April 17, 2015 § 1 Comment
The Museum at FIT’s exhibit, Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s, closes this Saturday. (See Bridget Foley, “That Real Seventies Show.”) If you can’t make it to New York to see it, a catalogue is available from Yale University Press.
The MFIT exhibit organizes the two designers’ 1970s work in three thematic sections: menswear influence, exoticism, and historicism. Since both Yves Saint Laurent and Halston had licensed sewing patterns in the ’70s, I thought it would be fun to present three pairs of patterns in the exhibition’s format.
From Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue 1143 is a ’70s version of the famous Le smoking. Helmut Newton photographed Charlotte Rampling in a similar, Prince of Wales check pantsuit for Vogue (with original text here):
According to the curators, Halston’s most famous garment is the Ultrasuede shirtdress. McCall’s 4391 is a zip-front shirtdress that includes special instructions for working with synthetic suede:
Yves Saint Laurent’s interest in “exotic,” non-Western dress is perhaps best remembered from his Russian collection (Fall 1976 haute couture). From Vogue’s Ballets Russes patterns, Vogue 1558 is a Russian ensemble consisting of blouse, vest, bias skirt, and braid-trimmed jacket—hat and babushka scarf not included (see more at Paco’s blog):
During the 1970s, both Saint Laurent and Halston showed non-Western influence in their caftans and pajama ensembles. Halston pattern McCall’s 3590 combines both:
Inspired by the 1940s, Yves Saint Laurent’s Spring 1971 haute couture collection, Libération, launched the decade’s vogue for vintage. Although the 1971 collection was poorly received, Saint Laurent’s subsequent vintage-inspired efforts were very influential. From 1973, Vogue 2930 is a Forties-inspired dress-and-coat ensemble:
Halston’s historicism focused on the interwar couture of the 1930s, especially the work of Grès and Vionnet. McCall’s 4046 is a slinky dress for stretchable knits. It has only one main pattern piece and is shaped by gathers and side darts:
As the curators note, Halston and Yves Saint Laurent have been seen as embodying two separate styles: minimalist ready-to-wear vs. fantasy couture. Yet comparison of their work shows how their stylistic experimentation led them to common ground, particularly in the earlier ’70s. Interestingly, some Saint Laurent and Halston garments can be hard to tell apart until you examine the construction—something home sewers can certainly appreciate.
April 5, 2015 § 4 Comments
Born in Munich, celebrity milliner Hans Harberger, a.k.a. Mr. John (1902-1993), founded his New York salon in 1948. (For bio see my earlier post, 25 Jahre Mauerfall; on the complex history of Mr. John’s name and label see my Mad Men-era millinery post, or read his obituary in the Independent.)
Millinery patterns by Mr. John were available from Vogue in the first half of the 1950s. There were also mail-order Mr. John patterns from Spadea and Prominent Designer, as well as garment patterns from Advance. Vogue’s later John-Frederics patterns date to the tenure of Mr. John’s former partner, Frederick Hirst.
From 1952, Vogue 7908 is a cloche with elegant shaped brim. The brim could be worn down or folded up on one side:
Vogue 7909 is a beret that dips to a point on one side, with an optional chin strap:
Vogue 7909 was still available the following year, as seen in this 1953 illustration for Ladies’ Home Journal. The lower two hats are by Mr. John:
Vogue 7961 is a draped cloche, striking in striped fabric:
Vogue 8441 is a shirred, draped turban, recommended for jersey:
From 1955, Vogue 8546 is gathered at the sides into a narrow brim that crosses in the back:
Vogue 8547 is a pill box with front pleat and optional ribbon ties:
In the later 1950s, Mr. John designed six spring hats for Everywoman’s magazine. Carmen (Carmine) Schiavone photographed one of them for the cover of the Easter issue:
The patterns, which were available to readers by mail order, were home-tested by a New York homemaker (click to enlarge):
Many of Mr. John’s hat patterns are available as reproductions on Etsy.
I’ll close with two Vogue covers featuring Mr. John hats:
For more hats by Mr. John, see Kristine/dovima is divine’s set on flickr.
Happy Easter, everyone!
March 17, 2015 § 3 Comments
The London incarnation of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty has just opened at the Victoria and Albert Museum. (See British Vogue on the additions to the Costume Institute show.) Accompanying the exhibition is a full calendar of events, including a two-day conference in early June. The exhibition catalogue by Claire Wilcox is available in hardcover and paperback from the V&A, with a North American edition to be published by Abrams in May.
Several London galleries are hosting related exhibitions. At Proud Galleries, McQueen: Backstage – The Early Shows by Gary Wallis presents Wallis’ behind-the-scenes photographs from McQueen’s early career (to April 5, 2015; book). Tate Britain’s Nick Waplington/Alexander McQueen: Working Process brings together Nick Waplington’s photographs of The Horn of Plenty (FW 2009), recently published in his 2013 book (to May 17, 2015). At the Gallery at Foyles, Inferno: Alexander McQueen – Photographs by Kent Baker will present backstage photographs from Dante (FW 1996) (March 20 to May 3; book). And next month, London College of Fashion’s Fashion Space Gallery will host Warpaint: Alexander McQueen and Make-Up (April 30 to August 7, 2015).
