May 4, 2015 § 7 Comments
This year marks the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Liberty London is celebrating with an Alice-inspired Spring/Summer 2015 fabric collection. At the V&A Museum of Childhood, an exhibition on Alice’s influence on fashion, The Alice Look, runs to November 1, 2015, and on Saturday the museum is also hosting a conference, Alice & Fashion. (Read the press release.) The exhibition and conference are part of curator Kiera Vaclavik’s larger research project, Addressing Alice: The Emergence of a Style Icon.
To celebrate Alice’s 150th, here’s a look at some rarely seen vintage Alice in Wonderland patterns.
This Alice in Wonderland doll pattern with flamingo, McCall 145, dates to 1933:
The costume of the McCall Alice doll seems to refer to Charlotte Henry’s Alice in Paramount’s Alice in Wonderland (1933). According to Vaclavik, the film appears to have “prompted the adoption of the Alice band as hair accessory of choice at hunt balls and wedding processions across Britain” (see her article in the Independent):
Nearly two decades later, Walt Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland (1951) set the image of Alice as we picture her today. Disney licensed two Alice patterns with McCall’s: McCall’s 8626, a girls’ Alice ensemble, and McCall’s 1643, unisex children’s costumes for the Mad Hatter and March Hare. McCall’s 8626 includes a puff-sleeved dress, apron, coverall, and jacket with rabbit-shaped pocket:
You can see the back of the pattern envelope here.
The Alice pattern was promoted in the August 1951 issue of McCall’s Style News with additional sketches of the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum. It’s worth quoting the original description: “Alice-in-Wonderland dress, inspired by Walt Disney’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ motion picture. Not a fancy-dress costume, but a 4-part ensemble to wear any day of the week. Straight-from-Wonderland ruffled apron that can accompany the little puff-sleeved, full-skirted dress everywhere—to school, to church, to parties. For helping Mother around the house, a jumper-like coverall. And to complete the ensemble, a reversible jacket with the ‘White Rabbit’ in pocket form”:
This photo from McCall’s Pattern Book shows the March Hare costume and Alice outfit made up:
It’s interesting that the 1950s Alice pattern isn’t a costume pattern, but a set of pieces for everyday wear. The pattern adds ruffles to the pinafore, but is otherwise close to Disney’s animated Alice, whose style was based on Mary Blair’s concept art:
Happy anniversary, Alice!
April 5, 2015 § 6 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 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.
December 17, 2014 § 7 Comments
For Paco Peralta.
Before Vogue Patterns introduced Yves Saint Laurent with patterns from the Mondrian collection, the company had already licensed the designer’s work for the house of Dior. (Read more at the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, or see Dustin’s post here.)
Yves Saint Laurent was appointed head designer at Dior after Christian Dior’s death in 1957. Dior had been his mentor; in 1955 he hired Saint Laurent to work at his new boutique, later promoting him to accessories and couture. Richard Avedon’s famous Dovima with Elephants shows a velvet evening dress designed by Yves Saint Laurent while he was still assistant designer:
Saint Laurent’s first collection for Dior, Trapèze (Spring 1958 haute couture), was a huge success, and his later work at the house continued its play with proportion. L’Officiel’s spring preview issue for 1958 featured an illustration of a Dior trapeze dress by René Gruau:
The young Yves Saint Laurent designed six haute couture collections for Dior; Vogue’s licensing represents his last three collections for the house, from 1959 to 1960.
1. Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall/Winter 1959
Saint Laurent’s second Fall/Winter couture collection for Dior was controversial; L’Officiel declared its aesthetic “femininity pushed to the extreme.” Suits were shown with severely cropped jackets, and the skirt silhouettes included voluminous tiers and hobble skirts.
