There is nothing so elegantly extravagant in a woman's (or man's) wardrobe as an Opera Coat.
As is true of all design (being differentiated from art), the opera coat is essentially a utilitarian concept: a cover-up long enough to protect the wearer and their fine evening garments from the elements. But the beauty of the coat is how it goes about protecting. It does its job while retaining its own unique air of regality and decorum. And nothing makes for a grander entrance than a voluminous sweep of duchese, faille, ottoman, petersham, gazar, radzimir, brocade, matelasse, or tussah.
Far better than just a top coat and even more preferred than a fur (Hell just froze over!), an opera coat is so beautiful it can really stand on its own merits. But combined with a gorgeous evening gown or a man's or woman's tuxedo, it makes a striking complete evening look. Unfortunately, we don't see nearly enough of the opera coat these days. I hope to rectify that by including an opera coat in every collection I do. Its an essential for me, without which a collection would be incomplete.
Here are some of my favorite stylistas in some of my favorite examples true couture opera coats...
Deeda Blair in Chado Ralph Rucci in 2004
Hamish Bowles at the Met Costume Institute Gala
Andre Talley at the Met Costume Institute Gala