June 13, 2014 § 7 Comments
When I first started collecting sewing patterns, Naomi was baffled. She couldn’t understand my interest when the styling on modern pattern envelopes was bland or worse. This new, occasional series looks at designer patterns that fail to convey the strengths of the original—not as an end in itself, but in the hope of provoking reflection and discussion of the frequent disparity between designer fashion and the licensed versions offered to home sewers.
(You can see an earlier discussion in the comments on my Alber Elbaz post.)
Launching the series is Vogue 2893, a top and skirt pattern by Donna Karan from 2006. The off-the-shoulder, back-laced ensemble is drawn from Karan’s Spring/Summer 2005 collection, and was the centrepiece of the Peter Lindbergh advertising campaign starring Erin Wasson.
The look was even chosen to open the Spring 2005 runway presentation. The second photo shows the top’s contrast mesh inserts, elasticized shoulders, and decorative zigzag stitching detail:
Now consider the pattern envelope:
The envelope replaces the original’s bared shoulders, open back, and slight flare at the hips with a much higher décolletage and tightly laced back. The result is a more covered-up, middle-of-the-road, body-con look that lacks the original’s confidence and wit.
What do you think? Did Vogue Patterns assume the original styling wouldn’t appeal to their customers?
January 9, 2014 § 2 Comments
5. Anna Sui, Spring/Summer 1999 collection
Sui’s Spring 1999 collection was inspired by American sportswear designer Claire McCardell. Nylon dresses invoked McCardell’s functionalism, while denim pieces developed the Americana theme. Further New World references ranged from Mexican clothing, Día de los Muertos handicrafts, and Haitian voodoo, to glam rock and Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah (1949). (Browse the full collection at firstVIEW.)
Vogue 2305 is a pattern for two dresses with gathering details. View A is sleeveless, with a raised, drawstring waist and scarf collar; view B has a mock-wrap bodice, off-the-shoulder puffed sleeves, and a midriff cutout above the flared skirt:
Kirsten Owen and Giselle Bündchen modelled the dresses on the runway:
6. Anna Sui, Spring/Summer 2001 collection
One of the main inspirations for the Spring 2001 collection was the Mudd Club, a locus for New York’s cultural underground in the late 1970s and early 1980s. An Edo Bertoglio polaroid of Mudd Club co-founder Anya Phillips in her blue, lace-up dress was a reference for some of the pieces. (As well as being an independent fashion designer, Phillips was art director at Fiorucci; see Tim Blanks, “Mudd Quake.”) As Andrew Bolton notes, even the collection’s less overtly ’80s designs reflected Sui’s “Mudd Club thrift-shop punk aesthetic.” (See the full collection at style.com.)
Vogue 2551 is a pattern for two LBDs for stretch knits. The one-shouldered view A is cut on the bias, with the right skirt front extending into a twisted hip drape; view B has pleats at the right shoulder and a left side slit:
Here are the two dresses on the runway. The one-shouldered jersey dress was modelled by Hannelore Knuts:
These two Edo Bertoglio portraits from the Mudd Club era show Anya Phillips, in her blue dress, and Anna Sui (photos via New York Magazine; the Sui portrait was first published in Vogue Italia):
(More Mudd Club-era photos may be found in Maripolarama [powerHouse Books, 2005], which contains a recollection by Anna Sui.)
7. Anna Sui, Fall/Winter 2001 collection
Sui’s inspiration for her Fall 2001 collection was another legendary New York venue: the Factory, Andy Warhol’s studio. In reference to Warhol’s Factory parties and ideas about celebrity, the runway presentation incorporated a screening of a black-and-white, short film, commissioned from Zoe Cassavetes, of Sui’s famous friends attending a cocktail party. Other ’60s inspirations included “Baby” Jane Holzer’s eclectic wardrobe, the work of Rudi Gernreich, and William Klein’s film Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1966). (Full collection at style.com.)
