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.


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.


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)


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.


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!

More Bob Mackie Patterns

October 18, 2015 § 4 Comments

Cher in Bob Mackie on the cover of TIME magazine, 1975

Cher in Bob Mackie, TIME magazine, March 17, 1975. Photo: Richard Avedon. Image via TIME.

Speaking of Bob Mackie, I found some more Bob Mackie patterns from McCall’s.

Unhelpfully for collectors, vintage designer patterns were sometimes printed without the name on the envelope. This is the case with three Bob Mackie patterns, which were released earlier than those in my first Bob Mackie post. Like the other Mackie patterns, these three are also for stretch knits.

McCall’s 6575 and 6576 are slinky, disco halter dresses:

1970s Bob Mackie dress pattern - McCall's 6575

McCall’s 6575 by Bob Mackie (1979) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

1970s Bob Mackie dress pattern - McCall's 6576

McCall’s 6576 by Bob Mackie (1979) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

McCall’s 6577 is a pattern for a disco coverup, bodysuit, skinny pants, and handkerchief skirt. The contrast sash is also included:

McCall’s 6577 by Bob Mackie (1979) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Contemporary buyers would have ordered these designs from a catalogue complete with photos and the Bob Mackie logo, like this counter catalogue from September 1979 (click to enlarge):

McCall's 6600 by DD Dominick and McCall's 6575 by Bob Mackie in McCall's catalogue, September 1979

Designs by DD Dominick and Bob Mackie in McCall’s catalogue, September 1979. Image via eBay.

Bob Mackie patterns McCall's 6577 and 6576 in McCall's catalogue for September 1979

Bob Mackie designs in McCall’s catalogue, September 1979. Image via eBay.

Make with strategically placed sequins for the full Cher effect…

Star Wars Costume Patterns

October 9, 2015 § 7 Comments


Trisha Biggar, Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars (Abrams, 2005) Image via Abrams.

Anticipation is high for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which opens in December. For fans of costume design, it helps that Michael Kaplan, who began his career with Bob Mackie and Blade Runner (1982), is designing the costumes for the new film. (Read Vanity Fair’s post here.) Here’s a look at Star Wars costume patterns.

Star wars couture 3

“Star Wars Couture,” Vogue, April 1999. Model: Audrey Marnay. Photo: Irving Penn. Fashion editor: Phyllis Posnick. Image via the Fashion Spot.

Star Wars’ costumes must be among the most discussed in cinema. In 2005, LA’s Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) organized the exhibit Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars, accompanied by a book by Trisha Biggar, the costume designer for the prequel trilogy (Abrams, 2005; still in print). Last year saw the publication of Brandon Alinger’s Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy (Chronicle Books, 2014). And a new travelling exhibit, Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars and the Power of Costume, will open in New York next month.


John Mollo’s final sketch for the costume of Obi-Wan Kenobi, 1976. Image: Alinger/Chronicle Books.


John Mollo’s design for the samurai warrior concept of Darth Vader, 1976. Image: Alinger/Chronicle Books.

John Mollo’s costumes for Star Wars, which won an Academy Award in 1978, have immortalized a certain strand of ’70s style. Compare Princess Leia’s iconic hooded dress with a 1976 Dior evening gown available as a Vogue pattern; both were made in white silk crepe de chine:

Left: Karen Bjornson in Vogue 1553 by Dior, Vogue Patterns, November/December 1976. Photo: Chris von Wangenheim. Right: Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. Image via PatternVault on Twitter.

(I’ve made the Dior in red; photos coming soon.)

The year after The Empire Strikes Back (1980), McCall’s began releasing children’s costume patterns licensed with Lucasfilm.

McCall’s 7772 includes costumes for five characters from the first two films: Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Yoda, Jawa, and Lord Darth Vader. The Vader view calls for one single serving cereal box. I have several sizes available in the shop:

Vintage 1980s licensed Star Wars pattern - McCall's 7772

McCall’s 7772 (1981) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

After Return of the Jedi (1983), McCall’s released a children’s pattern for Ewok costumes. And not just any Ewok: the envelope back names “Wicket the Ewok”:

1980s children's Ewok costume pattern - McCalls 8731

McCall’s 8731 (1983) Image via Etsy.

In the 1990s, Butterick took over the Lucasfilm licensing. Butterick 5174 and 5175, official Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker costumes for adults and children, included an order form for the wig and light sabre:

1990s Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker pattern - Butterick 5174

Butterick 5174 (1997) Image via Etsy.

