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.

Pan Am Games 2015 – Vintage Pattern Edition

July 20, 2015 § 6 Comments

This week the Pan Am Games continue in Toronto. In honour of the Games, here’s a look at vintage patterns and illustrations showing women’s sports.

First up: Pan Am sports that have already concluded for 2015.

Archery. From a 1933 issue of McCall’s magazine, this archery scene was illustrated by Jean des Vignes:

Jean des Vignes archery illustration in a 1930s McCall's magazine

“Taking Aim,” McCall’s magazine, March 1933. Illustration: Jean des Vignes.

Golf. Ben-Hur Baz (later known for his pin-ups) illustrated this golf scene for McCall’s magazine, circa 1930:

Ben Hur Baz ladies' golf illustration in McCall's magazine, spring 1930

McCall 6078 and 6074 in McCall’s magazine, April 1930. Illustration: Ben Hur Baz.

Donna Karan designed these mid-1970s golf separates, hat included, when she was at Anne Klein. You can buy it for your own golfing needs from the PatternVault shop.

1970s Donna Karan for Anne Klein for Penfold golf pattern - Vogue 1415

Vogue 1415 by Donna Karan for Anne Klein x Penfold (ca. 1976) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Roller skating. Simplicity 3890, a World War 2-era skating pattern, includes this roller skating illustration:

1940s roller skating pattern - Simplicity 3890

Simplicity 3890 (ca. 1941) Image via Etsy.

Sailing. This 1930s sailor dress has a contrast collar and big buttons at the side-front closure:

1930s sailor dress pattern - New York 217

New York 217 (ca. 1930s)

Swimming. This chic, cuffed swimsuit (previously featured in my Heat Wave! beachwear post) dates to the late 1940s:

1940s bathing suit pattern - Vogue 6709

Vogue 6709 (1949) Image via Oodles and oodles.

The swimsuit was photographed by Richard Rutledge for Vogue Pattern Book:

1940s Richard Rutledge photograph - Vogue pattern no. 6709

Vogue 6709 in Vogue Pattern Book, April/May 1949. Photo: Richard Rutledge.

Tennis. The cover of the McCall Quarterly for Spring 1932 has this tennis-themed illustration featuring two dresses by Bruyère:


Bruyère patterns McCall 6804 and 6819 on the cover of McCall Quarterly, Spring 1932. Illustration: Blanche Rothschild.

(For more tennis patterns see my Tennis, Anyone? post.)

Stay tuned for more vintage sports wear… I’ll be looking at a different Pan Am sport and related vintage pattern every day this week.

Lanvin at 125: Marie-Blanche de Polignac

March 13, 2015 § 4 Comments

Lanvin's 1950s pattern, Vogue 1120, photographed by Richard Rutledge

Vogue 1120 by Lanvin, Vogue, October 1950. Photo: Richard Rutledge.

This week, the second post in my series on Lanvin sewing patterns. (See my post on Jeanne Lanvin’s interwar patterns here.)

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:

1940s Lanvin dress pattern - Vogue 1052

Vogue 1052 by Lanvin (1949) Image via eBay.

Clifford Coffin photographed the dress in Paris for Vogue magazine:

Lanvin dress pattern photographed by Clifford Coffin for Vogue, March 1949

Lanvin pattern Vogue 1052 in Vogue, March 1949. Photo: Clifford Coffin.

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):

1940s Lanvin strapless evening dress pattern - Vogue 1073

Vogue 1073 by Lanvin (1949) Image via flickr.

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:

1940s Lanvin dress pattern - Vogue 1078

Vogue 1078 by Lanvin (1949) Image via eBay.

Richard Rutledge photographed the dress for Vogue magazine (with Vogue 1077 by Jacques Fath):

1940s dress patterns by Lanvin and Fath - Vogue 1078 and 1077 - photographed for Vogue by Richard Rutledge

Vogue Paris Originals 1078 and 1077 by Lanvin and Fath, Vogue, November 1949. Photo: Richard Rutledge.

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:

1940s Lanvin dress pattern - Vogue 1064

Vogue 1064 by Lanvin (1949) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The original, in black taffeta with pink cuffs, was photographed by Cecil Beaton (with Vogue 1058 by Molyneux):

Molyneux and Lanvin patterns photographed by Cecil Beaton for Vogue, 1949

Vogue Paris Originals 1058 and 1064 by Molyneux and Lanvin, Vogue, June 1949. Photo: Cecil Beaton.


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:

1950s Lanvin suit and blouse pattern - Vogue 1104

Vogue 1104 by Lanvin (1950) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Here’s a closer look at Norman Parkinson’s photo of the late Bettina in Paris:

Bettina Graziani in Lanvin at Paris' Tuileries Metro station, 1950

Vogue 1104 by Lanvin, Vogue, May 1950. Model: Bettina. Photo: Norman Parkinson.

