Paris, je t’aime

November 16, 2015 § 3 Comments

1950s Paquin dress pattern Vogue 1101 photographed in Paris by Norman Parkinson

Vogue 1101 by Paquin, Vogue, May 1950. Model: Maxime de la Falaise. Photo: Norman Parkinson.

In honour of Paris, a selection of postwar fashion photography shot on location in the city.

Vogue’s earliest Paris Originals were photographed in Paris, by Vogue editorial photographers including Clifford Coffin and Norman Parkinson.

In this issue, a new pattern service: Paris Original Models chosen from the collections - Vogue Pattern Book, April/May 1949

Vogue Pattern Book, April/May 1949. Photos: Clifford Coffin.

The eight colour photos were first seen in the March 1st, 1949 issue of Vogue magazine, to announce the new couturier patterns.

1940s Robert Piguet pattern Vogue 1053 photographed in Paris by Clifford Coffin

Vogue 1053 by Robert Piguet, Vogue, March 1949. Photo: Clifford Coffin.

1940s Robert Fath dress pattern Vogue 1055 photographed in Paris by Clifford Coffin

Vogue 1055 by Jacques Fath, Vogue, March 1949. Photo: Clifford Coffin.

1940s Paquin pattern Vogue 1057 photographed in Paris by Clifford Coffin

Vogue 1057 by Paquin, Vogue, March 1949. Photo: Clifford Coffin.

1940s Lanvin dress pattern Vogue 1052 photographed in a Paris museum by Clifford Coffin

Vogue 1052 by Lanvin, Vogue, March 1949. Photo: Clifford Coffin.

1940s Schiaparelli suit pattern Vogue 1051 photographed at les puces by Clifford Coffin

Vogue 1051 by Schiaparelli, Vogue, March 1949. Photo: Clifford Coffin.

Molyneux suit and coat pattern Vogue 1050 photographed by Clifford Coffin at Place St. André des arts

Vogue 1050 by Molyneux, Vogue, March 1949. Photo: Clifford Coffin.

1940s Jacques Heim dress pattern Vogue 1056 photographed in Paris by Clifford Coffin.

Vogue 1056 by Jacques Heim, Vogue, March 1949. Photo: Clifford Coffin.

1940s Pierre Balmain suit pattern Vogue 1054 photographed by Clifford Coffin

Vogue 1054 by Pierre Balmain, Vogue, March 1949. Photo: Clifford Coffin.

(Available as a print from Condé Nast.)

1950s Paquin dress pattern Vogue 1101 photographed in Paris by Norman Parkinson

Vogue 1099 by Jacques Heim, Vogue, May 1950. Photo: Norman Parkinson.

Fur Cloth for Fall

November 10, 2015 § 7 Comments

Anne St. Marie photographed in Vogue 1019,

Anne St. Marie wears Vogue 1019 by Jacques Griffe, Vogue Pattern Book, August/September 1961. Photo: Kazan.

Whether you call it fake or faux, this season’s fur trend is only fashion’s latest take on synthetic fur.

Many vintage sewing patterns call for fur banding and fur cloth. The reversible coat shown above, Vogue 1019 by Jacques Griffe, is fully lined with the latest black, synthetic fox fur. (Hover for full caption.) More recently there’s Donna Karan’s coat for low-pile fake fur, Vogue 1365, from the Fall 2012 collection:

Joan Smalls wears a faux fur coat from Donna Karan FW 2012

Model: Joan Smalls. Image via

Here’s a look at vintage patterns that call for fur trim or fur cloth, with an emphasis on the trendy, unusual, and outrageous.


From Winter 1926, this dolman coat by Martial et Armand has a deep fur collar and narrow fur banding at the cuffs:

1920s Martial et Armand coat McCall 4667 illustrated in the Winter 1926 McCall Quarterly

McCall 4667 by Martial et Armand in McCall Quarterly, Winter 1926-27. Image courtesy of Debby Zamorski.

This opulent, late 1920s evening wrap calls for a length of 4.5″ fur banding. A reproduction is available from EvaDress:

Late 1920s evening wrap pattern - McCall 5945

McCall 5945 (1929) Image via the Vintage Pattern Wiki.