1990s children's Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia pattern - Butterick 5175

Butterick 5175 (1997) Image via Etsy.

Butterick also released two official Darth Vader costume patterns for children and adults. Butterick 5176 and 5186 included instructions for breastplate appliqués made from coloured, foam sheet remnants, and an order form for the helmet and light sabre:

1990s boy's Darth Vader costume pattern - Butterick 5176

Butterick 5176 (1997) Image via Etsy.

1990s men's Darth Vader costume pattern - Butterick 5186

Butterick 5186 (1997) Image via Etsy.

There were only unofficial costume patterns based on the prequel trilogy. The year of Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), McCall’s released McCall’s 2433, a “Space Nomads” pattern for adults and children with a version of Sith warrior Darth Maul:

McCalls 2433

McCall’s 2433 (1999) Image via Etsy.

Based on costumes from Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), Simplicity 4433 includes Padmé Amidala’s combat suit, which doubles as an Aayla Secura costume (but two-sleeved and without the headpiece):

Andrea Schewe women's Star Wars combat pattern - Simplicity 4433

Simplicity 4433 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Image via Etsy.

Although Padmé’s Peacock dress was cut from Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), it was widely seen in promotional materials for the film:

Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) in the Peacock dress

Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) in the Peacock dress. Image via Pinterest.

Andrea Schewe produced two versions of the Peacock dress and headddress for children and adults, Simplicity 4426 and Simplicity 4443. The adults’ pattern includes both Padmé and Princess Leia, while the children’s has Leia, Padmé, and young Anakin and Obi-Wan:

Padmé, Leia, Anakin, and Jedi costume pattern - Simplicity 4426

Simplicity 4426 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Image via Etsy.

Women's Padmé and Leia costume pattern - Simplicity 4443

Simplicity 4443 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Image via Etsy.

Men’s costume pattern Simplicity 4450/059 includes Anakin and Obi-Wan Jedi costumes, together with an unidentifiable warlock:

Anakin Skywalker, Jedi tunic and cloak pattern - Simplicity 4450/0579

Simplicity 4450/0579 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Image via Etsy.

Based on Padmé Amidala’s nightgown in Revenge of the Sith, McCall’s 4995 is a dress with boned bodice, separate drape, chain or bead trim, and tassels made with three sizes of beads:

McCalls 4995 (2005)

McCall’s 4995 (2005) Image via eBay.

Now that Disney owns Lucasfilm, perhaps there will be more licensed Star Wars patterns…

Update: Irving Penn’s 1999 editorial was not the first Star Wars-themed shoot in Vogue magazine: see Ishimuro’s “The ‘Force’ of Fur” in Vogue, November 1977. (Thanks to Devorah Macdonald for the reference.)

Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma in Vanity Fair, June 2015. Photo: Annie Leibovitz. Image via Vanity Fair.


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 vogue.it.

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

July 20, 2015 § 6 Comments

This week the Pan Am Games continue in Toronto. In honour of the Games, here’s a look at vintage patterns and illustrations showing women’s sports.

First up: Pan Am sports that have already concluded for 2015.

Archery. From a 1933 issue of McCall’s magazine, this archery scene was illustrated by Jean des Vignes:

Jean des Vignes archery illustration in a 1930s McCall's magazine

“Taking Aim,” McCall’s magazine, March 1933. Illustration: Jean des Vignes.

Golf. Ben-Hur Baz (later known for his pin-ups) illustrated this golf scene for McCall’s magazine, circa 1930:

Ben Hur Baz ladies' golf illustration in McCall's magazine, spring 1930

McCall 6078 and 6074 in McCall’s magazine, April 1930. Illustration: Ben Hur Baz.

Donna Karan designed these mid-1970s golf separates, hat included, when she was at Anne Klein. You can buy it for your own golfing needs from the PatternVault shop.

1970s Donna Karan for Anne Klein for Penfold golf pattern - Vogue 1415

Vogue 1415 by Donna Karan for Anne Klein x Penfold (ca. 1976) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Roller skating. Simplicity 3890, a World War 2-era skating pattern, includes this roller skating illustration:

1940s roller skating pattern - Simplicity 3890

Simplicity 3890 (ca. 1941) Image via Etsy.

