May 11, 2015 § 5 Comments
As part of this blog’s celebration of Savage Beauty in London, I’ll be devoting two posts to Alexander McQueen fabrics. (See my earlier roundup post here.) First: a look at McQueen’s distinctive prints.
McQueen’s fellow Central Saint Martins student Simon Ungless, who went on to become director of the School of Fashion at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University, designed the barbed hawthorn print in McQueen’s graduate collection, Jack the Ripper Stalks his Victims (Fall 1992; interview here. Oberto Gili photographed Isabella Blow in the coat for British Vogue.) Ungless also designed the swallow print in The Birds (Spring 1995):
Freelance print designer and Central Saint Martins Textiles tutor Fleet Bigwood designed fabrics for Alexander McQueen’s first three seasons. (See Fleet Bigwood: Breaking the Rules at Texprint, or the BBC’s Blast videos.) The top in this ensemble from Nihilism (Spring 1994, McQueen’s third collection) was printed using an iron filing paste that was rusted through exposure to air and salt water (see Louise Nutt on Pinterest; full collection at the Fashion Spot, or video here):
In 2002, immediately after presenting his award-winning Central Saint Martins graduate collection, Jonathan Saunders was hired to design prints for Alexander McQueen’s Spring 2003 collection, Irere. Working with designer Christopher Pearson—a member of the Alexander McQueen design team from 2001 to 2006 and a founding member of the company’s fashion print department—Saunders produced Irere’s celebrated Bird-of-Paradise prints (see the V&A on Irere):
The following year, Pearson co-designed the Alexander McQueen skull scarf with Jennefer Osterhoudt, who was head of accessories for McQueen at Givenchy and later at Alexander McQueen. The pattern is based on a skull scarf found in Camden Market:
For McQueen’s later collections, the prints were produced by a team of designers that included textile design interns who might be hired back after graduation. From 2006 to 2011, the company’s head print designer was Central Saint Martins graduate Holly Marler, who is now head of embroidery, fabric, and print design at Temperley London.
Lilly Heine, now head of print fabric development at Dries Van Noten, interned with Jonathan Saunders and later Alexander McQueen as a textiles student. (See her profiles in the Frankfurter Allgemeine [German only] and the Independent.) During her internship at Alexander McQueen, Heine designed some prints for La Dame Bleue (Spring 2008). The collection’s rainbow bird-of-paradise print appeared on several looks including the feather-collared Bird of Paradise dress—recently worn by FKA twigs to perform at the V&A’s Savage Beauty gala:
Torunn Myklebust, today a senior print designer at Givenchy, also did a textile design internship at Alexander McQueen. As an intern, Myklebust worked on prints for Natural Dis-Tinction Un-Natural Selection (Spring 2009), and she rejoined the company in late 2009. (Read an interview in Natt&Dag [Norwegian only]; see Myklebust’s tumblr.) The wood-grain digital print from the Spring 2009 collection was later used for the endpapers of Andrew Bolton’s Savage Beauty catalogue:
In her review of the Spring 2009 collection, Sarah Mower identified engineered prints as a trend out of London: “bright, multicolored allover prints, engineered to fit around jackets, leggings, and cocoon dresses—new on the Paris runway, but also part of a general trend emanating from London’s young designers.” The Spring 2009 advertising campaign, shot by Craig McDean, features a jacket and leggings in one of the collection’s crystalline digital prints:
In her Savage Beauty interview with Tim Blanks, Sarah Burton discusses McQueen’s meticulous design process when working with patterned fabrics such as prints or jacquards. From Fall 2009 on, McQueen would drape the initial design using a rough version of the fabric, with the team producing miniature, 3-D paper dolls to show the pattern placement. When a working version of the fabric was ready, he would finalize the pattern placement on a mannequin, after which the print or jacquard would be re-adjusted to match at the seams. Only then would it be sent into production. (See Andrew Bolton, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, pp. 229-30.)
Frederic Alexander, who worked as an assistant to Holly Marler and now designs for his own label, Saint Etienne, worked on prints for Alexander McQueen’s Pre-Fall 2009 and Fall 2009 collections. The Escher-inspired magpie houndstooth print recalls Simon Ungless’ swallow print:
Advances in inkjet technology enabled the thirty-six circle-engineered digital prints in Plato’s Atlantis (Spring 2010). (For further technical discussion of textiles in Plato’s Atlantis, see the Savage Beauty section of the Alexander McQueen website.) Freelance textile designer Chinsky Cheung interned at Alexander McQueen and returned to the company for several collections, including Plato’s Atlantis. In an article published in Hong Kong’s Milk magazine, she shows aspects of the design process including pattern placement:
(For more scans see Augustine Wong’s post, The Queen of the Prints.)