Vogue 2640 is a pattern for a jacket and dress with contrast binding, plus a matching scarf:
Vogue 2640’s striped jacket and dress ensemble was the spring collection’s opening look:
The collection’s stripes are a reference to a particularly Op-art scene in Klein’s Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?:
8. Anna Sui, Fall/Winter 2003 collection
The concept of art deco skiwear inspired the Fall 2003 collection, which Sui designed during another cold winter (2002-3) when urban skiwear was dominating New York street fashion. In the colours, motifs, and especially the geometric patterns of art deco, as well as the distinctive, tubular 1920s silhouette, the collection chanelled the flapper’s modernity, but with a dose of fun fur. (Full collection on style.com.)
Vogue 7950 or 639 is a pattern for five different faux fur pieces: a jacket, vest, hat, mittens, and legwarmers. The jacket is cropped, with elbow-length sleeves, while the vest has an exposed zipper. The hat has a contrast scarf that could be made to match the mittens’ contrast palms and cuffs, and the legwarmers have elasticized leg bands:
Here are some detail shots of the hat and legwarmers on the runway:
L’Officiel’s collection image shows the ’20s ski theme, complete with Anna Sui-branded snowboard (click to enlarge):
Anna Sui’s work wears its postmodernity lightly. The designer’s myriad references, fantastical narratives, and hybrid concepts mean her collections keep evolving while staying true to a bohemian, thrift-store aesthetic. I’m already planning to make several of these (one of the hazards of research). Which are your favourites?
December 25, 2013 § Leave a comment
SHOWstudio’s latest Design Download is a free pattern for a top and balloon skirt by J.W.Anderson. Anderson, who is creative director at Loewe as well as for his own label, was just named the BFA’s New Establishment Designer for 2013. (For more on Anderson see Susannah Frankel’s recent profile for W magazine, “The New Guard: J.W. Anderson.”)
As with last year’s Design Download, there’s an interactive component and also a contest. Those making up the ensemble are invited to submit photos for inclusion in a gallery on the SHOWstudio website, and J.W.Anderson and Nick Knight will choose one version to star in a special fashion film.
The asymmetrical top and skirt are from the current, Fall/Winter 2013 collection, which drew acclaim for its sculptural, experimental pieces in subdued neutrals enlivened by the odd splash of colour and comic-book prints. (See Suzy Menkes, “Maximalist Versus Minimalist“; full collection on style.com.) Here is SHOWstudio’s slate leather version on the runway:
The ensemble was also shown in midnight blue and white:
The look also made the fall advertising campaign—twice:
The pattern download comes in a choice of A4 or A1 sheets with a test line for checking the scale.
Download the top and skirt pattern (9 pieces: 4 for top, 5 for skirt)
Size: UK size 6
Recommended fabrics: leather, thick duffle wool, and other fray-resistant fabrics
Tools and notions: 20cm (8″) invisible zipper, hook and eye, seam binding or bondaweb. A rotary cutter is recommended for cutting the unfinished edges.
The deadline for contest submissions is Friday, March 31st, 2014 at midnight GMT. (See the SHOWstudio site for submission details.) Or if you’d rather snag the original, the midnight blue version of the top is on sale at net-a-porter.
July 17, 2013 § 3 Comments
Now that summer is truly here, this instalment in my Free Designer Patterns series is devoted to a hot weather essential: a caftan, one that Matthew Williamson shared with the Guardian as part of the Observer’s 2009 Designer DIY series.
The caftan is from what was then the current season collection, the Spring/Summer 2009 ready-to-wear. Here is the caftan on the runway:
The spring collection played to Williamson’s strengths, with plenty of neon brights and flowing, bohemian prints. Here’s the collection image from L’Officiel 1000 modèles (click to enlarge):
Fabric requirements: About 2.5 metres (2.75 yards) of very lightweight fabric such as chiffon or printed georgette (width unspecified)
Caveats: Seam allowances must be added. The pattern has 5 pieces, but consists of 44 separate PDFs.
June 17, 2013 § 3 Comments
The hat pattern Stephen Jones recently shared with SHOWstudio was released in early 2012, on the last day of the Paris couture calendar. An exaggerated beret inspired by his lilac hatboxes, the original hat is lilac moiré with a sparkle-embellished, pink satin bow. Here’s a colour photo:
The design was drawn from Stephen Jones’ Fall/Winter 2011 collection, Topsy Turvy, which also included a stiletto take on Schiaparelli’s shoe hat. Here is a collection image from the milliner’s website:
Recommended fabrics: For hat: crisp fabrics with body and a slight stiffness such as faille, taffeta, gazar, or firm velvet. For lining: softer fabrics.
