January 22, 2014 § 10 Comments
Have you heard? The house of Schiaparelli, founded by the legendary Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) and dormant since 1954, has been revived.
Last year Christian Lacroix presented a one-off couture collection for the house, and this week the new head designer, Marco Zanini, presented his first Schiaparelli collection at the Paris couture. (See the Spring 2014 collection on style.com, or read W’s coverage of Zanini’s appointment here.)
The high-profile revival follows the Costume Institute’s major 2012 exhibition, Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations (see my earlier post here). And, timed to coincide with couture week, an auction of Schiaparelli’s personal collection takes place Thursday at Christie’s Paris:
Many of you will be aware of Schiaparelli’s licensed sewing patterns, since she was among the first designers of Vogue Paris Originals. There were also Schiaparelli knitting patterns. If you knit, you can download a free pattern for Schiaparelli’s 1927 Bowknot sweater, updated by Lisa Stockebrand (Ravelry page here):
Like Vionnet, Schiaparelli also saw commercial sewing patterns for her designs in the interwar period, released by companies including the McCall Pattern Company, Pictorial Review, and the Paris Pattern Company. Here is a selection of early Schiaparelli patterns.
This McCall pattern is the earliest Schiaparelli pattern I’ve seen. Dating to the autumn of 1929, it’s a pattern for a blouse, skirt, and coat with angled pockets. It was still shown in a 1930 catalogue:
Here is the illustration of McCall 5839 in McCall’s magazine:
This Schiaparelli pattern from the Paris Pattern Company has some unusual details. The wrap skirt buttons diagonally across the hips and has two slits through which the blouse’s attached scarf can pass, for a suspender effect:
McCall 6981 is a three-piece suit consisting of a jacket, cropped pussy-bow blouse, and sleeveless, bias dress:
Here’s an illustration of this design (centre, no. 14) in the summer 1932 issue of McCall Fashion Bi-Monthly. Elsewhere it calls McCall 6981 a “trick” ensemble, since the blouse and jacket disguise a dress suitable for tennis:
This Benito illustration for Vogue shows a similar Schiaparelli ensemble, worn with a tomato red Sicilian cap:
This Pictorial Review Schiaparelli adaptation dates to late 1933. The dress has interesting details like shoulder flanges, diagonal waist darts, and inverted darts radiating from the neckline:
Here’s the catalogue illustration for Pictorial Review 6764:
Paris Pattern 2286, illustrated in my 1934 Paris and Style Patterns booklet, is a jaunty ensemble consisting of a coat, skirt, and jacket blouse. The description reads, “A superb town and country suit. Just the thing for that week end vacation. Top coat can be worn over any dress. The skirt and jacket blouse make an ideal spectator costume”:
Also in this leaflet is the Schiaparelli dress and capelet ensemble available as a reproduction from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library. The dress has shoulder yokes, puffed sleeves, and a skirt with pointed set-in panels and pair of buttons at the waist; the matching capelet is trimmed with pleating and buttons to the skirt front. Thanks to owner Deirdre Duggan for providing a scan of the envelope:
Finally, from McCall’s, this Schiaparelli dinner dress in two lengths dates to winter 1936-37. The bodice back extends into sleeves that are gathered into a heart-shaped bodice:
The pattern is illustrated in the January 1937 issue of McCall’s magazine, which made much of the new, street-length hemline:
Schiaparelli patterns from between the wars tend to lack the surrealist touches we associate with the designer, since many of these were based on couture embellishment, accessories, or notions. (Cricket buttons, anyone?) I remember reading a contemporary 1930s article that said Schiaparelli pieces were so simple, they were too easy to copy. Today one might say it’s her brand of dynamic severity that makes her clothes seem so modern.
November 9, 2013 § 14 Comments
I love vintage swimwear. (See my post on vintage beachwear patterns here.) It’s also been years since I had a bathing suit; somehow I can never make myself shop for one. So I resolved to make a vintage swimsuit using the Vintage Fashion Library’s reproduction of Simplicity 7041, VFL 145.
Based on the envelope design and that of the consecutively numbered Simplicity 7042, a lingerie set with bloomers, I would date the pattern to circa 1929. (On the development of the 1920s swimsuit see Bomber Girl’s post here.)
These two George Hoyningen-Huene photos of Patou swimsuits from the late ’20s served as reference and inspiration for me:
The original pattern instructions give a charming description: “7041: Style for chic and for good swimming. It has a smart belted waistline, buttoned shoulder straps, and a round neckline. Style 1: A one-piece suit for the very active swimmer who demands plenty of freedom. Style 2: A two-piece suit which looks well on the taller woman. With deep V-back.” The pointed, lapped lower bodice seam is a nice Deco detail, which could be brought out further by making the attached shorts in a contrasting fabric.
I made the one-piece with scoop back. I found some lightly textured, black swimwear fabric on sale at King Textiles’ old location, with matching white fabric for a contrast belt. To face the upper bodice and belt I used tricot interfacing/lining from Designer Fabrics, where I also got some plain 1″ buttons. The 1.5″ belt buckle is from Leather & Sewing Supply Depot (now at 204 Spadina).
