning to set & costume design. After completing two four year contracts at MGM & RKO, she became one of the only costume designers to freelance in Hollywood.
Her use of Thai silk in “The King And I” created such a trend in the world of high fashion that it became Thailand’s #1 export. Through her career she designed costumes for countless films & shows including “Cleopatra”, “West Side Story” & “An American In Paris.” Sharaff was known for her attention to detail, use of vibrant colors (she often said she saw everything in “blocks of color”) & versatility adapting to many genres & periods. Through her career she was nominated for a total of fifteen Academy Awards and won five, as well as one Tony Award.
Barbra’s “Funny Girl” coat was made from red silk velvet, which gives it it’s softness & light sheen. The front of the jacket has an inner button closure & there are two inverted pleats down the front & back. This costume is a testament to Sharaff’s impeccable draping abilities. The jacket features an a-symmetrical panel which wraps across the high neck collar & over the left shoulder to create a flowing cape. Both the panel and dress are trimmed with black fox fur.
This incredible piece sold at auction in 2004 for $5,750.00 USD.