Thirties patterns show many creative uses of fur trim. These two ca. 1933 coats both call for fur cloth accents. McCall 7206 has an attached scarf and contrast lower sleeves, shown in synthetic Persian lamb, while McCall 7207 has a deep fur collar and matching, triangular sleeve patches:

McCall 7206, 7207 Spring 1933 coats

Two coat patterns, McCall 7206 and 7207, illustrated in McCall Fashion Book, Spring 1933.

Simplicity 1541’s dramatic, curving collar and pointed cuffs can be made in contrast fur cloth; the fur-trimmed version was illustrated on the cover of the holiday 1934 issue of Simplicity Pattern Magazine. A reproduction is available from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library:

Via eBay

Simplicity 1541 (1934) Image via eBay.


From the autumn of 1939, McCall 3420 is a swagger coat with built-up neckline and optional, tapered lower sleeves and semi-circular shoulder insets. View A is shown in faux Astrakhan (matching hat unfortunately not included):

1930s coat pattern shown in check or faux Astrakhan - McCall 3420

McCall 3420 (1939)


McCall 3875, a World War 2-era swing coat, can be made with elbow-deep fur cuffs:

1940 coat pattern - McCall 3875

McCall 3875 (1940) Image via the Vintage Pattern Wiki.

This wartime cape pattern, previously featured in my vintage capes post, includes an evening cape with stand-up fur collar:

1940s cape pattern in evening or street length - McCall 4134

McCall 4134 (1941)


High-end postwar sewing patterns sometimes assume natural fur will be used and direct the home dressmaker to a specialist. From November 1949, Vogue 1075 is one of the earliest Balmain patterns. The voluminous “melon” sleeves can be made in fur contrast; the envelope back says, “Note: Have fur sleeves made by furrier”:

1940s Balmain coat pattern - Vogue 1075

Vogue 1075 by Balmain (1949) Image via Etsy.

This Vogue Couturier design includes a wide-necked evening coat with big fur collar and elbow-length sleeves:

1950s evening dress and coat with fur top-collar - Vogue 190

Vogue 190 (1959) Image via Etsy.


From Nina Ricci, Vogue 1217’s cape has a broad shawl collar that can be made in faux fur:

1960s Nina Ricci dress and coat pattern - Vogue 1217

Vogue 1217 by Nina Ricci (1963) Image via Etsy.

Vogue 1897 is a design from Yves Saint Laurent’s Fall/Winter 1967-68 haute couture collection, inspired by Queen Christina (see Paco’s post here). The fur-trimmed evening cape requires a taffeta stay for the fur trim unless made by a furrier:

1960s Yves Saint Laurent Queen Christina evening dress and cape pattern - Vogue 1897

Vogue 1897 by Yves Saint Laurent (1968) Image via the Vintage Pattern Wiki.


David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago (1965) seems to have prompted a fashion for Cossack coats and hats. Vogue-Butterick had Vogue 1983, and McCall’s had this fur-trimmed coat pattern:

1970s red, fur-trimmed coat pattern - McCall's 2676

McCall’s 2676 (1970) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

There was even a pattern for fur hats for men, women, and children, McCall’s 2966:

1970s faux fur hat and bag pattern - McCall's 2966

McCall’s 2966 (1971) Image via eBay.


Eighties excess brought the more-is-more aesthetic to designs for synthetic fur. McCall’s 7736 is a raglan-sleeved jacket for lightweight fake fur or woolens:

1980s jacket pattern - McCall's 7736

McCall’s 7736 (1981) Image via Etsy.

From the Connoisseur Collection, Simplicity 7078 is for fake fur only:

1980s faux fur coat pattern in 2 lengths - Simplicity 7078

Simplicity 7078 (1985) Image via Etsy.

In addition to a hat and stole for fur-like fabrics, accessories pattern Vogue 9981 includes a muff with concealed pocket:

1980s hat, stole, and muff pattern - Vogue 9981

Vogue 9981 (1987) Image via Etsy.


The 1990s were another good time for synthetic fur—so good that Vogue Patterns licensed a designer specializing in faux fur outerwear. Not quite vintage, this reversible coat pattern by Issey Miyake calls for high pile fake fur:

1990s Issey Miyake reversible faux fur coat pattern - Vogue 2182

Vogue 2182 by Issey Miyake (1998) Image via Etsy.

