The Look of Courrèges

January 29, 2016 § 9 Comments

Courrèges sunglasses - Simone D'Aillencourt photographed by Richard Avedon, 1965

Courrèges glasses, February 1965. Photo: Richard Avedon. Model: Simone D’Aillencourt. Image via the Richard Avedon Foundation.

André Courrèges died early this month. He was 92. (See WWD, “André Courrèges: Space Age Couturier,” or Vanessa Friedman’s obituary for The New York Times.)

1960s Vogue cover - Astrid Heeren in a white Courrèges bonnet photographed by Irving Penn

Courrèges hat, Vogue, November 15, 1964. Photo: Irving Penn. Model: Astrid Heeren. Image via Vogue.com.

Born in Pau, France, André Courrèges (1923-2016) initially became an engineer at his father’s behest. He changed careers after the Second World War, spending ten years at Balenciaga and founding his own couture house in 1961. His silver and white, spring 1964 “Space Age” collection made the Courrèges name with its futuristic, body-conscious, practical designs; a May, 1965 profile in Life magazine hailed him as “The Lord of the Space Ladies.” (See Patricia Peterson, “Courrèges Stresses Modern Look” [Spring 1964] and “Courrèges Is Star of Best Show Seen So Far” [Fall 1964]; on those otherworldly sunglasses, which reference Inuit snow-goggles, see FIDM’s note.) He retired in 1995.

1960s Vogue Paris cover featuring Maggie Eckhardt in a Courrèges ensemble

Courrèges ensemble, Vogue Paris, March 1965. Model: Maggie Eckhardt. Image via Pinterest.

In North America, licensed copies and other versions of Courrèges’ work were more common than couture originals. In the summer of 1965, McCall’s released nine patterns adapted from Courrèges. Six of these were photographed by Edward Pfizenmaier for “The Look of Courrèges,” an editorial in the Fall 1965 home catalogue. On the left is coat pattern McCall’s 7938; on the right, ensemble and dress patterns McCall’s 7932 and McCall’s 7918 (click to enlarge):

1960s Courrèges-look patterns McCall's 7938, 7932, and 7918 photographed by Edward Pfizenmaier for McCall's Pattern Fashions

“Precision… Proportion… Perfection! This is the Look of Courrèges,” McCall’s Pattern Fashions & Home Decorating, Fall-Winter 1965-66. Photos: Edward Pfizenmaier.

Here, on the left, jumper and blouse pattern McCall’s 7914; on the right, skirt suit McCall’s 7936 and jumper McCall’s 7940, made in a special Carletex fabric described as the “perfect medium for the ‘go-go’ look: washable cotton with the look and texture of leather” (all boots by Golo and Capezio):

1960s Courrèges-look patterns McCall's 7914, 7936, and 7923 photographed by Edward Pfizenmaier for McCall's Pattern Fashions

“This is the Look of Courrèges.” McCall’s Pattern Fashions & Home Decorating, Fall-Winter 1965-66. Photos: Edward Pfizenmaier.

This photo portfolio was followed by an illustrated Seventeen feature showing three more Courrèges-look patterns: jumper ensemble McCall’s 7903, dress McCall’s 7923, and hooded poncho McCall’s 7884. The textile credits are interesting: the jumper is shown in houndstooth Crompton corduroy; the dress in Burlington Dacron-cotton twill*; and the hooded poncho “in shiny make-believe black patent that’s actually vinyl-coated cotton by Landau”:

McCall's Pattern Fashions & Home Decorating, Fall-Winter 1965-66

Seventeen Magazine Seconds the Courrèges Look.” McCall’s Pattern Fashions & Home Decorating, Fall-Winter 1965-66.

A “Courrèges look” pattern also appears in the catalogue’s front pages, in a Crompton Corduroy ad that pairs McCall’s 7923 with op art by the late Marcel Barbeau:

"Crompton Corduroy just acts rich" - 1960s Crompton Corduroy advert featuring Marcel Barbeau art and a McCall's pattern

Crompton Corduroy advertisement featuring McCall’s 7923 after Courrèges, 1965.

As the catalogue reminds readers, McCall’s 7923 was also photographed for the cover of Seventeen magazine. The cover model for the “summer party issue” is Jennifer O’Neill, who would go on to star in David Cronenberg’s Scanners (1981); the matching hat seems to be an Adolfo version of a Courrèges original (see Sotheby’s and the Costume Institute):

1960s party issue cover of Seventeen magazine featuring Jennifer O'Neill in McCall's 7923 after Courrèges

McCall’s 7923 after Courrèges on the cover of Seventeen, July 1965. Model: Jennifer O’Neill. Image via eBay.