Notions: 0.4 m ( about 16″) of 5 cm (2″) satin ribbon; #5 (2.5cm) petersham ribbon; elastic (optional).
Trimming: 0.65 m (about 26″) of 5 cm (2″) ribbon; small sequins, sugar beads, and diamantés for bow embellishment.
May 9, 2013 § 3 Comments
This week’s second punk-inspired pattern puts the ‘couture’ in Chaos to Couture. (The first punk-inspired pattern was by Junya Watanabe—see my post here.) John Galliano’s ‘Pirate’ jacket is the most challenging of SHOWstudio’s Design Downloads, with 63 pattern pieces, all hand-labelled in French. But not to worry: 11 are guide pieces, and most of the French is translated.
Here are side and back views of the jacket:
The ‘Pirate’ jacket is from John Galliano’s Fall/Winter 2001 collection, entitled Techno Romance. Here it is on the runway:
The collection mixed glossy synthetics (techno) with delicate sheers and florals (romance): jaunty double-breasted jackets and long coats worn with sailor trousers, and long skirts and dresses, many with the same romantically skewed, off-the-shoulder, one-sleeved bodices as the SHOWstudio jacket. (See Suzy Menkes, “Techno Romance.”) In her short essay to accompany the Design Download, Jane Audas conjures an imaginary history for the SHOWstudio version of the jacket—a story of rebellion in which it was fashioned from the Union Jack, “the flag torn off a captured ship and hijacked as clothing, held together with sail rivets and ties.”
Here are the collection images from L’Officiel 1000 modèles (click to enlarge):
Fabrics requirements: approx. 3 yards of 60″ fabric and 3 yards of lining; interfacing.
Notions: grosgrain ribbon, D-rings, large metal stud, press studs, 2 buckles, eyelets, snaps, cord, elastic, 53 cm (21″) separating zipper.
May 7, 2013 § 1 Comment
To celebrate this week’s opening of PUNK: Chaos to Couture at the Costume Institute in New York, I’ll be posting about two free patterns for punk-inspired designs. (Kristen McMenamy called last night’s Met gala “a costume party for punk”; see style.com’s red carpet coverage here.) First up is an example of Junya Watanabe’s “heavy-duty couture”: the dress pattern he shared with SHOWstudio.
The Watanabe Design Download was part of SHOWstudio’s Dress Me Up, Dress Me Down project, which saw model Liberty Ross being dressed for a live photo shoot by an online audience. The project—whose name refers to the English title of Pedro Almodóvar’s Átame, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990)—was inspired by pornographic video chats and had the goal of “exploring the idea of control in fashion image-making.” As well as images and video, the project also had a discussion component, with interviews and short essays on fashion and pornography, including an Andrea Dworkin excerpt. In its appropriation of pornographic conventions, the SHOWstudio project can be linked to punk fashion and art like that of Throbbing Gristle’s Cosey Fanni Tutti (recently seen in Pop Life: Art in a Material World).
The Watanabe design was chosen by Liberty Ross from stylist Jonathan Kaye’s draft selection for the June 2005 SHOWstudio event. The dress is from Junya Watanabe’s Fall/Winter 2005 women’s collection—the coming season at the time of the project. The original dress was made in red mohair plaid with a PVC bodice:
Watanabe also showed a black version of the dress:
These dresses’ play with textural contrasts carried through the Fall/Winter 2005 Junya Watanabe women’s collection, which paired cotton and textured woolens with synthetics like nylon and PVC. The models wore full-skirted dresses, the skirts sometimes bunched up with ripcords, white shirts with exaggerated collars and ruffles, and coats and jackets made with tweed fused with synthetics. Watanabe referred to the clothes as “hard-core couture.” (See Cathy Horyn, “In Paris, Tweed Tangles With Tulle.”) Here’s the collection image from L’Officiel 1000 modèles (click to enlarge):
Fabric requirements: for skirt, approx. 2 yards of 50″ fabric*
Notions: #10 Vislon zipper, 3mm and 5mm sealing tape
* source: Craftster sewalong post