From Alexander McQueen’s Fall 1998 ready-to-wear collection for Givenchy, Vogue 2228’s jacket has a fur-trimmed hem and large, standing fur collar that recalls the 1940s evening cape shown above. (See my earlier McQueen post here.) I have one copy for sale in the shop:

1990s Givenchy fur-trimmed suit pattern by Alexander McQueen - Vogue 2228

Vogue 2228 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy (1998) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Vogue 2233’s fur-trimmed dress and jacket are from Anna Sui’s Fall/Winter 1998 collection (click to purchase from the shop):

1990s Anna Sui fur-trimmed dress & jacket pattern - Vogue 2233

Vogue 2233 by Anna Sui (1998) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Vogue 2233 is one of the most ’90s patterns ever: Björk meets Britpop. The jacket was worn on the runway by Kirsty Hume—hat by James Coviello:

Kirsty Hume on the runway, Anna Sui FW 1998

Kirsty Hume, Anna Sui FW 1998. Image via firstVIEW.

There was also a pattern for Anna Sui faux-fur accessories, Vogue 7950 (see my earlier Anna Sui series).

Tips for sourcing synthetic fur

  • Tissavel: This luxury French faux fur mill is unfortunately now closed, but ends can be found on Etsy.
  • Faux Persian lamb/Astrakhan: Available as a special order from Emma One Sock.
  • Fur banding: Mokuba carries high-quality synthetic fur banding in various widths.

Working with vintage furs and synthetic fur

Vintage patterns often direct the home dressmaker to a furrier; old sewing books and magazines also provide tips for refashioning vintage furs. (Woman’s Day 5045 came with a special instruction booklet and fur needle.) Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide includes a chapter on fur.

For tips on sewing with synthetic fur, see Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide, Fehr Trade’s post, and Shannon Gifford’s post for Emma One Sock.

Another Guy Laroche Pattern by Alber Elbaz?

November 4, 2015 § 6 Comments

Detail of Vogue 2368 by Guy Laroche, possibly by Alber Elbaz

Last week the fashion world was shocked by the news that Alber Elbaz had been dismissed as creative director of Lanvin. (See British Vogue or Bridget Foley for WWD.)

Before his positions at Lanvin and Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Alber Elbaz designed four seasons for Guy Laroche. (Fall 1997 to Spring 1999; see my earlier post here.) The recent news got me thinking about a Guy Laroche pattern that could also be by Elbaz.

Vogue 2368 is so rare that I didn’t see it in time for my first post. It’s a simple, formal design: a sleeveless dress with a big flower at the tucked, asymmetrical neckline:

1990s Guy Laroche cocktail or evening dress pattern by Alber Elbaz? - Vogue 2368

Vogue 2368 by Guy Laroche (1999) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Technical drawing for Vogue 2368 by Guy Laroche

Technical drawing for Vogue 2368

Here’s the envelope description: Semi-fitted, straight, lined, sleeveless dress, below mid-knee or evening length, has neckline tucks, side zipper and back hemline slit. Purchased flower. Recommended fabrics are silk-like crepe, lightweight wool crepe, and satin-backed crepe.

Vogue 2368 was released in late 1999—earlier than Vogue 2497, a design from Elbaz’ Spring 1999 farewell collection for Laroche. It doesn’t match any of the runway looks from Elbaz’ four Laroche collections, but the palette, neckline detail, and especially the flower (an Elbaz signature at Laroche and Lanvin) seem persuasive. What do you think?

15 Oct 1998 --- GUY LAROCHE: SPRING-SUMMER 1999 PRET A PORTER COLLECTION --- Image by © Thierry Orban/Sygma/Corbis

Guy Laroche SS 1999 © Thierry Orban/Sygma/Corbis.

Men's Lanvin flower pin in red wool felt

Lanvin flower pin. Image via LuisaViaRoma.

Men's Lanvin flower pin in fabric and leather

Lanvin flower pin. Image via Mr Porter.

We Can Be Heroes

October 30, 2015 § 8 Comments

Lynda Carter in the Wonder Woman tv show, 1975

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, 1975. Image: Warner Bros./Getty Images via IMDb.

Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman isn’t set to open until 2017, but audiences will get a glimpse of Gal Gadot as the Amazon princess in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). Marvel’s feminist superhero, Captain Marvel (originally Ms. Marvel) will also get her own movie in 2018. (Guardian story here.)