I needed to grade down the repro’s B38 to fit me. Even then I had to take in the suit at the upper side seams. The straps were made slightly shorter and narrower as part of the grading, but the length of the shorts was unaltered. I added white topstitching along the top and bottom edges of the bodice, with contrasting black topstitching on the white belt.
The cut of the shorts is in the old style, which takes some getting used to. Here is a view of the suit, shown flat:
Naomi and I took some photos of the swimsuit at the old Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion. This archival photo shows the pavilion in its heyday:The pavilion’s grand, Beaux-Arts archway records the year it opened to the public, 1922:
As Naomi pointed out, the suit is basically a playsuit, and with heels and a coverup it didn’t feel too odd walking down Queen Street West to the beach.
I was able to cheat and make the buttons non-functional:
I had trouble deciding how to fit the suit. Although period photographs show knit swimsuits that cling to the body, the illustration shows a looser-fitting suit. Since I wanted to swim in it, I wasn’t aiming for an authentic reproduction. (Wool is just not an option.) But having made it up, it’s clear the suit would drape better in a lighter swimwear fabric. I may try the low-backed, skirted view for next summer…
(Cross-posted to We Sew Retro.)
February 14, 2013 § 5 Comments
In honour of Valentine’s Day, some mid-Twenties illustrations for McCall lingerie patterns including embroidery transfers. The heading reads, “Embroideries That Lend Irresistible Charm to the Intimate Garments.”
From the numbering, I’d say the page dates to circa 1925, when these types of pattern were the only ones to have colour envelopes.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!
December 13, 2012 § 17 Comments
The reputation of Madeleine Vionnet (1876-1975), the brilliant innovator in draping and the bias cut, has only increased with time. The label she founded in 1912 was recently revived, and Betty Kirke’s book is back in print for the house’s 100th anniversary. You can see Vionnet pieces online at the V&A and the Costume Institute. There’s even an animated video on Vimeo demonstrating the construction of one Vionnet dress. (For more on Vionnet, see Lisa’s Coletterie post; Betty Kirke’s 1989 Threads article; and Sandra Ericson’s revised 2010 Threads article, in pdf here.)
In recent years, those who wished to reproduce a Vionnet design could trace their pattern from a book. Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen’s Dresses and their Construction, c. 1860-1940 (Macmillan, 1982) includes five Vionnet patterns, and the Japanese companion volume to Kirke’s book (Bunka Fashion College, 2002; available on amazon.co.jp) contains tested, traceable versions of twenty-eight of Kirke’s Vionnet patterns. Costumer Koshka has made the 1919 Vionnet dress in Patterns of Fashion, while the Vionnet Identique project saw all the designs in Kirke’s book made up in half-scale for an exhibition and book (for photos see this Threads post and the book preview).
In the 1920s and 1930s, dressmakers could sew Vionnet designs using commercial patterns. McCall’s released patterns based on Vionnet originals, while companies like Pictorial Review sold adaptations of Vionnet designs. Here is a selection of Vionnet patterns.
These two patterns for a negligee and day dress date to 1926. The negligee is reversible:
Vionnet was known for her robes à mouchoirs, or handkerchief dresses, like this evening dress:
This formal dress is another handkerchief dress. Note the triangular sleeve insets:
Here’s a magazine illustration of McCall 5635 from the following year. The accompanying text reads, “A Vionnet gown characteristic of the graceful new formal frocks is simply made to fall in points at the center front and at the sides and back”:
Both McCall’s and Pictorial Review released patterns for this circa 1931 ensemble:
McCall’s magazine showed two illustrations for this design (McCall 6451); the text on the first page reads, “A masterpiece in simplicity that only Vionnet could have created. The chic contrasting bodice top is sleeveless and joins the skirt in a coat-dress closing”:
The ensemble was also illustrated on the cover of McCall Style News shown at the top of this post. Here’s the full illustration:
This 1932 Pictorial Review design for an asymmetrical day dress was adapted from Vionnet. The skirt and applied front are cut on the bias:
Here’s the corresponding illustration in Pictorial Review magazine. The accompanying text reads, “Yes, it’s a Vionnet, we knew you would recognize it in the characteristic handling of the diagonal seaming, in the clever use of button trimming, and in its absolute simplicity. Make it in a sheer linen with contrasting button accents”:
Finally, a three-piece suit pattern from the same year, consisting of a short-sleeved blouse, high-waisted suspender skirt, and jacket that criss-crosses in the front:
This illustration for McCall 6999 accompanies a trend report on suits:
Madeleine Vionnet is said to have considered herself a “geometrician”; the brilliance of her technique reveals itself in her garments’ construction. Have you tried making any Vionnet designs?