To celebrate the opening of the London retrospective, here’s a roundup of my posts on sewing patterns by Alexander McQueen, both for Givenchy and his own label:
- Alexander McQueen for Givenchy: Vogue Patterns, Part 1 (1997 collections)
- Alexander McQueen for Givenchy: Vogue Patterns, Part 2 (1998 collections)
- Alexander McQueen for Givenchy: Vogue Patterns, Part 3 (1999 collections)
- Free Designer Pattern: Alexander McQueen kimono jacket
- Vogue 2248 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy
- Year of the Snake: Vogue 2086 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, Part 1
March 13, 2015 § 4 Comments
Born Marguerite di Pietro, Marie-Blanche de Polignac (1897-1958) was the only child of Jeanne Lanvin and her first husband, Italian aristocrat Emilio di Pietro. Marie-Blanche (who is sometimes called the Comtesse Jean de Polignac) was director of Lanvin from her mother’s death in 1946 until the appointment of Antonio del Castillo in 1950.
From the earliest Vogue Paris Originals, Vogue 1052 is an elegant, short-sleeved dress with a waistcoat effect:
Clifford Coffin photographed the dress in Paris for Vogue magazine:
According to Vogue, this strapless evening dress design was “sketched by David in Paris.” The caption reads, “Lanvin’s remarkable new evening line. Remarkable for the shape: a buttoned figureline from top of peaked décolletage to knee, then—outrush. Remarkable for the cutting, the angling of seams. Add the authority of ottoman or new satin piqué.” The rhinestone detail became a Marie-Blanche signature (see an earlier example in the collection of the Costume Institute):
Vogue 1078 is a dramatic dress with high roll collar and draped and pleated, asymmetrical overskirt. The surplice bodice belts on the left; it’s actually the slim underskirt that’s separate. The original was made in black faille:
Richard Rutledge photographed the dress for Vogue magazine (with Vogue 1077 by Jacques Fath):
Vogue 1064 is a bloused shirt dress with generous cuffs and stitched belt detail. Vogue called it a “four-season dress.” The cuffs could be made in contrast material:
The original, in black taffeta with pink cuffs, was photographed by Cecil Beaton (with Vogue 1058 by Molyneux):
Vogue 1104 is a pattern for a suit and blouse ensemble. The boxy jacket has detachable cuffs, and the short-sleeved, tie-neck blouse has lovely pleat and seam details in the back:
Here’s a closer look at Norman Parkinson’s photo of the late Bettina in Paris:
Richard Rutledge also photographed Vogue 1107, a formal dress with asymmetrically draped cowl neck and overskirt. The magazine caption reads, “Lanvin’s afternoon and little-dinner dress with an overskirt. The underline, slim, simple; the attached overskirt, fuller, drawn high on one side. One sided too, the cowl neckline. Below it here, a curved spray of embroidery, such as you might add, if you like.” The original was black flat crêpe:
The design shown in colour at the top of this post, Vogue 1120, is a button-front dress with draped bias sleeves and skirt with draped detail created by pleats and darts. Vogue called the design a “late-day coat-dress”:
Vogue 1122 is a bias, wrap-front dress with raised neckline and sleeve variations. A zipper closure is concealed under the right front, and there’s a single, almond-shaped pocket on the right hip:
Instead of the envelope’s location shot, Vogue published a studio photo of the dress:
Marie-Blanche de Polignac ended her directorship of Lanvin with the Fall 1950 couture; Antonio del Castillo’s first collection for Lanvin was the Spring 1951 couture, and during his tenure the house became known as Lanvin-Castillo. But some 1951 patterns still say Lanvin and not Lanvin-Castillo—such as Vogue 1139, an ensemble consisting of a slim dress and cropped, bloused jacket. Henry Clarke photographed Anne Gunning in the shantung original for a May 1951 issue of Vogue magazine:
Next in the series: Antonio del Castillo’s Vogue Paris Originals.
March 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
If you’re in London, you still have a week to see Guy Bourdin: Image Maker at Somerset House before it closes next Sunday.
Bourdin shot only one Vogue Patterns editorial that I know of: a two-page editorial for Vogue magazine in 1966. The young Marisa Berenson models a shift dress and tent coat made from a single pattern, Vogue 6916, accessorized with gloves, fishnet knee socks, and hat by Lilly Daché (click to enlarge):
As always, details could be found in the back of the magazine:
British Vogue later published the same editorial with the layout reversed: see youthquakers.
For more posts in this series, click the Patterns in Vogue tag.
February 21, 2015 § 11 Comments
Caftans, long, loose-fitting tunics with origins in ancient Persia, have been gaining momentum as an alternative to more structured formal dress. With any luck, there will be some caftans among the goddess gowns at tomorrow’s Academy Awards ceremony.
They say Tsarina Alexandra was the first westerner to make a fashion statement in a caftan, when she dressed as a seventeenth-century Tsarina for a costume ball in 1903. Paul Poiret also advanced the caftan cause, but it was not until the 1950s that the garment really began to influence western fashion. Here’s a look at caftan patterns from the 1950s to now.
