Self-Designed Leopard Skirt Suit And Bowler Hat

Barbra Streisand wore this leopard skirt suit and hat, which she designed herself on many occasions in the 1960’s. Barbra was inspired to create this outfit from her love of the leopard print pillows which decorated her bedroom. She noted in a 2009 In Style magazine that “I had leopard-skin pillows on my bed, and I decided to have a leopard suit made. This was before PETA!”

Photo by Howell Conant

The first time we see this sexy skirt suit appear is in a November 6, 1964 Life Magazine story titled “Grown-up U.S. Fur Fan Barbra Streisand”, with accompanying photos shot by Howell Conant. In this feature we also get a glimpse at the aforementioned leopard pillows which inspired the look. 

Barbra wore the suit again, this time with a ribbed black turtleneck sweater-dress beneath it to the Cue Magazine Entertainer Of The Year Awards in January 1965. On this occasion, Barbra (who was named the 1963 Entertainer of the Year) presented the 1964 “best star performer in a Broadway show” award  to Sammy Davis Jr. 

Barbra wore the same look backstage at Funny Girl on March 26, 1965 as she celebrated the one year anniversary of the show’s opening. 

Barbra was seen again in this look at the February 1966 Chanel show in Paris.

photo by Bill Eppridge

Prior to filming Color Me Barbra, the show’s sponsor (fabric manufacturer) Chemstrand paid for Barbra to visit Paris to attend the haute couture shows and order any outfits she wanted. This trip was organized by Vogue’s Diana Vreeland. Some of the shows Barbra attended included Dior, Chanel, Grés, and Yves Saint Laurent.

Barbra meets Coco Chanel -photo by Bill Eppridge

Barbra recalled that “Going to the fashion houses was exciting. Unfortunately, I was sick to my stomach for 10 days from a bouillabaisse I ate in Marseille. If I look a little strange, it’s because I thought I might throw up.” 

You can really tell she might barf in this one -photo by Bill Eppridge
Barbra shops for shoes at Chanel

Barbra also wore this suit for a “Look” magazine photo shoot which appeared in the April 5, 1966 edition. The cover shot again gives us a glimpse of the pillows which inspired the outfit. 

Barbra had this outfit custom made by Reiss & Fabrizio, with its matching hat by Louise, New York. 

Reiss & Fabrizio was founded in 1942 and became famous for making luxury fur jackets and stoles. 

A ca 1962 Reiss & Fabrizio silk and fur stole from the permanent collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Reiss & Fabrizio early 1960’s

This suit consists of a silk and fur double breasted jacket with peak lapels and two flap pockets. There are four black decorative button at the front, two of which function for closure.

The lining of the jacket features two broad welt inside pockets. The Reiss & Fabrizio label is embroidered on the right one and the monogram “BSG” (for Barbra Streisand Gould) is embroidered on the left inside pocket.

Barbra often wore this jacket with a white button up shirt which she had made by Elliot Gould’s shirtmaker, and a chic black tie. The matching knee-length straight skirt features both zipper and button closures on each side. 

Barbra’s matching bowler hat, made by New York milliner Louise has an open crown with is a style developed in the early 19th century so that wearers could custom shape the hat themselves rather than it being pre-blocked. The brim is turned up and there is a black hat band. 

Barbra’s custom leopard ensemble sold at auction in 2004 for $5,500.00 including the buyers premium.

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