November 30, 2014 § 2 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.
November 28, 2014 § 6 Comments
With her Fall 2014 collection, Donna Karan celebrated the 30th anniversary of her label. This new series marks this milestone with highlights of almost three decades of Donna Karan sewing patterns.
Donna Karan (b. 1948) was born Donna Faske in Queens, New York to parents in the fashion industry. She attended Parsons School of Design before beginning her career at Anne Klein. In 1984, after over fifteen years at Anne Klein, Karan left to launch her own label. Her first collection, Seven Easy Pieces, explored the concept of layering mix-and-match pieces over a ‘body’ (a snap-crotch bodysuit) and laid the foundation for her brand. (See a New York Times timeline here.)
Vogue Patterns’ licensing began two years after Seven Easy Pieces. Karan was introduced to readers in the September/October 1987 (or Autumn 1987) issue of Vogue Patterns magazine:
In an editorial photographed by Benoit Malphettes, Suzanne Lanza models the four new patterns for a Donna Karan wardrobe. The designs were from the current, Fall/Winter 1987-88 collection (see Bernadine Morris, “Beene and Karan Redefine Today’s Luxury” or watch a runway video on YouTube):
(Scans via Top Models of the World.)
Vogue 1958 is a bias coat and draped, long-sleeved dress:
Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Coat & Dress. Very loose-fitting, unlined, A-Line, bias coat, above mid-knee, has front extending into standing back neckline and long sleeves. No Provision for Above-Waist Adjustment. Tapered dress, above mid-knee, has draped neckline extending into collar and long sleeves, shoulder pads, front pleated and gathered waist, side front pockets, front zipper (skirt), underarm gusset and elasticized back waist (no seam).
A black, wool knit version of the Vogue 1958 dress is in the collection of the Museum at FIT, where it was featured in the 2008 exhibition Arbiters of Style: Women at the Forefront of Fashion:
Vogue 1960 is a double-breasted jacket with elasticized back detail. The design was also featured on the fall magazine cover shown above:
The envelope description reads: Misses’ Jacket. Loose-fitting, lined, below hip, double-breasted jacket has notched collar, shoulder pads, welt and buttonhole pockets, side back seams, elasticized, side back-button tab and long, two-piece sleeves with button vent. Purchased top.
Vogue 1961 may look like a set of tops, but it’s really two tops—one bias, the other for stretch knits—and a bodysuit:
Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Top and Bodysuit. Loose fitting top has long sleeves. A: wrap, bias, draped front extends to tucked back collar, attached to tie ends. B: mock front wrap, shoulder pads, tucked front extends into single layer tie ends (wrong side may show) and back zipper. Bodysuit has notched collar, dropped shoulders, shoulder pads, mock front band, yoke with forward shoulder seams, very loose fitting blouson bodice, back pleat, elastic (seamed) waist, and lower edge, snap crotch closing and long sleeves with placket, pleats and button cuffs. Purchased trim.
Vogue 1962 provides the bottoms shown on Vogue 1961: a high-waisted skirt and softly pleated skirt or pants:
The envelope description reads: Misses’ Skirt, Pants & Stole. Straight or tapered skirt (no side seams), above mid-knee or tapered pants have back zipper. No provision for shortening or lengthening for skirt B. A: bias front, no waistband, and side back seams. B: lined. Skirt B, Pants: front pleats, partially elasticized waistband and pockets. Single layer stole has narrow hem. Purchased top.
Just for fun, here’s a Patrick Demarchelier editorial photo of Paulina Porizkova in an ensemble from the Fall 1987 collection:
Next in the series: Donna Karan patterns from the late 1980s and early 1990s.
November 11, 2014 § 6 Comments
This year marks the centennial of the beginning of World War 1. In honour of Armistice Day, this post looks at commercial sewing patterns associated with the First World War.
This illustration from the July 1917 issue of McCall’s magazine shows McCall patterns suitable for war work: a nurse’s uniform, apron, and cap, and outdoor workwear including women’s overalls (patent pending):
Official Red Cross patterns exemplify the volunteer production of clothing and medical supplies that formed part of the war effort. American Red Cross patterns were published by multiple American pattern companies, while in the U.K., British Red Cross sewing and knitting instructions were available in several books by Emily Peek.* In Canada, volunteers sewing for the Canadian Red Cross may have used both British and American resources.
The McCall Fashions for February 1918 gives a list of American Red Cross patterns for garments to be used in hospitals and refugee camps; the cover illustration shows three women dressed “For the visit to the camp”:
The inside front cover lists two types of official American Red Cross pattern: “for the relief of refugees and repatriates in the war-stricken countries, particularly in France and Belgium” and for hospital garments. The illustrations show an infant’s layette, unisex children’s cape, reversible bed jacket, and trench foot slipper (click to enlarge):
A news article from June, 1918 discusses the most needed hospital garments and supplies corrections for two refugee garment patterns. It seems the “helpless case shirt” (for patients with arm injuries) was available in two versions:
(Full archived version here.)
Andrea of Unsung Sewing Patterns has a copy of the “helpless case shirt,” Red Cross 35—more sensitively called a taped hospital bed shirt:
(See Unsung Sewing Patterns for more Red Cross refugee patterns.)
