When planning the costumes for Funny Girl, one piece I felt very strongly about was procuring a leopard coat for Fanny Brice for the opening and closing scenes. I had a few reasons for this preference: 1) Barbara in that leopard coat is an iconic image from the movie, 2) a leopard skin coat is very iconic of the late 20's/early 30's time period, and 3) the show takes place largely in a flashback. Whatever Fanny wears in the opening and closing needs to stand out enough so that when we return to "modern day" at the end of the show the audience recognizes that we are back to where we were in the opening moments...
Sadly, while the theater has an amazing collection of vintage furs, serious amazing, none of them were from any variety of large cat. So I decided to build my own faux-leopard jacket.
I started by sketching my thoughts for the coat. This coat had to be long enough to cover both the opening and finale outfits. Further I wanted something swingy and easy to give that feeling of luxury. However, the collar had to be high enough to conceal whatever was underneath.
After sketching out my ideas I dug through my collection of vintage patterns to find something that would be a close match to the silhouette I was looking for. This Advance pattern from the early 60s was not only in the correct size for my leading lady, but had the ease I hoped to convey. It proved an excellent base for my design as all I had to do was change the sleeve length, add cuffs, remove the pockets, and add a larger stand collar made from a contracting fur.
I cut the body of the coat as drafted and cut a lining out of an orange polyester I had in my stash. The leopard fur was a lightweight material closer to minky than to a real faux-fur, but it has a lovely drape that worked wonderfully for this full style. As this was a costume which needed to conceal several different costumes, I used large snaps along the front enclosure.
In the end, I think that this particular garment both fit well and had the impact necessary for the stage.