Zandra Rhodes: Style Patterns

September 24, 2015 § 3 Comments

Zandra Rhodesand Rembrandt's Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet, 2014

Zandra Rhodes and Rembrandt’s portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet, 2014. Image via the National Gallery.

Last week, Zandra Rhodes returned to London Fashion Week for her Spring 2016 collection. Famous for her colourful, hand-drawn prints, the bohemian cult favourite is also new to Vogue Patterns for Winter/Holiday 2015: Vogue 1472 is the first new Zandra Rhodes sewing pattern in thirty years. (Update: read a profile in Vogue Patterns magazine.) For knitters, the current issue of Rowan Knitting & Crochet has a Zandra Rhodes jacket pattern available as a free download.

Zandra Rhodes sketch with yarn charts and sample garment - Rowan 58 (Winter 2015)

Zandra Rhodes sketch with yarn charts and sample garment in Katy Bevan, “Dame Zandra’s Knitting Circle” in Rowan Knitting & Crochet 58 (Winter 2015). Image via Rowan.

Born in Chatham, Kent, Zandra Rhodes (b. 1940) trained as a textile designer at Medway College of Art, where her mother was a lecturer, and London’s Royal College of Art. Rhodes founded her own label in order to build garments around her prints. Her first, 1969 collection, Knitted Circle, was famously worn by Natalie Wood in Vogue magazine; the evening coat is now in the collection of the V&A:

Natalie Wood wears a screen-printed felt evening coat and silk chiffon dress, both by Zandra Rhodes. Vogue, January 1970. Photo: Gianni Penati. Image via Youthquakers.

Rhodes became known as the Princess of Punk following her Spring 1977 torn and safety-pinned Conceptual Chic collection, which was partly inspired by Schiaparelli’s Tears dress.

Wedding dress and dress from Zandra Rhodes' Spring 1977 collection

A wedding dress and dress from Zandra Rhodes’ Spring 1977 collection at the PUNK: Chaos to Couture exhibit, 2014. Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

By the 1980s Rhodes was designing for Princess Diana. The princess wore this pink chiffon dress, embellished with crystal beads and pearl droplets, during her 1986 state visit to Japan (now in the collection of Historic Royal Palaces):

Zandra Rhodes sketch for Princes Diana. Image via SDNews.

In 1985, Style Patterns released a handful of Zandra Rhodes sewing patterns. Rhodes was among the first designers to be included in the company’s short-lived designer line. (See my earlier posts on Bruce Oldfield and Frederick Fox.)

Style 4399 is a pattern for a wedding or evening dress in two lengths with characteristic serated frill:

1980s Zandra Rhodes formal dress pattern - Style 4399

Style 4399 by Zandra Rhodes (1985) Image via Etsy.

Style 4399 schematic

Back view for Style 4399 (1985)

Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Lined Wedding Dress or Evening Dress in Two Lengths — Dress has shoulder yoke with serrated frill and pointed cape effect on bodice. Skirt has elasticated waistline. Model 1 bead trim is used on yoke and neck tie. Suggested fabrics: Lightweight silk types, crepe de chine, chiffon, shantung, lace, voile, batiste, organza. Lining: Jap silk, crepe de chine. Trim: wide ribbon and pearl beading or narrow ribbon.

Style 4400 is an off-the-shoulder wedding or bridesmaid’s dress with separate petticoat:

1980s Zandra Rhodes formal dress pattern - Style 4400

Style 4400 by Zandra Rhodes (1985)

Style 4400 schematic

Technical drawing for Style 4400 (1985)

The envelope description reads: Misses’ Half-Lined Wedding Dress or Bridesmaid’s Dress and Petticoat — Dress has flounced bodice with elasticated waist. Skirt has layered net frills, with gathered net and ribbon trim. Bride and bridesmaid’s dress has petticoat in fabric and net. Suggested fabrics: Dress, Models 1 and 2: Organza, voile, silk or synthetic sheers, lightweight lace. Lining: silk types, taffeta, satin (nap irrelevant). Net or tulle: silk, nylon. Trim: wide ribbon, sequin trim, narrow ribbon.

