Cotton twill, silk, glazed cotton, printed cotton velvet lining
This gentleman’s banyan is Indian in origin, although you can also see the influences of Persian and Asian fashions. The traditional banyan, or Indian nightgown, is cut like a coat with fitted set-in sleeves and button fastening.
It was worn casually at home as a dressing gown or as an informal coat over the shirt and breeches, and was usually accessorised with a turban or soft cap in place of a formal wig.
Surviving garments from the 18th and 19th centuries show that it changed little over time, other than to loosely reflect the fashionable line of menswear of the period in the cut of the skirts, choice of collar and fit of the body.
The cotton velvet lining of this banyan is in a leopard print. Fabrics imitating animal patterns and colours appeared in European fashionable dress as early as the 18th century, when elaborate trompe l’oeil silk designs emulated exotic furs intertwined with expensive laces. Such fabrics communicated a sense of luxury, wealth and power.
Animal prints and skins are traditionally thought to convey power to the wearer. Graceful and powerful hunters, the leopard print is suggestive of cunning and instinct. Unsurprising then that leopard print has remained popular since the 19th century for both male and female fashions.