Sailing. This 1930s sailor dress has a contrast collar and big buttons at the side-front closure:

1930s sailor dress pattern - New York 217

New York 217 (ca. 1930s)

Swimming. This chic, cuffed swimsuit (previously featured in my Heat Wave! beachwear post) dates to the late 1940s:

1940s bathing suit pattern - Vogue 6709

Vogue 6709 (1949) Image via Oodles and oodles.

The swimsuit was photographed by Richard Rutledge for Vogue Pattern Book:

1940s Richard Rutledge photograph - Vogue pattern no. 6709

Vogue 6709 in Vogue Pattern Book, April/May 1949. Photo: Richard Rutledge.

Tennis. The cover of the McCall Quarterly for Spring 1932 has this tennis-themed illustration featuring two dresses by Bruyère:


Bruyère patterns McCall 6804 and 6819 on the cover of McCall Quarterly, Spring 1932. Illustration: Blanche Rothschild.

(For more tennis patterns see my Tennis, Anyone? post.)

Stay tuned for more vintage sports wear… I’ll be looking at a different Pan Am sport and related vintage pattern every day this week.

Yves Saint Laurent 1971: la collection du scandale

June 11, 2015 § 3 Comments

Yves Saint Laurent 1971: la collection du scandale. Exposition du 19 mars au 19 juillet 2015 - Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent 1971: la collection du scandale. Model: Willy Van Rooy. Photo: Hans Feurer.

Yves Saint Laurent’s Spring 1971 haute couture collection, Libération, is currently the focus of a major Paris exhibition. Curated by Olivier Saillard of the Palais Galliera, Yves Saint Laurent 1971: la collection du scandale may be seen at the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent through July 19th, 2015. A catalogue (in French only) is available from Flammarion.

Inspired by the women of occupied Paris, Saint Laurent’s “Forties” collection interpreted vintage styles for the younger generation—subversive historicism with an edge of camp. The wartime silhouettes of thirty years previous dominated for day, with evening gowns featuring prints based on ancient Greek erotic art. (See Suzy Menkes for Vogue and Joelle Diderich for WWD.) Like the designer’s Beat collection for Dior, it brought youthful street style to couture, prompting a similar backlash but ultimately succeeding in terms of broader influence.

Yves Saint Laurent Spring 1971 haute couture (Libération) in L'Officiel 1000 modèles' YSL special issue

Yves Saint Laurent Spring 1971 haute couture (Libération), L’Officiel 1000 modèles hors série, 2002. Image via jalougallery.com.

L’Officiel was one of the only magazines to put the collection on the cover; British Vogue and Harpers & Queen opted for related Rive Gauche looks instead:

Yves Saint Laurent couture ensemble on the cover of L'Officiel, March 1971

Yves Saint Laurent couture ensemble, L’Officiel, March 1971. Photo: Roland Bianchini. Image via jalougallery.com.

Florence Lafuma photographed by Barry Lategan for the cover of British Vogue, March 1, 1971

Poppy accessories from Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, British Vogue, March 1971. Model: Florence Lafuma. Photo: Barry Lategan. Image via Vogue UK.

Viviane Fauny photographed by Helmut Newton in YSL Rive Gauche for the cover of Harpers & Queen, April 1971

“Lips” print dress from Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Harpers & Queen, early April 1971. Model: Viviane Fauny. Photo: Helmut Newton. Image via Pinterest.

Vogue Patterns licensed two patterns from the Spring 1971 couture. Vogue 2571 is a puff-sleeved dress trimmed down the front with tiny buttons. Frank Horvat photographed the navy original for the August/September issue of Vogue Pattern Book. The editorial text reads, “From Yves Saint Laurent, a slither of crepe. Note the new high puffed sleeves tight round the wrists, with just enough flare and tiny ball buttons”:

1970s Yves Saint Laurent dress pattern - Vogue 2571

Vogue 2571 by Yves Saint Laurent (1971) Image courtesy of Paco Peralta.

V2571 schematic

Technical drawing for Vogue 2571

Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Dress. Semi-fitted, slightly flared dress, mid-knee length, has jewel neckline, front button and loop closing, front gathered into forward shoulder seam and topstitch trim. Full length leg-o-mutton sleeves with pleated cap have zipper closing. Purchased scarf. Semi-fitted sleeveless slip has back zipper closing.