The third dress design, Style 4400, has a low back décolletage and multi-tiered skirt:

1980s Zandra Rhodes dress pattern - Style 4495

Style 4495 by Zandra Rhodes (1985)

Style 4495 schematic

Technical drawing for Style 4495 (1985)

You can see the same pattern with updated envelope here.

Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Dress in Two Lengths — Dress has fitted bodice with elasticated waistline. Models 1 and 3 have bodice frill to waistline. Model 2 has shorter bodice frill. Models 1 and 2 have four-tiered skirt flounce. Model 3 has three-tiered skirt flounce. Suggested fabrics: Chiffon, georgette, voile, silk or synthetic sheers, organza. Also: lightweight lining fabric. Trim: wide ribbon; pearl trim (views 1 and 2).

The designs seem to be from Rhodes’ Spring 1985 collection, Images of Woman:

Zandra Rhodes SS1985 a

Zandra Rhodes Spring/Summer 1985 collection. Image via UCA Library.

Zandra Rhodes SS1985 b

Zandra Rhodes Spring/Summer 1985 collection. Image via UCA Library.

The trim and fabric specifications are catalogues of girliness: lightweight, floaty fabrics to be trimmed with the ribbon, sequins, and pearls. I love how Style 4495 suggests lining fabric as an alternative—perhaps with a budget-conscious youth market in mind.

For more on Zandra Rhodes, see the V&A’s article.

Early Sixties Chinoiserie

September 7, 2015 § 2 Comments

Maggie Cheung in Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000) Image via WWD.

This year’s big Costume Institute exhibit, China: Through the Looking Glass, broke the attendance record previously set by Savage Beauty in 2011 to become the Met’s most-visited costume exhibit. (See WWD.) Andrew Bolton’s catalogue, illustrated with original photography by Platon, is available from Yale University Press.

Andrew Bolton, China: Through the Looking Glass. Fashion, Film, Art (2015) Image via Yale University Press.

One of the show’s major draws was Wong Kar-wai’s art direction, with styling by William Chang Suk-ping. (See Rosemary Feitelberg, “Chinese Arts Examined at the Met” or read the press release here.) Like Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men and mid-century American dress, Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000) and 2046 (2004), with costume design by William Chang, have virtually defined the image of mid-century Hong Kong fashion.

It’s possible to find vintage sewing patterns showing a Chinese influence, especially cheongsam patterns, from about the 1950s on. The earliest Vogue patterns I’ve found that show a Chinese influence date to the early 1960s.

Two circa 1962 Vogue patterns I’ve had in the shop got me thinking about early ’60s Chinoiserie. One is for a cheongsam and pants, the other for a cocktail dress and sheer cape or ‘Ming’ stole:

1960s cheongsam and pants pattern - Vogue 5571

Vogue 5571 (c. 1962) Cheongsam and slim pants. Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

1960s Ming stole and dress pattern - Vogue 5648

Vogue 5648 (c. 1962) Cocktail dress with ‘Ming’ cape stole. Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Interestingly, although Vogue 5571 is clearly a pattern for a cheongsam or qipao, the envelope text says nothing to identify the garment as Chinese. Vogue 5648, on the other hand, calls its voluminous coverup a ‘Ming’ stole—a garment for which I can find no evidence whatsoever.

The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) is known for its voluminous clothing. Vogue 5648’s Ming stole has deep, two-piece sleeves and back fullness released from gathers at the neckline. Here’s the back view:

Back views, Vogue 5648 dress and Ming stole

Back views for Vogue 5648 (c. 1962)

The back neckline detail recalls this Balenciaga evening wrap featured in an earlier Costume Institute exhibit, Orientalism: Visions of the East in Western Dress:

1950s pink Balenciaga evening wrap in the collection of the Costume Institute

Balenciaga evening wrap, 1954-55. Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

By contrast, the instantly recognizable cheongsam or qipao is a product of the modern period, a hybrid garment with a complex history traceable to Manchu dress in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Vogue Patterns’ mid-century Chinoiserie seems inseparable from the context of the Cold War. In 1962, it had been just over a decade since Mao’s 1949 proclamation of the People’s Republic of China. The Hollywood films Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955) and The World of Suzie Wong (1960) had helped popularize the cheongsam in the West with their depictions of love affairs between an American man and a qipao-clad Chinese woman in mid-century Hong Kong.

