Chanteuse Shirt

Some silky rayon to counteract all the expedition cloth, this shirt was offered Fall/Holiday ’86-’87, variously in khaki, ivory, wine, black and sage.

This shirt is discussed (but not named) by Patrica Ziegler in the Wild Company memoir. “Whenever we passed through Paris, a must-stop was the flea market at Porte de Clignancourt—officially called Les Puces de Saint-Ouen but known to everyone as Les Puces (the Fleas). There we found a shirt of cool blue. The two patch pockets, cuffs, and collar were handstitched at the edges. It draped over my arm like fine silk. I checked the label: men’s S, cotton and rayon, made in the U.S.A. Not natural, not French, but we bought it anyway. I wore it out to dinner that night with my Serengeti Skirt, feeling a bit of a traitor to my natural-fiber credo, but I was smitten. “So make it in cotton,” Mel said. “Won’t drape the same,” I answered glumly. “Well, what is rayon anyway?” and he looked it up. Turns out, rayon is a seminatural fiber manufactured from cellulose. That was enough to ease my conscience.”

From the catalogue: “The woman in the fedora leaned conspiratorially across the little table. “You must remember this,” she whispered. (Actually, she said “zis.”) “A shirt is just a shirt. You put it on one arm at a time, n’est-ce-pas? And you button it up ze front, comme ca. But zis shirt–ahhh.” She smiled her world-weary smile and trailed carmine fingertips over the silky rayon twill of her sleeve. “Zis is not only a shirt. It is a rendezvous on ze Orient Express, a Piaf song in a smoky little boite, a border crossing at midnight…with no documents. Vous savez?” We savvied. And thought, privately, that it’s also a shirt that makes a woman look capable of picking up the tab at Tour d’Argent. Which is just what we let her do.”

Sage version from an Etsy listing.

Pictures below from a September 2020 ebay auction.

Black version courtesy Julie Higginbotham

About The Author

Robyn Adams
Robyn's fascination with Banana Republic began in 1984 when her Alaskan adventurer father began buying the clothing and giving her the catalogs. She loved the clothes and as an artist she was drawn to the illustrations. She went on to study illustration at art college in BR's hometown of San Francisco and worked for years as a background artist for animation. She is now based in Oakland, CA as a graphic designer and illustrator with Secret Fan Base . She's been collecting and archiving at Abandoned Republic since 2011.

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