Nena von Schlebrügge and Uma Thurman

May 12, 2014 § 5 Comments

Autumn 1960 Vogue Pattern Book (UK edition)

Nena von Schlebrügge on the cover of Vogue Pattern Book, Autumn 1960. Image via eBay.

(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.

Norman Parkinson test shot of Nena von Schlebrügge, Stockholm, 1955

Nena von Schlebrügge, first test shots, Stockholm, 1955. Photo: Norman Parkinson. Image via artnet.

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:

Vogue 1472 by Yves Saint Laurent for Christian Dior (1959). Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

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:

Vogue 1484 by Grès (1960) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Nena von Schlebrügge on a 1960 Grès pattern - Vogue 1484

Detail of Vogue 1484 by Grès (1960) Image via Etsy.

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).

Patrick Demarchelier photo of Uma Thurman on the cover of British Vogue, December 1985

British Vogue, December 1985. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier. Image via Vogue UK.

Uma Thurman is featured on a handful of 1980s Simplicity patterns, including two by Cathy Hardwick. (These may date to Tom Ford’s time at the company.)

Here Thurman wears Simplicity 8054, a wrap dress with halter back and capelet sleeves, in classic red:

1980s Cathy Hardwick dress pattern featuring Uma Thurman - Simplicity 8054

Simplicity 8054 by Cathy Hardwick (1986) Image via Etsy.

Here she models a pure ’80s LBD with big shoulders and flutter sleeves, Simplicity 8055:

1980s Cathy Hardwick dress pattern featuring Uma Thurman - Simplicity 8055

Simplicity 8055 by Cathy Hardwick (1987) Image via Etsy.

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?

Mad Men Era 9: Butterick’s Young Designers

April 24, 2014 § 2 Comments

Megan Draper (Jessica Paré) in a Mad Men season 7 promotional photo. Image via AMC.

My series on Mad Men-era designer patterns concludes this week with three Butterick Young Designers: Mary Quant, Jean Muir, and Emmanuelle Khanh.

In 1964, Butterick launched its Young Designers line, appealing to the youth market by licensing the work of up-and-coming, international fashion designers. The line would continue through the 1970s with the addition of new designers like Betsey Johnson, Jane Tise, and Kenzo. (For more on the Young Designers line see The Vintage Traveler’s Butterick Young Designers page.)

Mary Quant

Mary Quant (b. 1934) was the first designer to be signed to the new pattern line. Born in London, Quant met Archie McNair and her future husband, Alexander Plunket Greene, at art school; together they opened a boutique on the King’s Road, Bazaar, in 1955, selling Quant’s fun, youthful designs. Quant is perhaps most famous as a pioneer of the miniskirt. Butterick released its first Quant patterns, featuring Celia Hammond photographed by Terence Donovan, in the fall of 1964.

Butterick 5475 is a mini-length shirt dress with plenty of details including epaulets, side slits, and a self-buttoned belt:

1960s Mary Quant mini dress pattern - Butterick 5475

Butterick 5475 by Mary Quant (1969) Mini dress.

Jean Muir

Also born in London, Jean Muir (1928-1995) showed an early talent for dressmaking and needlework. During the 1950s, after working her way up from the stockroom at Liberty, she was hired as designer for Jaeger; she stayed with Jaeger until 1962, when she founded her first label, Jane & Jane. She launched her eponymous label in 1966. Muir was known for her fluid dresses with charming dressmaker details.

Butterick introduced Jean Muir patterns in the spring of 1965. This short, high-waisted dress dates to the late 1960s; the bodice front and slashed, modified raglan bell sleeves fasten with rows of tiny buttons:

1960s Jean Muir dress pattern - Butterick 5657

Butterick 5657 by Jean Muir (c. 1969) Image via eBay.

Emmanuelle Khanh

Born in Paris as Renée Mésière, Emmanuelle Khanh (b. 1937) married avant-garde industrial designer Quasar Khanh in the late 1950s, around the same time that she began working as a house model for Balenciaga and Givenchy. Turning her hand to fashion design, Khanh was soon at the forefront of yé-yé fashion (Paris’ answer to Youthquake), designing for brands including Cacharel and Missoni before launching her own label in 1969. (Read a 1964 LIFE magazine article about Khanh here.) Today her company focuses on accessories, particularly eyewear.

Butterick introduced Emmanuelle Khanh sewing patterns in the fall of 1965. This turquoise, suit-effect dress creates interesting effects with topstitching and collar details:

1960s Emmanuelle Khanh suit pattern on the cover of the Butterick Home Catalog, Fall 1965

Emmanuelle Khanh dress on the cover of the Butterick Home Catalog, Fall 1965. Image: myvintagevogue via Freshly Given.

The pattern is Butterick 3718. (Thanks to Jessica Hastings of myvintagevogue for confirming the number.) This photo shows a full-length view of the dress:

An Emmanuelle Khanh dress made from a Butterick sewing pattern in heavy turquoise blue wool jersey. The striped blue, grey and black stockings are by Corah and the suede buttoned gaiters and shoes by Rayne. The white stitched crepe hat is by Simone Mirman.

An Emmanuelle Khanh dress made from a Butterick sewing pattern in heavy turquoise blue wool jersey (1965) Image via Amazon.

It’s interesting to see an established company like Butterick responding to contemporary Sixties youth culture, facilitating access to Youthquake and yé-yé fashion in the process.

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