Panel from Ms. Marvel #1 (1977): Onlookers:

Panel from Ms. Marvel #1 (1977). Image via Talking Comics.

Since the 1930s and ’40s, when Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman made their first comic strip appearances, superheroes have occupied a special place in popular culture. The 2008 Costume Institute exhibit, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy, explored the influence of superhero costumes on fashion. (Click for a look inside the book.)

Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy exhibition catalogue by Andrew Bolton (with Michael Chabon)

Andrew Bolton with Michael Chabon, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008) Book design: Abbott Miller, John Kudos at Pentagram. Image via John Kudos.

With Halloween around the corner, here’s a look at licensed superhero costume patterns from the 1960s to today, with a focus on the place of gender in children’s costuming.


In 1966, the Batman television show premiered on ABC; just the year before, the 1950s television series Adventures of Superman, starring George Reeves as the Man of Steel, had returned to the airwaves in syndication.

Robin (Burt Ward) and Batman (Adam West) in Batman (1966) Image via Wikipedia.

From 1966, McCall’s 8398 is a pattern for “Girls’ or Boy’s Batman, Robin and Superman Official Costumes.” The pattern is copyright National Periodical Publications, Inc., an early version of DC Comics:

McCall’s 8398 (1966) Image via Betsy Vintage.

The Fall 1966 McCall’s Home Catalog promoted McCall’s 8398 with McCall’s 8562 as “Magical Costumes for the Wonderful World of Make-Believe.” The text reinforces the idea that these superhero costumes were intended for imaginative, active children, regardless of gender: “Now that active young lad or lass with the vivid imagination can be Batman, Robin or Superman at the switch of a colorful costume. Only McCall’s has official patterns for the costumes of these swashbuckling heroes of comic books and TV…” (click to enlarge):

McCalls Home catalogue, Fall/Winter 1966-67

McCall’s 8398 in McCall’s Home Catalog, Fall-Winter 1966-67.


In 1978, the Wonder Woman TV series was still running, and December saw the release of the first Superman movie starring Christopher Reeve.

Christopher Reeve as Superman, 1978

Christopher Reeve as Superman, 1978. Image: Keystone/Getty Images via IMDb.

That year, Simplicity released two patterns for children’s superhero costumes: Simplicity 8714, Batman, Robin, and Superman costumes for children and boys, and Simplicity 8720, Catwoman, Batgirl, and Wonder Woman costumes for girls. (‘Child’ often refers to unisex pattern sizing for younger children.) The introduction of female superhero costumes seems to have prompted a sex-division on the pattern envelopes—although the categories could always be subverted by individual children and their parents:

1970s children's Batman, Robin, and Superman costume pattern - Simplicity 8714

Simplicity 8714 (1978)

1970s Catwoman, Wonder Woman, and Batgirl costume pattern - Simplicity 8720

Simplicity 8720 (1978)


Later official superhero patterns tend to be movie or TV tie-ins. As in contemporary popular culture, the balance shifts toward male superheroes, but there’s also an oscillation between strict gender categories and more inclusive costuming. The 1980s were the decade of Superman and Supergirl: Supergirl opened in 1984, and there were three more Superman movies ending with Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).

Helen Slater as Supergirl, 1984

Helen Slater as Supergirl, 1984. Image via Pinterest.

In 1987, Butterick released two superhero patterns, both with iron-on transfers: a Superman and Supergirl play suit for small children (sizes 2 to 6X), and a Superman costume for men and boys. I couldn’t find a corresponding women’s and girls’ Supergirl pattern. The small children’s is a pyjama or jogging suit-style top and pants for stretch knits, with separate cape and skirt; the men’s and boys’ is a spandex stirrup jumpsuit and briefs:

Butterick 5862 (1987) Image via Etsy.

1980s Superman costume pattern - Butterick 5874

Butterick 5874 (1987)

(With thanks to Jan Lamm.)

Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) launched a new superhero franchise. Late 1980s Batman pattern Butterick 4201/6313, for men and boys, appears to have been timed to the Tim Burton film, but reflects the now-retro Batman. Like the Butterick Superman, it’s also a stirrup jumpsuit and briefs for spandex blends:

1980s Batman costume pattern - Butterick 6313

Butterick 6313 (1989) Image via Etsy.