The Fall 2010 menswear (An Bailitheoir Cnámh – the Bone Collector) and women’s Pre-Fall 2010 collection had the same catacombs print:
The textiles in McQueen’s posthumously presented Fall 2010 collection (known as Angels and Demons) were patterned with digitally manipulated images drawn from early religious painting and sculpture. (See Dazed Digital and the V&A on the collection.) Some of the patterns were not prints but jacquards, while the reworked Old Master prints looked back to pieces like the Fall 1997 Campin crucifixion-printed jacket:
For more on digital prints, see the webpage for the Phoenix Art Museum’s 2013 exhibit, Digital Print Fashion (more in Corbin Chamberlin, “Phoenix Art Museum Embraces New Technology with ‘Digital Print Fashion’ Exhibit“). If you’re interested in designing your own digital prints, Kathryn Brenne recently wrote a primer for Vogue Patterns magazine’s February/March 2015 issue, and textbook on the subject, Digital Textile Design (Laurence King, 2nd ed. 2012).
With thanks to Kate Bethune.
Next: Alexander McQueen and tartan.
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 17, 2015 § 1 Comment
The Museum at FIT’s exhibit, Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s, closes this Saturday. (See Bridget Foley, “That Real Seventies Show.”) If you can’t make it to New York to see it, a catalogue is available from Yale University Press.
The MFIT exhibit organizes the two designers’ 1970s work in three thematic sections: menswear influence, exoticism, and historicism. Since both Yves Saint Laurent and Halston had licensed sewing patterns in the ’70s, I thought it would be fun to present three pairs of patterns in the exhibition’s format.
From Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue 1143 is a ’70s version of the famous Le smoking. Helmut Newton photographed Charlotte Rampling in a similar, Prince of Wales check pantsuit for Vogue (with original text here):
According to the curators, Halston’s most famous garment is the Ultrasuede shirtdress. McCall’s 4391 is a zip-front shirtdress that includes special instructions for working with synthetic suede:
Yves Saint Laurent’s interest in “exotic,” non-Western dress is perhaps best remembered from his Russian collection (Fall 1976 haute couture). From Vogue’s Ballets Russes patterns, Vogue 1558 is a Russian ensemble consisting of blouse, vest, bias skirt, and braid-trimmed jacket—hat and babushka scarf not included (see more at Paco’s blog):
During the 1970s, both Saint Laurent and Halston showed non-Western influence in their caftans and pajama ensembles. Halston pattern McCall’s 3590 combines both:
Inspired by the 1940s, Yves Saint Laurent’s Spring 1971 haute couture collection, Libération, launched the decade’s vogue for vintage. Although the 1971 collection was poorly received, Saint Laurent’s subsequent vintage-inspired efforts were very influential. From 1973, Vogue 2930 is a Forties-inspired dress-and-coat ensemble:
Halston’s historicism focused on the interwar couture of the 1930s, especially the work of Grès and Vionnet. McCall’s 4046 is a slinky dress for stretchable knits. It has only one main pattern piece and is shaped by gathers and side darts:
As the curators note, Halston and Yves Saint Laurent have been seen as embodying two separate styles: minimalist ready-to-wear vs. fantasy couture. Yet comparison of their work shows how their stylistic experimentation led them to common ground, particularly in the earlier ’70s. Interestingly, some Saint Laurent and Halston garments can be hard to tell apart until you examine the construction—something home sewers can certainly appreciate.
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 17, 2015 § 5 Comments
The London incarnation of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty has just opened at the Victoria and Albert Museum. (See British Vogue on the additions to the Costume Institute show.) Accompanying the exhibition is a full calendar of events, including a two-day conference in early June. The exhibition catalogue by Claire Wilcox is available in hardcover and paperback from the V&A, with a North American edition to be published by Abrams in May.
Several London galleries are hosting related exhibitions. At Proud Galleries, McQueen: Backstage – The Early Shows by Gary Wallis presents Wallis’ behind-the-scenes photographs from McQueen’s early career (to April 5, 2015; book). Tate Britain’s Nick Waplington/Alexander McQueen: Working Process brings together Nick Waplington’s photographs of The Horn of Plenty (FW 2009), recently published in his 2013 book (to May 17, 2015). At the Gallery at Foyles, Inferno: Alexander McQueen – Photographs by Kent Baker will present backstage photographs from Dante (FW 1996) (March 20 to May 3; book). And next month, London College of Fashion’s Fashion Space Gallery will host Warpaint: Alexander McQueen and Make-Up (April 30 to August 7, 2015).
To celebrate the opening of the London retrospective, here’s a roundup of my posts on sewing patterns by Alexander McQueen, both for Givenchy and his own label:
- Alexander McQueen for Givenchy: Vogue Patterns, Part 1 (1997 collections)
- Alexander McQueen for Givenchy: Vogue Patterns, Part 2 (1998 collections)
- Alexander McQueen for Givenchy: Vogue Patterns, Part 3 (1999 collections)
- Free Designer Pattern: Alexander McQueen kimono jacket
- Vogue 2248 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy
- Year of the Snake: Vogue 2086 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, Part 1
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.
March 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
If you’re in London, you still have a week to see Guy Bourdin: Image Maker at Somerset House before it closes next Sunday.
Bourdin shot only one Vogue Patterns editorial that I know of: a two-page editorial for Vogue magazine in 1966. The young Marisa Berenson models a shift dress and tent coat made from a single pattern, Vogue 6916, accessorized with gloves, fishnet knee socks, and hat by Lilly Daché (click to enlarge):
As always, details could be found in the back of the magazine:
British Vogue later published the same editorial with the layout reversed: see youthquakers.
For more posts in this series, click the Patterns in Vogue tag.