October 5, 2012 § 2 Comments
My 1926 copy of Vogue’s Book of Practical Dressmaking has endpapers charmingly illustrated by W. Mury. They’re a great example of aspirational marketing in that they situate the dressmaking process in a world of wealth and leisure. The illustrations show the elegant dressmaker beginning by consulting her copy of Vogue magazine before her trip into town:
Madame’s driver waits outside with the car during her visit to a department store. In the Vogue department, sales attendants measure her and show her the latest patterns and Vogue-approved fabrics:
Back at home she cuts, sews, and finishes her new dress, which sets her “apart from the crowd”:
Mury’s illustrated sequence presents sewing as a leisure activity: guided by Vogue’s fashion authority, the chic young woman sews for pleasure. It’s interesting how, with the increasing availability of ready-made women’s wear, the sewing industry took to promoting itself by appealing to the desire for leisure and social status. Even if a car and driver weren’t in the budget, you could still sew from a Vogue pattern.
May 13, 2012 § 1 Comment
In my collection of Twenties patterns I have a group of children’s patterns that are shown in the McCall’s Quarterly for Winter 1926-27. (Many thanks to Debby for sharing the images.) I noticed something interesting about the envelope engravings. Observe:
Special engravings for the smaller sizes! Here’s another example from my collection:
Have you seen this on children’s patterns from other decades?
Happy Mother’s Day!
March 9, 2012 § 1 Comment
Watching this year’s Oscars red carpet pre-show, I was struck by the Deco details on Louise Roe’s custom Black Halo dress, with its geometric, layered peplum and rhinestone buckle. (Details on the dress here.)
Spring’s Deco trend is gathering force. In September, many of the Spring ready-to-wear collections contained references to the Twenties and Thirties. There was flapper fringe at Marchesa and geometric dévoré at Alberta Ferretti. Veronica Etro found inspiration in two avant-garde art movements of the early twentieth century: Futurism and Constructivism. (See the collection statement here.) And Marc Jacobs resurrected the Twenties drop waist:
Two of the most sustained interpretations of the Deco influence were made by Gucci and Ralph Lauren. At Gucci, Frida Giannini was inspired by New York skyscrapers. In this campaign image, one of the collection’s fringed and beaded dresses is paired with a very Deco minaudière:
Patrick Demarchelier’s recent Vogue Italia editorial, “The Outstanding MCB,” casts Mariacarla Boscono as a Gucci-clad flapper:
(The Artist’s Bérénice Bejo was photographed in a similar Gucci dress for Vanity Fair’s March issue—in the Contents section, not the Hollywood portfolio, where she wears Ralph Lauren.)
Ralph Lauren presented a Gatsby-themed collection for Spring 2012, full of delicate beading, bias gowns, and three-piece suits in pastels and pinstripes. Cloches, boas, and long scarves or strands of beads completed the looks. (See the collection on style.com here, or view the Vogue UK trend slideshow, “Gatsby Glamour.”)
The Ralph Lauren collection is well-represented on the cover of Vanity Fair’s March Hollywood issue (click image to enlarge):
Rooney Mara, Mia Wasikowska, and Shailene Woodley wear dresses and boas by Ralph Lauren, and Elisabeth Olsen and Lily Collins’ shoes (as well as Ms. Wasikowska’s) are also Ralph Lauren Collection. The cover photo was taken at a New York set inspired by the work of English interior designer Syrie Maugham.
This was a return to the Jazz Age idiom for Ralph Lauren: early in his career he was responsible for the menswear in the last film adaptation of The Great Gatsby (1974). As Nicole Phelps points out in her style.com review of Lauren’s collection, the designer got a jump start on the Twenties fever expected to follow the opening of Baz Luhrmann’s 3-D version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel this Christmas.
The bias evening dresses in Ralph Lauren’s Spring collection show the reach of the current Deco trend, beyond the Twenties into the Thirties and the glamour of Old Hollywood. Clothes on Film’s Chris Laverty has credited the current revival of classic Old Hollywood style to Keira Knightley’s green dress in Atonement (2007). HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and The Artist can’t help but give added momentum to a Deco revival.
The recent interpretations of Art Deco took varied approaches to their vintage inspiration. Collections like Gucci’s or Etro’s, which emphasized geometric prints and embellishment, are drawing on motifs from architecture and the old artistic avant-garde. When it comes to sewing patterns, Deco fashions tend to achieve their geometric look through contrast, trim, and seaming detail:
Marc Jacobs’ drop waists, often with blousing and soft detailing at the hipline, were most faithful to Twenties silhouettes, like this repro design from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library:
Despite the strong Twenties flavour to the daywear in Ralph Lauren’s Spring collection, for evening he reached for those mainstays of Thirties glamour, bias gowns and boas:
Even the masculine tailoring that punctuated the Daisy Buchanan girliness has a Thirties precedent, as shown by this pattern for a three-piece suit consisting of a waistcoat, double-breasted jacket, and cuffed trousers:
It’s funny how ‘Gatsby’ functions as shorthand for what we like about Twenties fashion. The Great Gatsby is set in the summer of 1922, but recent reinterpretations seem to favour mid-to-later ’20s styles. Here is a sample of 1922 eveningwear:
It’s been years since Vogue Patterns reissued any Deco-era eveningwear patterns. Vogue 2241 was released in 1998, Vogue 2609 in 2001, and Vogue V2859 in 2005. More Twenties and Thirties, please, Vintage Vogue!