Poster for Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing Jennifer Jones wearing a cheongsam

Jennifer Jones wears a cheongsam on the poster for Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955) Image via Wikipedia.

Poster for The World of Suzie Wong starring Nancy Kwan

Nancy Kwan wears a cheongsam (upper left) on the poster for The World of Suzie Wong (1960) Image via Business Week.

Nancy Kwan on the cover of Life magazine, October 24, 1960 - CHSA

Nancy Kwan on the cover of Life magazine, October 24, 1960. Image via the Chinese Historical Society of America.

For more on the cheongsam/qipao see Juanjuan Wu, “Reinvented Identity: The Qipao and Tang-Style Jacket,” chapter 6 of Chinese Fashion: From Mao to Now (Berg 2009).

For discussion of the exhibit see Holland Cotter, “In ‘China: Through the Looking Glass,’ Eastern Culture Meets Western Fashion” and Susie Bubble, “Through the Chinese Looking Glass.”

Happy Labour Day, everyone!

Patterns in Vogue: It’s a Long Story…

August 11, 2015 § 2 Comments


Detail, Vogue, November 1996. Photo: Mario Testino. Editor: Paul Cavaco.

“It’s a Long Story…” is a 1996 editorial by Mario Testino featuring Nadja Auermann, Kylie Bax, and Chandra North in the season’s long, lean silhouettes. Two photos in the editorial show a Vogue dress pattern.

The first is a detail shot showcasing the Chanel cosmetics and Judith Leiber minaudière. Auermann’s white, viscose jersey dress is Ralph Lauren Collection, while Bax’s “black reversible-to-blue column dress” was made from a Vogue pattern:

"Fashion goes to great lengths to toe the long, thin line. For evening dressing or urbane outerwear, the lean look continues to rule." Mario Testino for Vogue, November 1996.

Vogue, November 1996. Photo: Mario Testino. Editor: Paul Cavaco.

The second photo shows the minimalist dresses in full length. The caption reads, “Although they lean to the glamorous, this season’s matte-jersey dresses are essentially spare, understated designs”:

VogueNov1996_V9469 Cuff: Janis Savitt for M+J Savitt. Sandals: Stuart Weitzman and Calvin Klein.

Right, Ralph Lauren Collection; left, Vogue 9469. Vogue, November 1996. Photo: Mario Testino. Editor: Paul Cavaco.

The pattern is view C of Vogue Easy Options pattern Vogue 9469, as always “edited by Vogue.” The edits seem to consist of lengthening the dress to below ankle length, making it reversible, and removing the back slit for a hobble silhouette. (Jersey from New York’s B&J Fabrics.)


July 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

Iman photographed by Norman Parkinson for the cover of Vogue Italia, March 1976

Iman on the cover of Vogue Italia, March 1976. Photo: Norman Parkinson. Image via eBay.

Iman (b. 1955) turns sixty today. Born Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid in Mogadishu, Somalia, she and her family fled to Kenya after the 1969 military coup, where she was discovered while a student in Nairobi by photographer Peter Beard. She soon became the first African supermodel, later founding Iman Cosmetics. (For more on Iman’s early career, watch Vogue Italia’s video interview, or read a 2014 Guardian profile here.)

Iman in Chanel couture with David Bowie, photographed by Bruce Weber for Vogue Italia, 1995

Iman and David Bowie in Vogue Italia, August 1995. Photo: Bruce Weber. Image via

Iman can be seen on a handful of Vogue Patterns, circa 1980, as well as pattern editorials in Vogue Patterns and Vogue magazine.

From Jean Muir, Vogue 2399 is a long-sleeved, blouson dress with matching scarf:

Iman wears a blue Jean Muir dress pattern - Vogue 2399, circa 1980

Vogue 2399 by Jean Muir (ca. 1980)

Vogue 2400 is an Emanuel Ungaro skirt suit with striped, quilted jacket and tucked blouse:

Iman on the cover of a 1980s Emanuel Ungaro suit pattern - Vogue 2400

Vogue 2400 by Emanuel Ungaro (ca. 1980) Image via Etsy.

From Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue 2404 is a skirt suit with contrast standing collar and turn-back cuffs:

Iman wears an Yves Saint Laurent skirt suit, circa 1980 - Vogue 2404

Vogue 2404 by Yves Saint Laurent (1980) Image via Etsy.

In a 1977 Vogue Patterns editorial in Vogue magazine, the young Iman wears a top (Vogue 9798) and drawstring pants (Vogue 9493) with a Liberty-print sarong:

Iman photographed by Bob Richardson in Vogue 9798 and 9493 for Vogue magazine, May 1977

Iman in Vogue 9798 and 9493, Vogue, May 1977. Photo: Bob Richardson. Image via the Fashion Spot.

(Reposted from the Fashion Spot Iman thread.)

Iman also appears with Karen Bjornson in a Vogue Patterns blouse editorial by Patrick Demarchelier from summer, 1979. Here she wears Vogue 7413 (with Bjornson in Vogue 2185 by Renata):

Iman and Karen Bjornson in blouses Vogue 7413 and Vogue 2185 by Renata, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier, 1979

Iman and Karen Bjornson in Vogue Patterns, July/August 1979. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier.

On the left, Iman wears Vogue 7234 (the envelope shows Gia Carangi; with Bjornson in Vogue 7392); on the right, her wrap-front blouse is Very Easy Vogue 7373 (with Bjornson in Vogue 7435 – click to enlarge):

The New Suitors, 1979: Vogue 7234 and 7392; Very Easy Vogue 7373 and Vogue 7435

Iman and Karen Bjornson in Vogue Patterns, July/August 1979. Photos: Patrick Demarchelier.

Just for fun, here’s another early Iman cover from the same period as her commercial pattern work (photographer unknown; later used by German Cosmo):

Iman Italian Cosmopolitan cover, June 1980

Iman on the cover of Cosmopolitan Italia, June 1980. Image via Modelinia/Fashion Bomb daily.

Happy birthday, Iman!

With thanks to vegas4001 for the Vogue Italia photographer credit.

Pan Am Games 2015, Vintage Pattern Edition: Equestrian

July 24, 2015 § 4 Comments

This week I’m looking at vintage patterns showing sports of the Pan Am Games. (See the first post here.) Today: a 1930s equestrian pattern.

Equestrian. This Depression-era pattern for fall-front jodhpurs has jaunty cuffed trousers, the requisite reinforced inner leg, and three pocket pieces, including one for a watch pocket:

1930s jodhpurs sewing pattern - Butterick 5647

Butterick 5647 (ca. 1934) Image via Etsy.

(Click the image to see sold listing with back of envelope.)

Interestingly, this copy of Butterick 5647 is stamped Pattern Made in Canada. Although the pattern was produced in women’s, misses’ and girls’ sizes, the early equestrian patterns that survive are usually in smaller sizes—intended for riding lessons, perhaps?

For more vintage equestrian patterns see my Year of the Horse post.

Pan Am Games 2015, Vintage Pattern Edition: Cycling

July 23, 2015 § 3 Comments

This week I’m looking at vintage patterns showing sports of the Pan Am Games. (See the first post here.) Today: a pattern for cycling.

Cycling. This cycling illustration graced the cover of the summer 1938 issue of Vogue Pattern Book:

Late 1930s Vogue Pattern Book with cycling illustration

Vogue Pattern Book, June/July 1938. Image via eBay.

The pattern is Vogue 8014, a sport or evening frock, bolero, and calot (hat) in the collection of CoPA:

1930s sports dress, bolero, and hat pattern - Vogue 8014

Vogue 8014 (1938) Image via the Commercial Pattern Archive. For research purposes only.

Pan Am Games 2015, Vintage Pattern Edition: Bowling

July 22, 2015 § 2 Comments

This week I’m looking at vintage patterns showing sports of the Pan Am Games. (See the first post here.) Today: a mid-century bowling pattern.

Bowling. This early 1960s pattern from Simplicity includes an “action back” shirt and skirt in two lengths. The skirt has inverted pleats in front and back; the shirt, which may be monogrammed, has pleats at the back shoulder seams:

Early 1960s women's bowling pattern - Simplicity 4648

Simplicity 4648 (ca. early 1960s) Image via Etsy.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 961 other followers

%d bloggers like this: