French vs English Hussars ‘pelisse’ tunics, although very similar in style, exhibit little continental differences, an extra swirl in the braid, astrakan trim, different buttons and intricate frogging. Our cross Channel cousins example has a certain panache, originally all black (of course) some of the braid has now faded to green, and the back calligraphy would make even Jimi Hendrix* jealous. The English version, an 11th Hussar’s Lieutenants tunic, tailored by Stohwasser & Co., exudes a certain ceremonial swagger, replete with heavy wire gold braid, in knots and swags, and a regal red satin lining.
* French Hussars Tunic.
Both however share the same genetic traits of 18th century Hussars jackets from middle Europe, when Prussian and Austro-Hungarian cavalry wore these distinctive short Dolman jackets, usually trimmed with fur and decorated with Tyrolean braid knots. Friendly rivalries aside these subtle design differences betray a long and lethal history, but are still undeniably beautiful.
* English Hussars Tunic.
*The Hussars tunic famously worn by Jimi Hendrix, became almost a trademark of his on and off stage. In fact the late 60s saw a renaissance of this style of military tailoring, fitting with the hippy style of the time, the leading exponent being the I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet boutique on Portobello Road. It is also worth noting the film of The Charge of the Light Brigade came out in 1968, and features a dashing young David Hemmings sporting the look.
Words Simon/photos of Tunics – Nic Shonfeld