A 1917 article in McCall’s magazine describes the Red Cross relief effort and seven new patterns for hospital work. It presents sewing as an alternative to nursing, for which fewer women were qualified, arguing that “[s]ewing may not seem to many as romantic as nursing the wounded upon the battlefield, but without it the nursing might be useless.” Interestingly, official American Red Cross patterns were at first distributed through the organization’s national headquarters, but later became available directly to the public (click to enlarge):
On the right, readers found descriptions of the new patterns, accompanied by photographs showing Red Cross officials Jane A. Delano and Clara D. Noyes, and women in a Red Cross chapter at work:
The illustrations of the new patterns seek to include the Red Cross sewing effort in the romance of nursing. Here a nurse serves a meal to a patient who is wearing McCall Special C, a hospital bed shirt:
McCall Special P is a pair of pajamas:
To be made from one or two blankets, McCall Special O is a bathrobe or convalescent gown:
McCall Special R is a Red Cross Surgeon’s and Nurse’s operating gown—a unisex medical uniform available in two sizes:
The illustration of the Red Cross nurse also shows the McCall Special S operating helmet:
The Commercial Pattern Archive has both sizes of McCall Special R its collection. The larger is reproduced in Joy Emery’s new book:
Do you have any World War I patterns in your collection?
* Seligman, Cutting for All! (Southern Illinois UP, 1996), pp. 123-24, cited in Emery, A History of the Paper Pattern Industry (Bloomsbury, 2014), p. 91. A digitized version of Emily Peek, Practical Instruction in Cutting Out and Making Up Hospital Garments for Sick and Wounded: Approved by the Red Cross Society (British Red Cross Society, 1914), is available through the University of Southampton.
November 7, 2014 § 2 Comments
This Halloween I went as Lyanna Stark. Full post to come when I’ve had the chance to do a real photo shoot…
Hope everyone had a great Halloween!
November 2, 2014 § 2 Comments
“Hush,” one of the strongest and spookiest episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, stars a model-turned-actor who appeared on Vogue patterns in the mid-1990s. Giles’ girlfriend Olivia is played by Phina Oruche (b. 1972). Born in Toxteth, Liverpool to Nigerian parents, Oruche was a successful model in London and New York before she won her first role in Sydney Pollack’s remake of Sabrina (1995).
Here Oruche models Vogue 1328, Issey Miyake’s jacket, top, and hammer pants:
Vogue 1344 is an ensemble consisting of a top, high-waisted pants, and jacket with custom closures from Anne Klein II:
Here Oruche shows off the lace-up back of Vogue 1353, a summer dress by Betty Jackson:
Ornate trim highlights the seam detail on Vogue 1354, a top and skirt by Geoffrey Beene:
Just for fun, here’s a recent portrait of Oruche by Paul Jones:
The Gentlemen are coming…
September 30, 2014 § 9 Comments
The playsuit bodice and shorts are pleated into a pointed, one-piece midriff band, and the whole thing closes at the front with a zipper and buttons. I love the shaped side vents on the shorts.
I used a black glitter stretch knit from my stash, found at Fabricland’s old downtown location. The pattern needed extensive resizing. Due to the mid-1970s unofficial sizing change (thanks to Peter for drawing my attention to this) the 10 was fine on top. (That’s my copy on the wiki.) I added some ease to the midriff band and adjusted the bodice and shorts to match up to it. I also lengthened the rise, added to the crotch length, and slashed to add some room in the hips. Yes, it’s a stretch knit, but I was trying to be faithful to the ease of the original.
This was my first time sewing a McCall’s “Carefree” pattern, and I found the instructions involved a little guesswork. I have also made up a ’70s Vogue pattern with similar design elements—midriff band, pleated dirndl skirt—and can vouch for Vogue’s more extensive markings and instructions. The McCall’s didn’t even have markings for the buttonholes. I carefully followed Vogue Sewing Book’s buttonhole instructions, but I suspect I made them too big. Perhaps vertical buttonholes would solve the problem?
If I were to make the playsuit again, I would add markings to the midriff piece to help line up the side seams etc., and also ease stitch across all the pleats (rather than just hand basting) to keep everything in place. The instructions say to finish the shorts with a narrow hem; I couldn’t see that working with my knit and the shaped side vents, so I did my best to mimic a serger finish (zigzag, trim, topstitch) and pressed the sides into relative submission. If I were making it again I would use fusible stay tape.
The sparkle only shows up close:
Here’s a view of the back pleats:
The playsuit is so strappy, short, and unstructured that it falls more into the realm of loungewear. It’s a bit more practical when worn with a coverup.
(Sandals: Gareth Pugh for Melissa)
(Cross-posted to We Sew Retro.)
September 1, 2014 § 2 Comments
In honour of Labour Day, this models post is devoted to iconic model and political activist Benedetta Barzini.
Benedetta Barzini (b. 1943) grew up in Porto Santo Stefano and New York City. She worked as a model in New York for four years after being discovered by Diana Vreeland. Here she appears on the cover of Vogue Italia’s inaugural issue:
Although Barzini returned to Italy to act, in the early 1970s she left acting and modelling to pursue Marxist-feminist teaching and political activism. She returned to modelling in the late 1980s. As of 2013 Barzini was a Professor of Fashion and Anthropology at the Polytechnic Institute of Milan. (Recent interview here.)
I have seen only one Vogue pattern with Barzini on the envelope. In 1967, Len Steckler photographed her in Vogue 1775 by Chuck Howard, a pattern from the new Vogue Americana line:
Barzini was also featured on the cover of the Vogue Patterns catalogue for August 1967:
Happy Labour Day, everyone!