The first Dior patterns were promoted with illustrations by Esther Larson in the late 1959 issues of Vogue Pattern Book and Vogue Printed Pattern News (thanks to the White Cabinet for the ID):
Anticipating demand for this high-profile addition to Vogue’s designer patterns, Vogue Pattern Book noted that the new patterns would be available in stores after November 10th:
The first Dior patterns were photographed by Joseph Leombruno and Jack Bodi, the couple who worked as Leombruno-Bodi. In Vogue magazine’s first issue for 1960, Isabella Albonico modelled the two dress ensembles, Vogue 1471 and 1470:
Leombruno-Bodi also photographed the new Dior patterns for Ladies’ Home Journal. The accompanying text for Vogue 1470 suggests that the hobble skirt silhouette was considered extreme: “Dior’s famous ‘hobble’ skirt makes a charming mid-season costume … The pattern also includes details on how to make the dress without the band at the bottom of the skirt for less extreme effect.” The model on the left is Anne St. Marie (click to enlarge):
Vogue 1470 is a striking dress and jacket ensemble. The short jacket has three-quarter sleeves and bow trim at the waist, while the dress has short sleeves, low V-neckline, and the collection’s distinctive pouf-hobble skirt banded at the knee. The original was navy tweed:
Here’s the envelope description: One piece dress and jacket. Skirt, with or without puffed tunic, joins the bodice at the waistline. Wide V neck-line with band finish. Short kimono sleeves. Short fitted jacket, joined to waistband, has concealed fastening below notched collar; below elbow length sleeves. Novelty belt.
Vogue 1471 is a close-fitting, double-breasted jacket with matching dress. The original was black-and-white tweed:
The envelope description reads: One piece dress and jacket. Flared skirt joins the bodice at the waist-line. Single button closing below the wide V neck-line with extension band finish. Above elbow length and short sleeves. Double breasted jacket has notched collar and below elbow length sleeves. Novelty belt for version A.
Vogue 1472 seems to have been the most popular of the three patterns. The voluminous coat and skirt suit were modelled by Nena von Schlebrügge:
Here’s the envelope description: Coat, suit and scarf. Double-breasted hip length jacket has a notched collar and below elbow length sleeves with buttoned vents. Slim skirt. Double-breasted, full coat in two lengths has a large shaped collar. Concealed pocket in side seams. Below elbow length sleeves joined to dropped shoulder armholes. Straight scarf.
In the next issue of Vogue Pattern Book, the Vogue 1472 coat is called “the newsmaking original Dior coat that tops the suit… Note the extras here: the enormous buttons, the slashed side seams, the stitched collar, the scarf to match. Your own extra: a towering cloche of the checked fabric”:
2. Christian Dior Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1960
Saint Laurent’s Spring 1960 collection for Dior was characterized by rounded silhouettes and vibrant colour. L’Officiel noted its straight suits with jackets cut on the bias to achieve the suppleness of a knitted cardigan.
Vogue 1012, introduced in the August/September 1960 issue of Vogue Pattern Book, includes a collarless, single-breasted skirt suit and sleeveless blouse with crisscross back. The jacket in view A is cut on the bias:
The envelope description reads: Suit and blouse. Short, straight jacket buttons below collarless away from normal neck-line. Welt pockets. Below elbow length kimono sleeves. Skirt has soft gathers from very shallow yoke. Easy fitting overblouse has shoulder straps crisscrossed at back.
This suit is similar to Vogue 1012, but has a more conventional button front:
These Guy Arsac editorial photos of a red “boule” coat and teal dress show the collection’s play with colour and silhouette:
3. Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall/Winter 1960
Yves Saint Laurent’s controversial final collection for Dior, le Beat look, was inspired by Left Bank icon Juliette Gréco and the Beatniks of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. It was innovative for its infusion of youthful, bohemian street style into the couture, with Beat elements including leather jackets, knitted turtlenecks, and plenty of black.
Vogue produced two patterns from this collection, drawn from the more conventional designs. Vogue 1041 is a skirt suit and matching, loose coat with a big standing collar and side slits:
Here’s the envelope description: Suit and coat. Easy fitting jacket has high buttoned closing below neck-band. Vent opening in side front seams. Bracelet length and elbow length sleeves. Slightly gathered skirt has outside stitched front panel concealing pockets. Seven eighths length loose coat has opening in side seams. Away-from-neck-line standing neck-band. Bracelet length kimono sleeves.