Butterick licensed costumes from Batman Returns (1992) and Batman Forever (1995): Batman, Catwoman, and the Penguin, and Batman, Robin, and the Riddler. The Batman costumes reflect the movies’ increasingly hypermasculine armour, while Catwoman’s sexy, home-sewn catsuit is the only design for women and girls.

Batman Returns Batman costume pattern - Butterick 6377

Butterick 6377 (1992) Image via Etsy.

Batman Forever Batman costume pattern - Butterick 4172

Butterick 4172 (1995) Image via Etsy.

Butterick 6378 official Batman Returns Catwoman costume (1992) Image via Etsy.

Maybe because the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aren’t human, this Ninja Turtles pattern is gender-inclusive, labelled as for both girls and boys. The design is called a playsuit, not a costume (click the image for envelope back, or see it made up on flickr):

Girls' and boys' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle playsuit pattern - Butterick 5143

Butterick 5143 (1990) Image via Etsy.

On the other hand, this Captain Planet pattern for children and boys includes a grotesque ‘muscle’ suit. The second character is called Verminous Skumm:

1990s Captain Planet and Verminous Skumm costume pattern - McCall's 5642

McCall’s 5642 (1991) Image via Etsy.

’90s costume patterns start to show the influence of Japanese television shows—Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Masked Rider, and Sailor Moon. This Sailor Moon costume pattern came in children’s and girls’ sizes:

McCalls 7859

McCall’s 7859/P310 (1995) Image via eBay.

Marvel doesn’t seem to have ventured into pattern licensing until the 1990s, when Simplicity’s children’s costume patterns were gender-inclusive. Simplicity 7543 is a child’s Spiderman costume with sleeve webs made from fishnet:

1990s children's Spiderman costume pattern - Simplicity 7543

Simplicity 7543 (1991) Image via eBay.

Before the X-Men and Spider-Man movie franchises of the 2000s, there were ’90s animated TV shows based on the comics: X-Men from 1992 and Spider-Man from 1994. In the mid-1990s, Simplicity released several more Marvel patterns, all labelled as unisex Child’s costumes: Spider-Man and Venom (Simplicity 7241), Wolverine and Storm (Simplicity 7246), and Cyclops and Magneto (Simplicity 7251). Wolverine and Storm is my favourite:

1990s X-Men costume pattern - Wolverine and Storm - Simplicity 7246

Simplicity 7246 (1996) Image via Pinterest.

Current patterns

This fall, Simplicity released five licensed costume patterns for Marvel and DC superheroes. The women’s DC costumes are featured on the cover of the Halloween catalogue: Wonder Woman (Simplicity 1024) with Batgirl and Supergirl (Simplicity 1036):

Saturday Spooktacular! Simplicity costumes for Halloween 2015

Simplicity Costumes 2015. Image via Simplicity.

Women's Wonder Woman costume pattern - Simplicity 1024

Simplicity 1024 (2015)

The women’s costumes match those of the comic-book characters, but for the corresponding children’s pattern (Simplicity 1035), all three costumes have been altered to become knee-length, long-sleeved dresses. Batgirl loses her catsuit and Wonder Woman is virtually unrecognizable. What message does this send to children comparing the comic-book illustrations on the envelopes?

Simplicity 1035 (2015) Image via Etsy.

The two Marvel patterns, Captain America (Simplicity 1030) and Thor (Simplicity 1038), have a different format. Both from Marvel’s Avengers, the adults’ and children’s sizes share the same envelope, which includes an illustration of the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America down the left-hand side and a superimposed image of the pattern pieces with the text Sew It Yourself. Both are labelled as boys’ and men’s. The Thor should really be unisex if he’s now a woman:

Marvel Avengers Captain America costume pattern - Simplicity 1030/0225

Simplicity 1030/0225 (2015) Image via eBay.

(S0225 is the advance version; the S1030 envelope seems to have some strange retouching of the man’s crotch.)

Marvel Avengers Thor costume pattern - Simplicity 1038

Simplicity 1038 (2015) Image via Etsy.

It’s great to see Wonder Woman making a comeback, and the increasing popularity of costuming means we’re likely to see more licensed superhero patterns in the near future. Here’s hoping there will be a Black Widow or Mystique—and it’s not a dress.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Simplicity 8720 detail

(For more see Dorian Lynskey, Kapow! Attack of the feminist superheroes, and Jill Lepore, The Last Amazon.)

* As I wrote this post, spellcheck failed to recognize the names of female superheroes. Please fix this, WordPress!

More Bob Mackie Patterns

October 18, 2015 § 4 Comments

Cher in Bob Mackie on the cover of TIME magazine, 1975

Cher in Bob Mackie, TIME magazine, March 17, 1975. Photo: Richard Avedon. Image via TIME.

Speaking of Bob Mackie, I found some more Bob Mackie patterns from McCall’s.

Unhelpfully for collectors, vintage designer patterns were sometimes printed without the name on the envelope. This is the case with three Bob Mackie patterns, which were released earlier than those in my first Bob Mackie post. Like the other Mackie patterns, these three are also for stretch knits.

McCall’s 6575 and 6576 are slinky, disco halter dresses:

1970s Bob Mackie dress pattern - McCall's 6575

McCall’s 6575 by Bob Mackie (1979) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

1970s Bob Mackie dress pattern - McCall's 6576

McCall’s 6576 by Bob Mackie (1979) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

McCall’s 6577 is a pattern for a disco coverup, bodysuit, skinny pants, and handkerchief skirt. The contrast sash is also included:

McCall’s 6577 by Bob Mackie (1979) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Contemporary buyers would have ordered these designs from a catalogue complete with photos and the Bob Mackie logo, like this counter catalogue from September 1979 (click to enlarge):

McCall's 6600 by DD Dominick and McCall's 6575 by Bob Mackie in McCall's catalogue, September 1979

Designs by DD Dominick and Bob Mackie in McCall’s catalogue, September 1979. Image via eBay.

Bob Mackie patterns McCall's 6577 and 6576 in McCall's catalogue for September 1979

Bob Mackie designs in McCall’s catalogue, September 1979. Image via eBay.

Make with strategically placed sequins for the full Cher effect…

Star Wars Costume Patterns

October 9, 2015 § 7 Comments


Trisha Biggar, Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars (Abrams, 2005) Image via Abrams.

Anticipation is high for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which opens in December. For fans of costume design, it helps that Michael Kaplan, who began his career with Bob Mackie and Blade Runner (1982), is designing the costumes for the new film. (Read Vanity Fair’s post here.) Here’s a look at Star Wars costume patterns.

Star wars couture 3

“Star Wars Couture,” Vogue, April 1999. Model: Audrey Marnay. Photo: Irving Penn. Fashion editor: Phyllis Posnick. Image via the Fashion Spot.

Star Wars’ costumes must be among the most discussed in cinema. In 2005, LA’s Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) organized the exhibit Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars, accompanied by a book by Trisha Biggar, the costume designer for the prequel trilogy (Abrams, 2005; still in print). Last year saw the publication of Brandon Alinger’s Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy (Chronicle Books, 2014). And a new travelling exhibit, Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars and the Power of Costume, will open in New York next month.


John Mollo’s final sketch for the costume of Obi-Wan Kenobi, 1976. Image: Alinger/Chronicle Books.


John Mollo’s design for the samurai warrior concept of Darth Vader, 1976. Image: Alinger/Chronicle Books.

John Mollo’s costumes for Star Wars, which won an Academy Award in 1978, have immortalized a certain strand of ’70s style. Compare Princess Leia’s iconic hooded dress with a 1976 Dior evening gown available as a Vogue pattern; both were made in white silk crepe de chine:

Left: Karen Bjornson in Vogue 1553 by Dior, Vogue Patterns, November/December 1976. Photo: Chris von Wangenheim. Right: Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. Image via PatternVault on Twitter.

(I’ve made the Dior in red; photos coming soon.)

The year after The Empire Strikes Back (1980), McCall’s began releasing children’s costume patterns licensed with Lucasfilm.

McCall’s 7772 includes costumes for five characters from the first two films: Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Yoda, Jawa, and Lord Darth Vader. The Vader view calls for one single serving cereal box. I have several sizes available in the shop:

Vintage 1980s licensed Star Wars pattern - McCall's 7772

McCall’s 7772 (1981) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

After Return of the Jedi (1983), McCall’s released a children’s pattern for Ewok costumes. And not just any Ewok: the envelope back names “Wicket the Ewok”:

1980s children's Ewok costume pattern - McCalls 8731

McCall’s 8731 (1983) Image via Etsy.

In the 1990s, Butterick took over the Lucasfilm licensing. Butterick 5174 and 5175, official Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker costumes for adults and children, included an order form for the wig and light sabre:

1990s Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker pattern - Butterick 5174

Butterick 5174 (1997) Image via Etsy.

1990s children's Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia pattern - Butterick 5175

Butterick 5175 (1997) Image via Etsy.

Butterick also released two official Darth Vader costume patterns for children and adults. Butterick 5176 and 5186 included instructions for breastplate appliqués made from coloured, foam sheet remnants, and an order form for the helmet and light sabre:

1990s boy's Darth Vader costume pattern - Butterick 5176

Butterick 5176 (1997) Image via Etsy.

1990s men's Darth Vader costume pattern - Butterick 5186

Butterick 5186 (1997) Image via Etsy.

There were only unofficial costume patterns based on the prequel trilogy. The year of Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), McCall’s released McCall’s 2433, a “Space Nomads” pattern for adults and children with a version of Sith warrior Darth Maul:

McCalls 2433

McCall’s 2433 (1999) Image via Etsy.

Based on costumes from Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), Simplicity 4433 includes Padmé Amidala’s combat suit, which doubles as an Aayla Secura costume (but two-sleeved and without the headpiece):

Andrea Schewe women's Star Wars combat pattern - Simplicity 4433

Simplicity 4433 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Image via Etsy.

Although Padmé’s Peacock dress was cut from Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), it was widely seen in promotional materials for the film:

Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) in the Peacock dress

Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) in the Peacock dress. Image via Pinterest.

Andrea Schewe produced two versions of the Peacock dress and headddress for children and adults, Simplicity 4426 and Simplicity 4443. The adults’ pattern includes both Padmé and Princess Leia, while the children’s has Leia, Padmé, and young Anakin and Obi-Wan:

Padmé, Leia, Anakin, and Jedi costume pattern - Simplicity 4426

Simplicity 4426 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Image via Etsy.

Women's Padmé and Leia costume pattern - Simplicity 4443

Simplicity 4443 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Image via Etsy.

Men’s costume pattern Simplicity 4450/059 includes Anakin and Obi-Wan Jedi costumes, together with an unidentifiable warlock:

Anakin Skywalker, Jedi tunic and cloak pattern - Simplicity 4450/0579

Simplicity 4450/0579 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Image via Etsy.

Based on Padmé Amidala’s nightgown in Revenge of the Sith, McCall’s 4995 is a dress with boned bodice, separate drape, chain or bead trim, and tassels made with three sizes of beads:

McCalls 4995 (2005)

McCall’s 4995 (2005) Image via eBay.

Now that Disney owns Lucasfilm, perhaps there will be more licensed Star Wars patterns…

Update: Irving Penn’s 1999 editorial was not the first Star Wars-themed shoot in Vogue magazine: see Ishimuro’s “The ‘Force’ of Fur” in Vogue, November 1977. (Thanks to Devorah Macdonald for the reference.)

Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma in Vanity Fair, June 2015. Photo: Annie Leibovitz. Image via Vanity Fair.

Zandra Rhodes: Style Patterns

September 24, 2015 § 3 Comments

Zandra Rhodesand Rembrandt's Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet, 2014

Zandra Rhodes and Rembrandt’s portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet, 2014. Image via the National Gallery.

Last week, Zandra Rhodes returned to London Fashion Week for her Spring 2016 collection. Famous for her colourful, hand-drawn prints, the bohemian cult favourite is also new to Vogue Patterns for Winter/Holiday 2015: Vogue 1472 is the first new Zandra Rhodes sewing pattern in thirty years. (Update: read a profile in Vogue Patterns magazine.) For knitters, the current issue of Rowan Knitting & Crochet has a Zandra Rhodes jacket pattern available as a free download.

Zandra Rhodes sketch with yarn charts and sample garment - Rowan 58 (Winter 2015)

Zandra Rhodes sketch with yarn charts and sample garment in Katy Bevan, “Dame Zandra’s Knitting Circle” in Rowan Knitting & Crochet 58 (Winter 2015). Image via Rowan.