Inside, a McCall’s editorial shows popular teen model Colleen Corby photographed by Carmen Schiavone; here she wears McCall’s 7902 (far left) and McCall’s 7903 and 7884 after Courrèges (Adolfo II hats):

7902, 7903, 7884. Seventeen Jul 1965 via eBay

7902, 7903, 7884. Seventeen, July 1965. Model: Colleen Corby. Photos: Carmen Schiavone. Image via eBay.

Corby’s version of the McCall’s 7884 hooded poncho is shown in tomato red:

Seventeen Jul1965a

McCall’s after Courrèges in Seventeen, July 1965. Model: Colleen Corby. Photos: Carmen Schiavone. Image via eBay.

Here’s a look at McCall’s Courrèges-look patterns. McCall’s 7884 includes a sleeveless dress with low-slung, drawstring belt and an ultra-mod poncho with separate hood (available in the shop):

1960s poncho, hood, and dress pattern after Courrèges - McCall's 7884

McCall’s 7884 after Courrèges (1965) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

In addition to a U-neck jumper and pleated skirt, McCall’s 7903 also includes a blouse with optional trompe-l’oeil collar and cuffs (available in the shop):

1960s jumper, skirt, and blouse pattern after Courrèges - McCall's 7903

McCall’s 7903 after Courrèges (1965) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

McCall’s 7914 is a pattern for a dress or jumper, blouse, and skirt. The jumper’s welt seams could be topstitched in contrasting thread to match the blouse::

1960s dress/jumper, blouse and skirt pattern after Courrèges - McCall's 7914

McCall’s 7914 after Courrèges (1965) Image via the Vintage Pattern Wiki.

McCall’s 7918 is a dress with optional collar and sleeves cut in one with the yoke. Skinny belt included in the pattern:

1960s dress pattern after Courrèges - McCall's 7918

McCall’s 7918 after Courrèges (1965) Image via Etsy.

McCall’s 7923, the dress from the Seventeen cover and the Crompton Corduroy ad, could be made sleeveless, as a jumper, and came with a blouse with zippers at the sleeves and back. The pattern also included the low-slung skinny belt and carriers (available in the shop):

1960s dress or jumper and blouse pattern after Courrèges - McCall's 7923

McCall’s 7923 after Courrèges (1965) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Perhaps the rarest of these patterns, McCall’s 7932 is a short-sleeved top and skirt ensemble:

1960s top and skirt pattern after Courèges - McCall's 7932

McCall’s 7932 after Courrèges (1965) Image via Etsy.

McCall’s 7936 is a short-sleeved blouse and skirt suit with Courrèges’ characteristic, stand-away collar (available in 2 sizes in the shop):

1960s skirt suit and blouse pattern after Courrèges - McCall's 7936

McCall’s 7936 after Courrèges (1965) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

McCall’s Courrèges-look double-breasted coat, McCall’s 7938, has welt pocket flaps and a martingale and loose panel in back, with all edges accented by contrast binding. The pattern also includes a skirt suit and blouse (available in 2 sizes in the shop):

1960s coat, suit, and blouse pattern after Courrèges - McCall's 7938

McCall’s 7938 after Courrèges (1965) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Finally, McCall’s 7940 is a pattern for a high-waisted dress or jumper, short-sleeved blouse, and double-breasted jacket with standing collar (available in the shop):

1960s dress or jumper, blouse and jacket pattern after Courrèges - McCall's 7940

McCall’s 7940 after Courrèges (1965) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

André Courrèges’ futuristic style, high hemlines, and fresh trouser looks had made him a hit with the youthquake set. In a nod to this market, the illustrations show kitten heels and go-go boots, and the three patterns shown in Seventeen magazine have the text, “SEVENTEEN says: ‘It’s Young Fashion!'” Most of the Courrèges-look patterns were available in teen and junior sizes; one (M7923) was not available in misses’ sizes at all. (Of the two patterns in misses’ sizes only, M7938 and M7940, the former was featured in McCall’s magazine, though I’m not sure which issue.) It’s surprising that the patterns include no pantsuits: Courrèges was a great proponent of pants for the woman of the future.

I’ll close with some William Klein photos of Courrèges for Vogue magazine (visit Youthquakers for the full editorial):

Vogue1Mar1965_C1

Courrèges in Vogue, March 1, 1965. Photos: William Klein. Image via Youthquakers.

Vogue1Mar1965_C2

Courrèges in Vogue, March 1, 1965. Photos: William Klein. Image via Youthquakers.

* Dacron was known by the name Terylene in the U.K.

Patterns in Vogue: Pyjama Game

December 31, 2015 § 4 Comments

1960s Galitzine evening pyjama pattern - Vogue 1220

Detail, Vogue, November 1, 1963. Photo: Gene Laurents.

Whether you’re going out or staying in, palazzo pyjamas are perfect for New Year’s Eve. “Pyjama Game—the palazzo persuasion,” a 1963 Vogue editorial photographed by Gene Laurents, features two Vogue Couturier patterns for evening pyjama ensembles.

Both patterns are by designers based in Rome: Federico Forquet and Irene Galitzine. Vogue 1260 by Forquet is a sleeveless, draped evening dress that’s slit to reveal slim, matching pants. The original was apricot silk crêpe (click to enlarge):

1960s Forquet palazzo pyjama pattern Vogue 1260 in Vogue magazine

Vogue 1260 by Federico Forquet, Vogue, November 1, 1963. Model: Marola Witt. Photo: Gene Laurents.

From Galitzine, Vogue 1220 is a three-piece pyjama ensemble consisting of a top and skirt in black cut velvet shot with Lurex paired with trousers in white crêpe. The bold, rope necklace is by Brania:

1960s Galitzine palazzo pyjama pattern Vogue 1220 in Vogue magazine

Vogue 1220 by Galitzine, Vogue, November 1, 1963. Photo: Gene Laurents.

As always, details could be found in the back of the magazine:

"Vogue Patterns are available at important shops in every city..." back views in Vogue, Nov. 1963

Back views of Vogue 1260 and 1220 in Vogue, November 1, 1963.

All the best for 2016!

Pyjama game: Vogue 1260.

Detail, Vogue, November 1, 1963. Photo: Gene Laurents.

Evelyn Tripp

December 23, 2015 § 3 Comments

1950s British Vogue cover featuring Evelyn Tripp in red coat and hat

British Vogue, January 1955. Photo: Erwin Blumenfeld. Image via Vogue UK.

Evelyn Tripp (1927-1995) was one of the most prolific models of the 1950s. Born on a farm in Missouri, she was discovered at 20 while shopping on Fifth Avenue. You may recognize her from William Klein’s photograph, Smoke + Veil. She retired in 1968. (Read her New York Times obituary here.)

Evelyn Tripp William Klein Smoke + Veil 1958

Smoke + Veil, 1958. Photo: William Klein. Image via WWD.

Evelyn Tripp did modelling work for Simplicity, Woman’s Day, Butterick, and Vogue Patterns in the 1950s and early 1960s.

The Fall-Winter 1950 Simplicity catalogue includes a few photographs of the young Tripp. Here she wears tent coat Simplicity 8217:

Evelyn Tripp in 1950s tent coat pattern Simplicity 8217

Simplicity 8217 in Simplicity Pattern Book, Fall-Winter 1950.

Tripp also modelled an early Pauline Trigère design for Woman’s Day magazine. The portfolio was photographed by Leombruno-Bodi (full size here):

1950s Pauline Trigère dress pattern - Woman's Day 3267

Woman’s Day 3267 by Pauline Trigère in Woman’s Day, September 1950. Photos: Leombruno-Bodi. Image via Etsy.

1950s Pauline Trigère dress pattern - Woman's Day 3267

Woman’s Day 3267 by Pauline Trigère in Woman’s Day, September 1950. Photos: Leombruno-Bodi. Image via Etsy.

Among Tripp’s many covers are several for Vogue Pattern Book. Here she wears suit pattern Vogue S-4625:

1950s Vogue Pattern Book

Vogue Pattern Book, August-September 1955. Image via eBay.

On this spring cover she poses in dress-and-coat ensemble Vogue S-4659 (with matching hat):

1950s Vogue Pattern Book

Vogue Pattern Book, February-March 1956. Image via eBay.

Roger Prigent shot this cover featuring Tripp in Vogue 8829 made in Moygashel linen (also in Vogue):

1950s Vogue Pattern Book

Vogue Pattern Book, April-May 1956. Photo: Roger Prigent. Image via tumblr.

She appears on this summery Simplicity Pattern Book cover in Simplicity 1625 and Simplicity 1550, a top and skirt made in a matching print:

Evelyn Tripp on the cover of Simplicity's 1956 Summer Simplicity Pattern Book

Simplicity Pattern Book, Summer 1956. Image via eBay.

Inside, she poses in two-piece playsuit Simplicity 1608:

Evelyn Tripp on the beach in playsuit pattern Simplicity 1608

Simplicity 1608 in Simplicity Pattern Book, Summer 1956. Photo: Monroe. Image via eBay.

Tripp also appeared in a 1956 Vogue Patterns advertisement promoting the new printed and perforated patterns. The evening dress pattern is Vogue S-4735:

1950s Vogue Patterns ad featuring Evelyn Tripp in Vogue

“New Vogue Patterns are printed and perforated.” Vogue S-4735 in Vogue, 1956.

Here she wears Vogue 9607, made up in red, on the cover of the holiday 1958 issue of Vogue Pattern Book:

VPBUK DecJan1958-59

Vogue Pattern Book, December-January 1958-59. Image via eBay.

On this spring Butterick Pattern Book cover, she poses in a suit and flower hat, Butterick 8912 and Butterick 8880:

"A New Rise of Femininity" - Evelyn Tripp wears a flower hat on the cover of a late 1950s Butterick Pattern Book

Butterick Pattern Book, Spring 1959. Image via Vintage Chic.

Tripp may also be seen in early 1960s Vogue Pattern Book editorials. Here she wears Vogue 4267, a one-shouldered dress in wool jersey:

1960s Leombruno-Bodi photo of Evelyn Tripp in Vogue 4267

Vogue 4267 in Vogue Pattern Book, October/November 1961. Photo: Leombruno-Bodi.

For more of Evelyn Tripp’s work, see MyVintageVogue or Kristine/dovima_is_devine’s set on flickr.

We Can Be Heroes

October 30, 2015 § 8 Comments

Lynda Carter in the Wonder Woman tv show, 1975

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, 1975. Image: Warner Bros./Getty Images via IMDb.

Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman isn’t set to open until 2017, but audiences will get a glimpse of Gal Gadot as the Amazon princess in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). Marvel’s feminist superhero, Captain Marvel (originally Ms. Marvel) will also get her own movie in 2018. (Guardian story here.)

Panel from Ms. Marvel #1 (1977): Onlookers:

Panel from Ms. Marvel #1 (1977). Image via Talking Comics.

Since the 1930s and ’40s, when Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman made their first comic strip appearances, superheroes have occupied a special place in popular culture. The 2008 Costume Institute exhibit, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy, explored the influence of superhero costumes on fashion. (Click for a look inside the book.)

Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy exhibition catalogue by Andrew Bolton (with Michael Chabon)

Andrew Bolton with Michael Chabon, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008) Book design: Abbott Miller, John Kudos at Pentagram. Image via John Kudos.

With Halloween around the corner, here’s a look at licensed superhero costume patterns from the 1960s to today, with a focus on the place of gender in children’s costuming.

1960s

In 1966, the Batman television show premiered on ABC; just the year before, the 1950s television series Adventures of Superman, starring George Reeves as the Man of Steel, had returned to the airwaves in syndication.

Robin (Burt Ward) and Batman (Adam West) in Batman (1966) Image via Wikipedia.

From 1966, McCall’s 8398 is a pattern for “Girls’ or Boy’s Batman, Robin and Superman Official Costumes.” The pattern is copyright National Periodical Publications, Inc., an early version of DC Comics:

McCall’s 8398 (1966) Image via Betsy Vintage.

The Fall 1966 McCall’s Home Catalog promoted McCall’s 8398 with McCall’s 8562 as “Magical Costumes for the Wonderful World of Make-Believe.” The text reinforces the idea that these superhero costumes were intended for imaginative, active children, regardless of gender: “Now that active young lad or lass with the vivid imagination can be Batman, Robin or Superman at the switch of a colorful costume. Only McCall’s has official patterns for the costumes of these swashbuckling heroes of comic books and TV…” (click to enlarge):

McCalls Home catalogue, Fall/Winter 1966-67

McCall’s 8398 in McCall’s Home Catalog, Fall-Winter 1966-67.