Philippe Pottier photographed the purple coat ensemble for L’Officiel‘s winter collections issue:
Vogue 1041 was photographed for Vogue magazine by Henry Clarke:
Vogue 1049 is a skirt suit and sleeveless overblouse. The blouse is worn over a barrel skirt with attached underbodice for a dropped-waist effect. The jacket of view A is designed to be worn open:
The envelope description reads: Suit and blouse. Box jacket has cut away fronts and simulated buttoned closing or complete buttoned closing, below standing band collar. Easy fitting overblouse with optional tied belt has bateau neck-line. Above elbow length sleeves and sleeveless. Slightly barrelled shaped skirt attached to bodice.
The dotted black ensemble in duchesse velvet was photographed for this Chatillon Mouly Roussel advertisement in L’Officiel:
I also found the black suit in a later L’Officiel composite:
These William Klein editorial photos featuring Dior Fall 1960 designs capture the Beat collection’s youthful spirit:
For more of Yves Saint Laurent’s work for Dior see L’Officiel 1000 modèles’ Dior special issue.
November 30, 2014 § 3 Comments
To mark this month’s anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, here’s a look at three postwar German designers who licensed their work to Vogue Patterns.
Celebrity milliner Mr. John was born Hans Harberger in Munich. He moved to New York in the 1920s, opening a salon with partner Frederick Hirst; the Mr. John salon was founded when the milliner went solo in 1948. (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.) Mr. John hat patterns were available from Vogue in the 1950s. Vogue 7909 is a beret that dips to a point on one side, with an optional chin strap:
Born in Hamburg, Alke Boker moved to New York City in the 1970s after the death of her husband. She spent a few years designing for Pierre Cardin before founding her own label in the early 1980s. This Vogue Individualist pattern includes a pullover, bias dress with seven-eighths sleeves and separate hood. The model is Wanakee Pugh:
Also from Hamburg, Karl Lagerfeld made his career in Paris, working as head designer at Patou and Chloé before establishing his own company in 1984. Vogue Patterns soon made a licensing agreement for Lagerfeld sewing patterns which continued into the 1990s. From 1989, Vogue 2407 is a formal dress-and-overdress ensemble that can be tied in front or back:
The Berlin fashion photos in this post are by West German photographer F.C. Gundlach. Click the link to visit the foundation devoted to his work, or the photos to read more about his fashion photography.
August 4, 2014 § 2 Comments
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, or are a connoisseur of 1950s sewing advertising, you’ve seen images from McCall’s mid-1950s “Make the Clothes that Make the Woman” advertising campaign. (See my earlier post here.)
I’ve found another ad from the campaign. The model is Jean Patchett, and the pattern is McCall’s 3635 —an “Italian drawstring top” and “saucy in-between-length Jamaican shorts” (click to enlarge):
May 12, 2014 § 6 Comments
(A late Mother’s Day post since I was under the weather yesterday.)
In honour of Mother’s Day, this models post is devoted to a mother and daughter who both modelled for designer sewing patterns: Nena von Schlebrügge and Uma Thurman.
Nena von Schlebrügge (b. 1941) was born in Mexico City to German-Swedish parents who had fled Nazi Germany. In 1957, two years after she was discovered by Norman Parkinson, she moved from her native Stockholm to London to pursue modelling, later moving to New York to sign with Eileen Ford.
Nena von Schlebrügge appears on a number of Vogue Pattern Book covers and Vogue patterns from the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Here she models one of Vogue’s first Dior patterns by Yves Saint Laurent—Vogue 1472, a skirt suit and full coat with big, shaped collar:
Von Schlebrügge can also be seen on Vogue 1484 by Madame Grès, a 3-piece ensemble that includes a voluminous coat with three-quarter sleeves, loose back panel, and elegant contrast lapels and lining:
Uma Thurman (b. 1970) is the daughter of Nena von Schlebrügge and her second husband, Robert Thurman. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Uma Thurman dropped out of her prep school there to pursue acting in New York City, where she worked as a fashion model before landing her breakout roles in Stephen Frears’ Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988).
Here Thurman wears Simplicity 8054, a wrap dress with halter back and capelet sleeves, in classic red:
Here she models a pure ’80s LBD with big shoulders and flutter sleeves, Simplicity 8055:
Nena von Schlebrügge later became a psychotherapist and director of Tibet House and the Menla Center; Uma Thurman is an Academy Award nominee for her role in Pulp Fiction (1994). Thurman’s presence is already evident in her Simplicity patterns. Isn’t the family resemblance striking?