Schiaparelli Patterns, Part 1

January 22, 2014 § 10 Comments

Guinevere Van Seenus in vintage 1930s Schiaparelli, Vogue, May 2012. Photo: Steven Meisel. Image via vogue.com.

Have you heard? The house of Schiaparelli, founded by the legendary Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) and dormant since 1954, has been revived.

Schiaparelli label, summer 1938 - 21 place vendôme Paris

Schiaparelli label, 1938. Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Last year Christian Lacroix presented a one-off couture collection for the house, and this week the new head designer, Marco Zanini, presented his first Schiaparelli collection at the Paris couture. (See the Spring 2014 collection on style.com, or read W’s coverage of Zanini’s appointment here.)

Christian Lacroix sketch for his Schiaparelli collection. Image via Fashion Loving.

The opening look in Marco Zanini’s debut collection for Schiaparelli. Model: Stella Tennant. Image via style.com.

The high-profile revival follows the Costume Institute’s major 2012 exhibition, Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations (see my earlier post here). And, timed to coincide with couture week, an auction of Schiaparelli’s personal collection takes place Thursday at Christie’s Paris:

Schiaparelli Christies

Collection personnelle d’Elsa Schiaparelli. Image via Christie’s.

Many of you will be aware of Schiaparelli’s licensed sewing patterns, since she was among the first designers of Vogue Paris Originals. There were also Schiaparelli knitting patterns. If you knit, you can download a free pattern for Schiaparelli’s 1927 Bowknot sweater, updated by Lisa Stockebrand (Ravelry page here):

Douglas Pollard illustration of Schiaparelli's bowknot sweater, Vogue, December 1927

Bowknot sweater by Elsa Schiaparelli, Vogue, December 15, 1927. Illustration: Douglas Pollard.

Like Vionnet, Schiaparelli also saw commercial sewing patterns for her designs in the interwar period, released by companies including the McCall Pattern Company, Pictorial Review, and the Paris Pattern Company. Here is a selection of early Schiaparelli patterns.

This McCall pattern is the earliest Schiaparelli pattern I’ve seen. Dating to the autumn of 1929, it’s a pattern for a blouse, skirt, and coat with angled pockets. It was still shown in a 1930 catalogue:

1920s Schiaparelli pattern - McCall 5839

McCall 5839 by Schiaparelli in the McCall catalogue, 1930. Image via echopoint.

Here is the illustration of McCall 5839 in McCall’s magazine:

1920s Schiaparelli sewing pattern - McCall 5839

McCall 5839 by Schiaparelli. McCall’s magazine, October 1929. Illustration: Blanche Rothschild.

This Schiaparelli pattern from the Paris Pattern Company has some unusual details. The wrap skirt buttons diagonally across the hips and has two slits through which the blouse’s attached scarf can pass, for a suspender effect:

Paris 1647

Paris Pattern 1647 by Schiaparelli (c. 1931)

McCall 6981 is a three-piece suit consisting of a jacket, cropped pussy-bow blouse, and sleeveless, bias dress:

1930s Schiaparelli sewing pattern - McCall 6981

McCall 6981 by Schiaparelli (1932)

Here’s an illustration of this design (centre, no. 14) in the summer 1932 issue of McCall Fashion Bi-Monthly. Elsewhere it calls McCall 6981 a “trick” ensemble, since the blouse and jacket disguise a dress suitable for tennis:

McCallBiMonthlyJulAug1932

McCall Fashion Bi-Monthly, July/August 1932. Image via carbonated on flickr.

This Benito illustration for Vogue shows a similar Schiaparelli ensemble, worn with a tomato red Sicilian cap:

Schiaparelli beige suit, blue blouse and Sicilian cap; pink jacket and brown skirt, Vogue, May 1, 1932. Illustration: Eduardo García Benito. Image via Corbis.

This Pictorial Review Schiaparelli adaptation dates to late 1933. The dress has interesting details like shoulder flanges, diagonal waist darts, and inverted darts radiating from the neckline:

PR 6764

Pictorial Review 6764 adapted from Schiaparelli (c. 1933) Image via Best Vintage Patterns.

Here’s the catalogue illustration for Pictorial Review 6764:

PR6764illus

Illustration of Pictorial Review 6764 (c. 1933) Image via Best Vintage Patterns.

Paris Pattern 2286, illustrated in my 1934 Paris and Style Patterns booklet, is a jaunty ensemble consisting of a coat, skirt, and jacket blouse. The description reads, “A superb town and country suit. Just the thing for that week end vacation. Top coat can be worn over any dress. The skirt and jacket blouse make an ideal spectator costume”:

1930s Paris Pattern by Schiaparelli

Paris Pattern 2286 by Schiaparelli. Paris and Style Patterns leaflet, June 1934.

Also in this leaflet is the Schiaparelli dress and capelet ensemble available as a reproduction from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library. The dress has shoulder yokes, puffed sleeves, and a skirt with pointed set-in panels and pair of buttons at the waist; the matching capelet is trimmed with pleating and buttons to the skirt front. Thanks to owner Deirdre Duggan for providing a scan of the envelope:

1930s Schiaparelli sewing pattern - Paris Pattern 2301

Paris Pattern 2301 by Schiaparelli (c. 1934) Image courtesy of the Vintage Pattern Lending Library.