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:

1950s Lanvin dress pattern - Vogue 1107

Vogue 1107 by Lanvin (1950) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

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”:

1950s Lanvin dress pattern - Vogue 1120

Vogue 1120 by Lanvin (1950) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

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:

1950s Lanvin dress pattern - Vogue 1122

Vogue 1122 by Lanvin (1950) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Instead of the envelope’s location shot, Vogue published a studio photo of the dress:

Lanvin dress pattern Vogue 1122 photographed for Vogue by Richard Rutledge, 1951

Vogue 1122 by Lanvin, Vogue, January 1951. Photo: Richard Rutledge.

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:

1950s Lanvin pattern - Vogue 1139

Vogue 1139 by Lanvin (1951) Image via eBay.

Anne Gunning in Lanvin ensemble Vogue 1139 photographed by Henry Clarke

Vogue 1139 by Lanvin, Vogue, May 1951. Photo: Henry Clarke.

Next in the series: Antonio del Castillo’s Vogue Paris Originals.

Schiaparelli Patterns, Part 2

March 5, 2014 § 14 Comments

Vogue 15 Nov 49_a

Paris Originals by Schiaparelli (left) and Jacques Heim (right). Vogue, November 15, 1949. Photo: Richard Rutledge.

This week, the second part of my series on commercial sewing patterns by Elsa Schiaparelli. (See Part 1 here.)

Schiaparelli was one of the eight couturiers who licensed designs for the first Vogue Paris Originals in 1949. Vogue’s first Schiaparelli pattern was a skirt suit with double pockets and one-sleeved blouse, Vogue 1051:

1940s Schiaparelli suit and blouse pattern - Vogue 1051

Vogue 1051 by Schiaparelli (1949) Image via the Blue Gardenia blog.

The suit was photographed in Paris by Clifford Coffin:

Vogue 1 Mar 1949 Schiaparelli

Vogue 1051 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, March 1, 1949. Photo: Clifford Coffin.

The photo that opens this post shows Vogue 1074, a Schiaparelli dress and shortcoat from Vogue’s fourth series of Paris Originals. The original coat was lined with astrakhan. (The suit on the right is Vogue 1076 by Jacques Heim.)

1940s Schiaparelli coat and dress pattern - Vogue 1074

Vogue 1074 by Schiaparelli (1949) Image via Pinterest.

New Look curves characterize this Schiaparelli suit pattern from spring, 1950, which was photographed in Paris by Norman Parkinson. The short-sleeved jacket has rounded, stiffened hips, while the kimono-sleeved blouse buttons its curved fronts to one side. Vogue recommends making the blouse from the suit’s lining fabric:

1950s Schiaparelli suit and blouse pattern - Vogue 1098

Vogue 1098 by Schiaparelli (1950) Image via eBay. Photo: Norman Parkinson.

Vogue 1133 is a vampy, short-sleeved dress with hip-enhancing pocket flaps and convertible collar at both front and back:

1950s Schiaparelli dress pattern - Vogue 1133

Vogue 1133 by Schiaparelli (1951) Image via eBay.

Arik Nepo’s photograph plays up the dress’ severity:

Vogue 1133 15Feb1951

Vogue 1133 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, February 15, 1951. Photo: Arik Nepo.

Vogue 1142 is a faux suit, an asymmetrical dress with a skirt front extension that creates the illusion of a jacket on one side. (Much like Galliano’s Givenchy jumpsuit, Vogue 1887.) The shaped projections of the big, rounded collar, skirt extension, and off-kilter double-breasted closure playfully destabilize the garment:

1950s Schiaparelli dress pattern - Vogue 1148

Vogue 1148 by Schiaparelli (1951) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This Schiaparelli evening dress pattern, Vogue 1144, includes a petticoat and diaphanous kerchief. Look closely, and you can see that the oversized, decorative pockets extend almost the length of the skirt:

Vogue 1144 by Schiaparelli (1951) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Here’s a closer look at Henry Clarke’s photo:

Vogue 1144 15 May 1951

Vogue 1144 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, May 15, 1951. Photo: Henry Clarke.

In 1952 Schiaparelli showed inverted heart necklines for spring; with its pointed, stand-away neckline and narrow shawl collar, Vogue 1179 allowed the home dressmaker to be right up to date. The cocktail dress closes with not one but two side zippers:

Vogue 1179 (1952)

Vogue 1179 by Schiaparelli (1952) Image via eBay.

Vogue magazine showed an alternate photo by Robert Randall:

Vogue 1179 15May1952

Vogue 1179 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, May 15, 1952. Photo: Robert Randall.