1970s

In 1978, the Wonder Woman TV series was still running, and December saw the release of the first Superman movie starring Christopher Reeve.

Christopher Reeve as Superman, 1978

Christopher Reeve as Superman, 1978. Image: Keystone/Getty Images via IMDb.

That year, Simplicity released two patterns for children’s superhero costumes: Simplicity 8714, Batman, Robin, and Superman costumes for children and boys, and Simplicity 8720, Catwoman, Batgirl, and Wonder Woman costumes for girls. (‘Child’ often refers to unisex pattern sizing for younger children.) The introduction of female superhero costumes seems to have prompted a sex-division on the pattern envelopes—although the categories could always be subverted by individual children and their parents:

1970s children's Batman, Robin, and Superman costume pattern - Simplicity 8714

Simplicity 8714 (1978)

1970s Catwoman, Wonder Woman, and Batgirl costume pattern - Simplicity 8720

Simplicity 8720 (1978)

1980s

Later official superhero patterns tend to be movie or TV tie-ins. As in contemporary popular culture, the balance shifts toward male superheroes, but there’s also an oscillation between strict gender categories and more inclusive costuming. The 1980s were the decade of Superman and Supergirl: Supergirl opened in 1984, and there were three more Superman movies ending with Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).

Helen Slater as Supergirl, 1984

Helen Slater as Supergirl, 1984. Image via Pinterest.

In 1987, Butterick released two superhero patterns, both with iron-on transfers: a Superman and Supergirl play suit for small children (sizes 2 to 6X), and a Superman costume for men and boys. I couldn’t find a corresponding women’s and girls’ Supergirl pattern. The small children’s is a pyjama or jogging suit-style top and pants for stretch knits, with separate cape and skirt; the men’s and boys’ is a spandex stirrup jumpsuit and briefs:

Butterick 5862 (1987) Image via Etsy.

1980s Superman costume pattern - Butterick 5874

Butterick 5874 (1987)

(With thanks to Jan Lamm.)

Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) launched a new superhero franchise. Late 1980s Batman pattern Butterick 4201/6313, for men and boys, appears to have been timed to the Tim Burton film, but reflects the now-retro Batman. Like the Butterick Superman, it’s also a stirrup jumpsuit and briefs for spandex blends:

1980s Batman costume pattern - Butterick 6313

Butterick 6313 (1989) Image via Etsy.

1990s

Butterick licensed costumes from Batman Returns (1992) and Batman Forever (1995): Batman, Catwoman, and the Penguin, and Batman, Robin, and the Riddler. The Batman costumes reflect the movies’ increasingly hypermasculine armour, while Catwoman’s sexy, home-sewn catsuit is the only design for women and girls.

Batman Returns Batman costume pattern - Butterick 6377

Butterick 6377 (1992) Image via Etsy.

Batman Forever Batman costume pattern - Butterick 4172

Butterick 4172 (1995) Image via Etsy.

Butterick 6378 official Batman Returns Catwoman costume (1992) Image via Etsy.

Maybe because the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aren’t human, this Ninja Turtles pattern is gender-inclusive, labelled as for both girls and boys. The design is called a playsuit, not a costume (click the image for envelope back, or see it made up on flickr):

Girls' and boys' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle playsuit pattern - Butterick 5143

Butterick 5143 (1990) Image via Etsy.

On the other hand, this Captain Planet pattern for children and boys includes a grotesque ‘muscle’ suit. The second character is called Verminous Skumm:

1990s Captain Planet and Verminous Skumm costume pattern - McCall's 5642

McCall’s 5642 (1991) Image via Etsy.

’90s costume patterns start to show the influence of Japanese television shows—Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Masked Rider, and Sailor Moon. This Sailor Moon costume pattern came in children’s and girls’ sizes:

McCalls 7859

McCall’s 7859/P310 (1995) Image via eBay.

Marvel doesn’t seem to have ventured into pattern licensing until the 1990s, when Simplicity’s children’s costume patterns were gender-inclusive. Simplicity 7543 is a child’s Spiderman costume with sleeve webs made from fishnet:

1990s children's Spiderman costume pattern - Simplicity 7543

Simplicity 7543 (1991) Image via eBay.