In the mid-1950s, Christian Dior and Cristóbal Balenciaga’s experiments with silhouette were partly inspired by eastern traditional dress. Dior’s Fall 1955 couture collection (Y line) included caftan-inspired ensembles—coats with high, side-front slits that reveal a slim dress underneath:
You can see echoes of the Dior caftan look in contemporary sewing patterns like McCall’s 3525 and 3532, both from late 1955:
McCall’s 3532, called a “slim caftan-and-dress ensemble,” was featured on the cover of McCall’s news leaflet and in the company’s “Make the Clothes that Make the Woman” advertising campaign. According to the ad, the design is ideal for the season’s “Oriental” fabrics, such as silk twill and raw silk tussah:
Caftans became popular in the 1960s in tandem with the increasing interest in eastern cultures. The Madame Grès version at the top of this post is cut on the bias, producing geometric seaming detail. The caption reads, “Coup of bias-work by Grès—because this piecing-together of bias angles is sinuous, stark, ravishingly Moroccan.”
This dress from Jean Patou by Michel Goma, Vogue 1699, has what the envelope calls a “caftan neckline.” The model is Beate Schulz:
This circa 1968 Vogue caftan pattern has optional flexible trim:
Other patterns from the late 1960s and early 1970s also reference eastern dress. From 1967, McCall’s 9026 is labelled as an abba in two lengths. Abba is an alternate spelling of aba, commonly abaya: a traditional Arab garment, long, loose-fitting, sleeveless, and made from a single rectangle of fabric. (Today, caftans often function as abayat.) The model is Veronica Hamel:
Burnoose patterns were marketed as resort wear. A pompom-trimmed version of McCall’s 2377 was photographed for the cover of McCall’s Summer 1970 catalogue:
Marola Witt models Simplicity’s burnoose in the July 1967 issue of Simplicity Fashion News (thanks to Mary of PatternGate for the reference). The text promotes the design’s ‘Arabian’ exoticism: “be exotic in a JIFFY: … the burnoose, born in Arabia, brought up to date here”:
This Halston caftan pattern from McCall’s also includes a top and pants (you can buy yourself a copy from the shop):
This flowing Dior caftan, modelled by Billie Blair, has lots of neckline detail, full-length sleeve openings, and pockets:
Vogue 1515 by Nina Ricci is a caftan that’s open in front and attached at the neckline to a handkerchief-hemmed underdress:
It’s harder to find post-1970s designer caftan patterns. This wide-sleeved, Oscar de la Renta caftan is trimmed with contrast bands. When worn, the side seams swing forward to raise the hemline in front:
From Issey Miyake, Vogue 2315 is a caftan-inspired summer dress:
Caftan patterns started making a comeback (of sorts) in 2009. Simplicity 2584, a caftan-inspired tunic by Cynthia Rowley, is out of print but still in demand:
Ralph Rucci’s floor-length caftan, Vogue 1181 (now out of print), has an abaya silhouette and interesting construction details—overarm darts, shaped lower sections, and a hook and eye above the low neckline:
The design is from Chado Ralph Rucci Resort 2009:
Matthew Williamson’s short caftan, available as a free pattern from the Guardian, is also a 2009 design:
Would you sew a caftan?
February 17, 2015 § 1 Comment
This month Gareth Pugh celebrates the 10-year anniversary of his label. SHOWstudio is marking the anniversary—and Pugh’s return to London Fashion Week—with an editorial project, Gareth Pugh: 10 Years, and Melissa’s London flagship is hosting a retrospective exhibition of the designer’s work. (See Samantha Conti, “Gareth Pugh Sets London Retrospective.”)
SHOWstudio’s Gareth Pugh Design Download is a pattern for the striped balloon from the designer’s 2003 Central Saint Martins graduation collection. According to the site’s original notes, “Rather than submitting a traditional garment pattern to the design_download series, Gareth Pugh chose to contribute a pattern for a balloon which he had previously created. The bold, red and white striped beach-ball fabric balloons are, like much of Pugh’s designs, inspired by shape, proportion and process.”
As Sarah Mower remarked in her review of the designer’s London Fashion Week debut (Fall 2006 RTW), “Pugh has a thing about balloons.” The red and white version was a recurring motif in his graduation collection and typifies his playful, experimental approach to fashion design.
(Click the above image for more runway looks from this collection.)
Nicola Formichetti, then senior fashion editor at Dazed & Confused, put one of Pugh’s balloon looks on the cover of the magazine:
Download the balloon pattern (7 pieces)
Fabric requirements: approx. 1 meter (1 yd 4″) each of fabric and contrast fabric.
Recommended fabrics: Non-stretch fabrics with a sheen. The originals were made in a thick, non-stretch acetate satin.
Notions: 18” (45 cm) invisible zipper to match contrast fabric, 1 large latex balloon.
Notes: includes 1 cm (approx. 3/8″) seam allowance. The pattern is laid out on A3 sheets, so copy shop printing is recommended.
See the SHOWstudio submissions gallery here.