Frances McLaughlin photographed Bettina in Vogue 1198, a short evening dress with what Vogue called “a big pleated bandage—like an outside order ribbon” wrapping over one shoulder and around the waist. The original was made in black silk brocade:

Vogue 1198 15 Oct 1952

Vogue 1198 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, October 15, 1952. Model: Bettina. Photo: Frances McLaughlin.

Here’s a catalogue page for Vogue 1198, with illustration and alternate photo:

Vogue 1198 catalogue

Vogue 1198 in a 1950s Vogue Patterns counter catalogue.

Vogue 1231 is a day dress with a single patch pocket and bloused bodice gathered to a dramatic convertible collar:

1950s Schiaparelli dress pattern - Vogue 1231

Vogue 1231 by Schiaparelli (1953) Image via Betsy Vintage.

The dress was photographed in Paris by Robert Randall:

Vogue 1231 15Aug1953

Vogue 1231 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, August 15, 1953. Photo: Robert Randall.

Finally, Vogue 1245 is a long evening dress with an attached stole that passes through the bodice front:

Drawing showing details of Schiaparelli evening dress pattern - Vogue 1245

Illustration for Vogue 1245 by Schiaparelli (1954)

The stunning gown was photographed by Roger Prigent:

Vogue 1245 1Jan1954

Vogue 1245 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, January 1, 1954. Photo: Roger Prigent.

If you don’t have the budget for an original Schiaparelli pattern, a reproduction of the one-sleeved stole from Vogue 1068 is available from Decades of Style:

Vogue 1068 by Schiaparelli. Sketch by David

Vogue 1068 by Schiaparelli. Sketch by David, Vogue, August 1, 1949.

Rosie the Riveter, 1942

September 2, 2013 § 1 Comment

Rosie the Riveter on the cover of McCall's magazine, September 1942

McCall’s magazine, September 1942. Image via Envisioning the American Dream.

During World War 2, women engaged in wartime work could choose from a variety of sewing patterns for work wear. The array of coveralls available included the mechanic suit, a close cousin to the siren suit or air raid suit (see my earlier post here). This 1942 pattern from Simplicity shows a khaki version paired with a garrison cap:

1940s WW2 military coverall pattern - Simplicity 4104 (1942)

Simplicity 4104 (1942) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

(You can see a contemporary photo of View 1 at Unsung Sewing Patterns.)

Happy Labour Day, everyone!

There’s a War On: Weldons So-Easy Patterns

January 25, 2013 § 2 Comments

Bomb with lipstick kiss in Bomb Girls' munitions factory - Jumping Tracks

Bomb Girls is back. For me, much of the show’s interest lies in its portrayal of women’s wartime fashions, both on and off the factory floor. One line of sewing patterns that I associate specifically with the Second World War is Weldons So-Easy patterns.

1940s English coat pattern - Weldon's So-Easy 34

Weldons So-Easy 34 (c. 1940) Two smart coats. Image via Vera Venus.

Founded in 1879, Weldon’s was England’s first major pattern company. The So-Easy line seems to have been introduced during World War 2. Weldons So-Easy patterns included a range of designs, from day wear to toys; the earlier women’s So-Easy designs tended to be available in only three sizes.

So-Easy patterns don’t bear copyright dates, but some include the war rationing notice, “Professional dressmakers are reminded that they must comply with the Making of Civilian Clothing (Restriction) Orders.” These measures were passed in 1942-43. (For the text and discussion see Cargo Cult Craft’s posts.) According to U.K. vintage dealer Tracy of Wickedlady Collectables, Weldons did not promote So-Easy patterns in their magazine, but the mention of purchase tax, introduced in late 1940, can also help with dating.

One thing that distinguishes wartime So-Easy patterns is their pinup-style illustrations straight out of Mrs Henderson Presents. Here is a selection of World War 2 Weldons So-Easy patterns, with an emphasis on lingerie.

This ‘Pretty Undies’ set includes a brassiere, full slip, and knickers with pointed yoke:

1940s British lingerie pattern, Weldons So-Easy 50

Weldons So-Easy 50 (c. 1942) Pretty undies. Image via Vintage British Style.

These ‘Slim Line Undies’—a full slip and knickers—are held in the National Trust Collections:

1940s British lingerie pattern for slips and knickers, Weldons So-Easy 64

Weldons So-Easy 64 (c. 1942) Slim-line undies. Image via eBay.

These ‘Simple Undies’ include a nightgown and slip with seam interest:

Weldons So-Easy 72 (c. 1942) Simple undies. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This pattern includes a bra and knickers in two styles, French and Directoire (bloomers), the last with interesting details:

Weldons So-Easy 85

Weldons So-Easy 85 (c. 1942) Brassière and two knickers.

This two-piece bathing suit with skirt was available in four sizes:

Weldons So-Easy 154

Weldons So-Easy 154 (c. 1943) Two-piece bathing suit and skirt. Image via eBay.