Before the X-Men and Spider-Man movie franchises of the 2000s, there were ’90s animated TV shows based on the comics: X-Men from 1992 and Spider-Man from 1994. In the mid-1990s, Simplicity released several more Marvel patterns, all labelled as unisex Child’s costumes: Spider-Man and Venom (Simplicity 7241), Wolverine and Storm (Simplicity 7246), and Cyclops and Magneto (Simplicity 7251). Wolverine and Storm is my favourite:

1990s X-Men costume pattern - Wolverine and Storm - Simplicity 7246

Simplicity 7246 (1996) Image via Pinterest.

Current patterns

This fall, Simplicity released five licensed costume patterns for Marvel and DC superheroes. The women’s DC costumes are featured on the cover of the Halloween catalogue: Wonder Woman (Simplicity 1024) with Batgirl and Supergirl (Simplicity 1036):

Saturday Spooktacular! Simplicity costumes for Halloween 2015

Simplicity Costumes 2015. Image via Simplicity.

Women's Wonder Woman costume pattern - Simplicity 1024

Simplicity 1024 (2015)

The women’s costumes match those of the comic-book characters, but for the corresponding children’s pattern (Simplicity 1035), all three costumes have been altered to become knee-length, long-sleeved dresses. Batgirl loses her catsuit and Wonder Woman is virtually unrecognizable. What message does this send to children comparing the comic-book illustrations on the envelopes?

Simplicity 1035 (2015) Image via Etsy.

The two Marvel patterns, Captain America (Simplicity 1030) and Thor (Simplicity 1038), have a different format. Both from Marvel’s Avengers, the adults’ and children’s sizes share the same envelope, which includes an illustration of the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America down the left-hand side and a superimposed image of the pattern pieces with the text Sew It Yourself. Both are labelled as boys’ and men’s. The Thor should really be unisex if he’s now a woman:

Marvel Avengers Captain America costume pattern - Simplicity 1030/0225

Simplicity 1030/0225 (2015) Image via eBay.

(S0225 is the advance version; the S1030 envelope seems to have some strange retouching of the man’s crotch.)

Marvel Avengers Thor costume pattern - Simplicity 1038

Simplicity 1038 (2015) Image via Etsy.

It’s great to see Wonder Woman making a comeback, and the increasing popularity of costuming means we’re likely to see more licensed superhero patterns in the near future. Here’s hoping there will be a Black Widow or Mystique—and it’s not a dress.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Simplicity 8720 detail

(For more see Dorian Lynskey, Kapow! Attack of the feminist superheroes, and Jill Lepore, The Last Amazon.)

* As I wrote this post, spellcheck failed to recognize the names of female superheroes. Please fix this, WordPress!

Early Sixties Chinoiserie

September 7, 2015 § 3 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!

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.

Mad Men Era Roundup

May 20, 2015 § 1 Comment

Peggy Olson arrives at the McCann offices in "Lost Horizon" (Mad Men season 7 episode 12)

Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) in “Lost Horizon” (Man Men, Season 7). Image via GQ.

Did you watch the Mad Men finale Sunday night? If you aren’t ready to say goodbye, a New York exhibition, Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men, brings together sets, props, costumes, and other production materials from the show (at the Museum of the Moving Image to June 14, 2015).

Soon after launching this blog in 2011, I began a series on Mad Men-era designer patterns. Like the TV series, it shows the changes that were taking place in fashion in the 1960s. Here’s the full roundup:

  1. The Old Guard I – Jacques Heim, Madame Grès, Jo Mattli, and Jean Dessès
  2. The Old Guard II – Jacques Griffe, Pauline Trigère, Pierre Balmain, and Pierre Cardin
  3. London’s Old Guard – Ronald Paterson, John Cavanagh, Michael Donéllan, and Edward Molyneux
  4. Old House, New Designer – Lanvin, Patou, Nina Ricci, and Dior
  5. The Europeans – Rodríguez, Simonetta, Fabiani, and Pucci
  6. New Talent – Guy Laroche, Irene Galitzine, and Federico Forquet
  7. Millinery – Sally Victor, John Frederics, Guy Laroche, and Halston
  8. McCall’s New York Designers – Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, and Anne Klein
  9. Butterick’s Young Designers – Mary Quant, Jean Muir, and Emmanuelle Khanh

I also have two posts on Yves Saint Laurent’s 1965 Mondrian collection, Mondrian! and my version of Vogue 1556, and for the later 1960s, a designers post on Rudi Gernreich.

MadMen1

MadMen2

MadMen3

Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint LaurentVogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent, Knoll Toronto

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