Born in Chatham, Kent, Zandra Rhodes (b. 1940) trained as a textile designer at Medway College of Art, where her mother was a lecturer, and London’s Royal College of Art. Rhodes founded her own label in order to build garments around her prints. Her first, 1969 collection, Knitted Circle, was famously worn by Natalie Wood in Vogue magazine; the evening coat is now in the collection of the V&A:

Natalie Wood wears a screen-printed felt evening coat and silk chiffon dress, both by Zandra Rhodes. Vogue, January 1970. Photo: Gianni Penati. Image via Youthquakers.

Rhodes became known as the Princess of Punk following her Spring 1977 torn and safety-pinned Conceptual Chic collection, which was partly inspired by Schiaparelli’s Tears dress.

Wedding dress and dress from Zandra Rhodes' Spring 1977 collection

A wedding dress and dress from Zandra Rhodes’ Spring 1977 collection at the PUNK: Chaos to Couture exhibit, 2014. Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

By the 1980s Rhodes was designing for Princess Diana. The princess wore this pink chiffon dress, embellished with crystal beads and pearl droplets, during her 1986 state visit to Japan (now in the collection of Historic Royal Palaces):

Zandra Rhodes sketch for Princes Diana. Image via SDNews.

In 1985, Style Patterns released a handful of Zandra Rhodes sewing patterns. Rhodes was among the first designers to be included in the company’s short-lived designer line. (See my earlier posts on Bruce Oldfield and Frederick Fox.)

Style 4399 is a pattern for a wedding or evening dress in two lengths with characteristic serated frill:

1980s Zandra Rhodes formal dress pattern - Style 4399

Style 4399 by Zandra Rhodes (1985) Image via Etsy.

Style 4399 schematic

Back view for Style 4399 (1985)

Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Lined Wedding Dress or Evening Dress in Two Lengths — Dress has shoulder yoke with serrated frill and pointed cape effect on bodice. Skirt has elasticated waistline. Model 1 bead trim is used on yoke and neck tie. Suggested fabrics: Lightweight silk types, crepe de chine, chiffon, shantung, lace, voile, batiste, organza. Lining: Jap silk, crepe de chine. Trim: wide ribbon and pearl beading or narrow ribbon.

Style 4400 is an off-the-shoulder wedding or bridesmaid’s dress with separate petticoat:

1980s Zandra Rhodes formal dress pattern - Style 4400

Style 4400 by Zandra Rhodes (1985)

Style 4400 schematic

Technical drawing for Style 4400 (1985)

The envelope description reads: Misses’ Half-Lined Wedding Dress or Bridesmaid’s Dress and Petticoat — Dress has flounced bodice with elasticated waist. Skirt has layered net frills, with gathered net and ribbon trim. Bride and bridesmaid’s dress has petticoat in fabric and net. Suggested fabrics: Dress, Models 1 and 2: Organza, voile, silk or synthetic sheers, lightweight lace. Lining: silk types, taffeta, satin (nap irrelevant). Net or tulle: silk, nylon. Trim: wide ribbon, sequin trim, narrow ribbon.

The third dress design, Style 4400, has a low back décolletage and multi-tiered skirt:

1980s Zandra Rhodes dress pattern - Style 4495

Style 4495 by Zandra Rhodes (1985)

Style 4495 schematic

Technical drawing for Style 4495 (1985)

You can see the same pattern with updated envelope here.

Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Dress in Two Lengths — Dress has fitted bodice with elasticated waistline. Models 1 and 3 have bodice frill to waistline. Model 2 has shorter bodice frill. Models 1 and 2 have four-tiered skirt flounce. Model 3 has three-tiered skirt flounce. Suggested fabrics: Chiffon, georgette, voile, silk or synthetic sheers, organza. Also: lightweight lining fabric. Trim: wide ribbon; pearl trim (views 1 and 2).

The designs seem to be from Rhodes’ Spring 1985 collection, Images of Woman:

Zandra Rhodes SS1985 a

Zandra Rhodes Spring/Summer 1985 collection. Image via UCA Library.

Zandra Rhodes SS1985 b

Zandra Rhodes Spring/Summer 1985 collection. Image via UCA Library.

The trim and fabric specifications are catalogues of girliness: lightweight, floaty fabrics to be trimmed with the ribbon, sequins, and pearls. I love how Style 4495 suggests lining fabric as an alternative—perhaps with a budget-conscious youth market in mind.

For more on Zandra Rhodes, see the V&A’s article.


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