My personal favourite must be the Two-Way Siren Suit, an air raid coverall with options for a hood and gathered ankles:

1940s English siren suit pattern - Weldons So-Easy 19

Weldons So-Easy 19 (c. 1940) Two-way siren suit. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

For fans of Bomb Girls, which films in the Toronto area, it’s possible to visit some of the locations for the show. Victory Munitions and other sets were built in an old furniture factory in Etobicoke, while street scenes were shot in Hamilton. The Witham mansion is Oshawa’s Parkwood estate, the former home of General Motors founder R.S. McLaughlin. (Read an interview with the cinematographer here; download production notes here.)

How Do You Take Your Vintage Vogue?

December 31, 2011 § 5 Comments

This Christmas, while browsing my mother’s back issues of Vogue Patterns magazine, I was interested to see how the Vintage Vogue pattern line has evolved since its launch in 1998. Two repro patterns that were made up more than once for the magazine’s editorials are especially revealing of Vogue Patterns’ choices in promoting its vintage line. A look at the magazine’s different versions of these patterns seems the perfect opportunity for end-of-year reflection on different approaches to sewing—and wearing—vintage.

Vogue 2241, an early 1930s evening gown pattern, has been made up twice for the magazine. (See the pattern on flickr here.) This pattern is one of the earliest Vintage Vogues: it was released soon after the initial batch, which was photographed in black and white for the September/October 1998 issue.

The 1998 holiday issue’s “Vintage Vogue: Past Perfect” feature shows two evening designs, one Fifties, one Thirties, with an old-fashioned dressing screen. The headline promotes the ‘romance’ and timelessness of vintage, and the accompanying copy relates both designs to the “spare, romantic elegance of modern eveningwear,” but the shoot’s dress-up concept makes the garments look static and costumey. Here’s the first Vintage Vogue 2241, in washed silk charmeuse:

Vogue 2241 Vogue Patterns November/December 1998

Vogue 2241 (1931 reissue) in Vogue Patterns, November/December 1998.

Six years later, the same design was remade for another holiday editorial, this one called “Vintage Nights.” This shoot features lush ‘vintage’ set design, with the model conveying a glamorous hauteur. The emphasis is more on dramatic style and interpretation: the headline reads, “Relive the glamour of a bygone era. Dressing for evening takes a cue from the past in Vintage Vogue.” Here’s the second Vogue 2241, this time in sueded silk charmeuse:

Vogue 2241 Vintage Nights Vogue Patterns December 2004/January 2005

Vogue 2241 in Vogue Patterns, December 2004/January 2005.

The second Vintage Vogue pattern, Vogue 2787, a Forties reproduction, is still in print. For its initial release in spring 2004, Vogue 2787 was made up in two versions, a printed and a solid silk charmeuse, each paired with a retro hat and gloves. The pattern was released with another Forties design, and the editorial gives a fairly direct rendition of Forties glamour; as the headline says, “Forties and still fabulous—take it from us, classic couture gets better with age.” Here are the first two versions of Vogue 2787:

Vintage Vogue Vogue Patterns April/May 2004

Vogue 2787 (1948 reissue) in Vogue Patterns, April/May 2004.

Vogue 2787 photo Vogue Patterns April/May 2004

Vogue 2787 in Vogue Patterns, April/May 2004.

A few years later, Vogue 2787 reappeared in a garden party-themed editorial of Forties and Fifties designs called “Well Cultivated Vintage Vogue.” (The cover shows a Fifties top from the same shoot.) The headline promotes the designs’ freshness and timelessness: “Firmly rooted in the elegance of the past, these perennial beauties make a perfect pick for today.” Vogue 2787’s next incarnation was made up in silk crepe de chine in a pink-dotted print:

Vogue 2787 Well Cultivated Vintage Vogue April/May 2007

Vogue 2787 in Vogue Patterns, April/May 2007.

And just this fall, Vogue 2787 opened a feature called “Beyond Vintage,” in which Vogue Patterns’ staff adapted and modernized their reissued patterns. Creative Director Jelena Bogavac updated the Forties dress by raising the hemline and altering both sleeves for an asymmetrical bodice. Here it is in iridescent green and pink velvet:

Vogue 2787 Beyond Vintage October/November 2011

Vogue 2787 in Vogue Patterns, October/November 2011.

Has our thinking about vintage changed since the ’90s? When the two reissued patterns first came out, their straight period styling was appealing enough for me to get them both. Today I prefer the interpretation of the “Vintage Nights” shoot, and the updating and play of the fall vintage feature.

If you sew vintage, do you make it straight up, or with a twist? Do you adapt your style to accommodate vintage pieces, or make vintage adapt to you?


In case you missed it, I’m We Sew Retro’s featured member for December—you can see my interview here.

All the best for 2012!

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