Mondrian! Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent

April 15, 2012 § 11 Comments

Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent

Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent (1966) Model: Merle Lynn. Photo: Richard Dormer. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Vogue 1556, a shift dress by Yves Saint Laurent, is a design from the Fall 1965 ‘Mondrian’ collection. (See my post on the Mondrian collection patterns here.) Of the five designs Richard Dormer photographed for the February/March 1966 issue of Vogue Pattern Book, Vogue 1556 is the only one shown in colour, showing off the Florence Knoll chair in the background. When I found a copy of the pattern in my size, it went to the top of my to-sew list.

The envelope description reads: One-piece dress. Shift dress with wide contrasting yoke and hem band has long sleeves slightly gathered into contrasting band cuffs. The original was made in four-ply silk crêpe from Onondaga.

The dress can be made in cocktail or evening length. I decided to make the cocktail-length version illustrated on the envelope back, a monochrome dress with sequin contrast:

Sequin contrast dress illustration Vogue 1556 back 1960s

Vogue 1556 (1966) Illustration from envelope back.

I found a black wool crêpe and Bemberg lining at Designer Fabrics, and some fabulous square-sequinned fabric on sale at Fabricland. The pattern went together like a dream. The only adjustment I made was to let the hips out a bit and widen the hem band accordingly. Luckily the hem and sleeves were just the right length without any adjustment. Underlining gives the dress that typical Sixties weight; I also used the Bemberg lining to underline the sequin fabric, but I think it could have benefited from something a little heavier.

The dress fastens in the back with two separate closures: a lapped zipper for the body of the dress and buttons or snaps for the yoke. I had a lot of fun putting in my first lapped zipper. The pattern gives special instructions for the sequinned version of the dress: snaps for the upper back instead of buttons. I recommend using sturdy snaps—the light ones I used are prone to popping open.

As special fabrics go, sequins are fairly high-maintenance. The sequins needed to be removed from all seam allowances and their attaching threads caught by the stitching. This could be challenging when hand-sewing the backs of the contrast bands, but the results are worth it, I think.

Readers of We Sew Retro may have seen the photos of Vogue 1556 that Naomi took for my interview back in December. Since the original Vogue Pattern Book Yves Saint Laurent editorial was shot in the Knoll showroom in Paris, I arranged to photograph my Vogue 1556 dress in Knoll’s Toronto showroom. The new showroom is in a converted warehouse in Liberty Village (more details on the LEED-certified space here). It was a pleasure to spend a winter afternoon in their industrial space full of Knoll textiles and furniture:

Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent, Knoll Toronto

On a wall near the entrance is a quote from Florence Knoll on architecture and interior design (I’m sitting on an Eero Saarinen Womb chair):

Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent with Knoll chair

We couldn’t leave without photographing the dress beside a Florence Knoll lounge chair:

Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent with Florence Knoll lounge chair

We took too many photos of Knoll chairs to include here, but here’s just one more:

Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent, Knoll Toronto

We loved this textiles display featuring upholstered dots:

Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent with Knoll textiles

This last photo was taken by the showroom entrance:

Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent with Knoll sign reflection

A big thank you to the Knoll staff for welcoming us into their showroom. Special thanks to photographer and friend Rachel O’Neill for her fantastic work.

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