The exhibition catalogue includes this photo of the dress in the original collection presentation:

Runway photo of the Vogue 2571 dress in the collection du scandale exhibition catalogue

A model shows the navy dress from Yves Saint Laurent’s Spring 1971 Libération collection. Image courtesy of Paco Peralta.

Vogue 2598 is a pattern for pleated skirt, cuffed trousers, and double-breasted jacket with optional ribbon trim (see Paco’s post here):

1970s Yves Saint Laurent three-piece suit pattern - Vogue 2598

Vogue 2598 by Yves Saint Laurent (1971) Image courtesy of Paco Peralta.

V2598 schematic

Technical drawing for Vogue 2598

The envelope description reads: Misses’ Three-Piece Suit. Fitted, double-breasted blazer jacket has notched collar, wide lapels, patch pockets, extended padded shoulders, full length sleeves with buttoned vents and turn back cuffs. Topstitch or ribbon trim. Gored, pleated skirt, two inches below knee, has waistband and topstitch trim. Straight-legged pants with cuffs are darted into waistband.

Here is a ribbon-trimmed pantsuit version of Vogue 2598 in the original presentation. The pattern could be adapted to make the sleeveless variation:

Runway photo of an Yves Saint Laurent pantsuit - Spring 1971 haute couture

A model shows a pantsuit from Yves Saint Laurent’s Spring 1971 Libération collection. Image: Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent.

These editorial photos from L’Officiel’s spring couture preview show three variations on the Vogue 2598 double-breasted suit look: a long, houndstooth coat; a jacket worn with a short, wool jersey jumpsuit; and a pinstriped pantsuit topped with a fur stole:

Yves Saint Laurent Spring 1971 couture photographed by Jean Louis Guégan for L'Officiel

Yves Saint Laurent Spring 1971 couture in L’Officiel 582 (1971). Photo: Jean Louis Guégan. Image via jalougallery.com.

Jane Birkin was photographed in the long-sleeved, ribbon-trimmed jacket (can anyone identify the photographer?) and Bianca Jagger wore a white, single-breasted jacket from this collection to her wedding:

Jane Birkin in Yves Saint Laurent Spring 1971 couture

Jane Birkin in Yves Saint Laurent. Image via tumblr.

Mick Jagger with Bianca Jagger in Yves Saint Laurent couture, May 1971

Mick Jagger with Bianca Jagger in Yves Saint Laurent, May 1971. Image via Gaia Fishler.

Just for fun, I’ll close with some editorial images featuring spring 1971 Yves Saint Laurent:

Helmut Newton's photos of Yves Saint Laurent couture for Vogue Paris, March 1971

Yves Saint Laurent couture in Vogue Paris, March 1971. Photos: Helmut Newton. Models: Viviane Fauny, Margrit Ramme. Image via Youthquakers.

Bob Richardson's photos of Anjelica Huston in Yves Saint Laurent couture for Vogue Italia, June 1971

Anjelica Huston in Yves Saint Laurent couture, Vogue Italia, June 1971. Photo: Bob Richardson. Image via Vogue.it.

Gian Paolo Barbieri's photo of Ingmari Lamy in Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, 1971

Ingmari Lamy in Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche (?), 1971. Photo: Gian Paolo Barbieri. From Soie pirate (Scheidegger & Spiess, 2010) Image via little augury.

With thanks to Paco Peralta.

Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s

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.

Patricia Mears and Emma McClendon, Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s. Image via 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):

1970s Yves Saint Laurent pantsuit, blouse, and skirt pattern - Vogue 1143

Vogue 1143 by Yves Saint Laurent (1974) Image via Etsy.

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:

1970s Halston dress pattern, view A for synthetic suede - McCall's 4391

McCall’s 4391 by Halston (1975) Model: Karen Bjornson.


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):

1970s Yves Saint Laurent Ballets Russes pattern - Vogue 1558

Vogue 1558 by Yves Saint Laurent (1976) Model: Karen Bjornson. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

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:

1970s Halston caftan, top, and pants pattern - McCalls 3590

McCall’s 3590 by Halston (1973)


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:

1970s Yves Saint Laurent dress and coat or jacket pattern - Vogue 2930

Vogue 2930 by Yves Saint Laurent (1973) Image via eBay.

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:

1970s Halston cocktail or evening dress pattern - McCall's 4046

McCall’s 4046 by Halston (1974)

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.

Designs by Halston and Yves Saint Laurent on the cover of W magazine, September 3-10, 1976. Image via WWD.

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