Finally, from McCall’s, this Schiaparelli dinner dress in two lengths dates to winter 1936-37. The bodice back extends into sleeves that are gathered into a heart-shaped bodice:

1930s Schiaparelli dinner dress pattern - McCall 9076

McCall 9076 by Schiaparelli (1936) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The pattern is illustrated in the January 1937 issue of McCall’s magazine, which made much of the new, street-length hemline:

McCall Jan1937 Schiap

McCall’s magazine, January 1937. Image via eBay.

Schiaparelli patterns from between the wars tend to lack the surrealist touches we associate with the designer, since many of these were based on couture embellishment, accessories, or notions. (Cricket buttons, anyone?) I remember reading a contemporary 1930s article that said Schiaparelli pieces were so simple, they were too easy to copy. Today one might say it’s her brand of dynamic severity that makes her clothes seem so modern.

Bonus: The Art Deco Society of California has posted instructions for Schiaparelli’s “Mad Cap” (via What Would Nancy Drew Wear?).

Next: Schiaparelli’s postwar Vogue Paris Originals.

Twenties Swimsuit – Simplicity 7041 (VFL 145)

November 9, 2013 § 14 Comments

Simplicity 7041

Simplicity 7041 (ca. 1929) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

I love vintage swimwear. (See my post on vintage beachwear patterns here.) It’s also been years since I had a bathing suit; somehow I can never make myself shop for one. So I resolved to make a vintage swimsuit using the Vintage Fashion Library’s reproduction of Simplicity 7041, VFL 145.

Based on the envelope design and that of the consecutively numbered Simplicity 7042, a lingerie set with bloomers, I would date the pattern to circa 1929. (On the development of the 1920s swimsuit see Bomber Girl’s post here.)

These two George Hoyningen-Huene photos of Patou swimsuits from the late ’20s served as reference and inspiration for me:

Wool swimsuit by Jean Patou, ca. 1928. Photo: George Hoyningen-Huene.

Wool swimsuit by Jean Patou, ca. 1928. Photo: George Hoyningen-Huene. Image via Corbis.

Model in Jean Patou swimsuit. Photo: George Hoyningen-Huene.

Model in Jean Patou swimsuit, ca. 1929. Photo: George Hoyningen-Huene. Image via Corbis.

The original pattern instructions give a charming description: “7041: Style for chic and for good swimming. It has a smart belted waistline, buttoned shoulder straps, and a round neckline. Style 1: A one-piece suit for the very active swimmer who demands plenty of freedom. Style 2: A two-piece suit which looks well on the taller woman. With deep V-back.” The pointed, lapped lower bodice seam is a nice Deco detail, which could be brought out further by making the attached shorts in a contrasting fabric.

I made the one-piece with scoop back. I found some lightly textured, black swimwear fabric on sale at King Textiles’ old location, with matching white fabric for a contrast belt. To face the upper bodice and belt I used tricot interfacing/lining from Designer Fabrics, where I also got some plain 1″ buttons. The 1.5″ belt buckle is from Leather & Sewing Supply Depot (now at 204 Spadina).

I needed to grade down the repro’s B38 to fit me. Even then I had to take in the suit at the upper side seams. The straps were made slightly shorter and narrower as part of the grading, but the length of the shorts was unaltered. I added white topstitching along the top and bottom edges of the bodice, with contrasting black topstitching on the white belt.

The cut of the shorts is in the old style, which takes some getting used to. Here is a view of the suit, shown flat:

1920s Simplicity swimsuit

Simplicity 7041 swimsuit (ca. 1929) – Vintage Fashion Library 145.

Naomi and I took some photos of the swimsuit at the old Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion. This archival photo shows the pavilion in its heyday:

1920s aerial photograph of bathers at Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion, Toronto.

Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion, ca. 1924. Image via City of Toronto Archives.

The pavilion’s grand, Beaux-Arts archway records the year it opened to the public, 1922:

Sunnyside Pavilion

The grand archway at Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion.

As Naomi pointed out, the suit is basically a playsuit, and with heels and a coverup it didn’t feel too odd walking down Queen Street West to the beach.

Suit with coverup

Simplicity 7041 worn with a coverup (shoes: John Fluevog).

I was able to cheat and make the buttons non-functional:

Suit / gates

Simplicity 7041 with “buttoned” straps.

Suit with parasol

Simplicity 7041 – front view

Suit steps

I had trouble deciding how to fit the suit. Although period photographs show knit swimsuits that cling to the body, the illustration shows a looser-fitting suit. Since I wanted to swim in it, I wasn’t aiming for an authentic reproduction. (Wool is just not an option.) But having made it up, it’s clear the suit would drape better in a lighter swimwear fabric. I may try the low-backed, skirted view for next summer…

Parasol

(Cross-posted to We Sew Retro.)

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