Mad Men Era 8: McCall’s New York Designers

April 14, 2014 § 1 Comment

Jane and Roger at the Drapers' party, Mad Men season 5, episode 1-2

Jane and Roger Sterling (Peyton List and John Slattery) in Mad Men, season 5. Image via AMC.

With Mad Men entering its final season, my Mad Men-era series concludes with two posts on fashion designers whose work became available to home sewers in the mid-Sixties. (Browse the series by clicking the Mad Men era tag, or start at the beginning.)

Before the Vogue Americana line there was McCall’s New York Designers’ Collection. In the fall of 1965, McCall’s introduced a new pattern line: New York Designers’ Collection plus 1. (The “plus 1” refers to one foreign designer, Digby Morton; later, as McCall’s added designers to the line, it became “New York Designers’ Collection Plus.”)

The Fall/Winter 1965 issue of McCall’s Pattern Fashions & Home Decorating introduced readers to the new designers. According to the catalogue, the new line featured “the most outstanding fashions of seven leading American designers and one famous London couturier” (click to enlarge):

Meet McCalls New Designers 1965

Meet McCall’s new designers. McCall’s Pattern Fashions & Home Decorating, Fall-Winter 1965–66.

The original list of designers consisted of Larry Aldrich, Geoffrey Beene, Bill Blass, Laird-Knox, Digby Morton, Originala, Mollie Parnis, and Pauline Trigère, whose agreement with McCall’s dated to the mid-1950s. (Trigère was already featured in an earlier Mad Men era post.) Later additions would include Anne Klein, Jacques Tiffeau, and Rudi Gernreich.

This post looks at three of the best-known American designers in McCall’s new line: Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, and Anne Klein.

Bill Blass

Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Bill Blass (1922-2002) showed an early talent for fashion design, studying briefly at Parsons before enlisting in the U.S. military in 1942. After the war he returned to New York to work in the fashion industry; by 1959 he was head designer for Maurice Rentner—then a conservative, established Seventh Avenue label. (McCall’s patterns credit the designer as ‘Bill Blass for Maurice Rentner, Ltd.’) In 1970 he purchased the company and renamed it Bill Blass Ltd. Blass was known for his sophisticated but youthful designs favoured by high society. He retired in 1999.

McCall’s 8927 is an asymmetrical, sleeveless shift dress with applied bands and an inverted pleat on the left-hand side:

1960s Bill Blass dress pattern - McCall's 8927

McCall’s 8927 by Bill Blass (1967) Image via Etsy.

Geoffrey Beene

Born in Louisiana as Samuel Robert Bozeman Jr., Geoffrey Beene (1924-2004) trained at the Traphagen School of Fashion in New York and École de la Chambre Syndicale in Paris, where he also apprenticed with a tailor. Returning to New York, he worked at Harmay and Teal Traina before founding his own company in 1963. Beene was renowned for his innovative, modern designs, as well as his iconoclasm.

Veronica Hamel models McCall’s 1028, a dress cut in seven panels with seven-eighths kimono sleeves and triangular, bias collar:

McCalls 1028 (1968)

McCall’s 1028 by Geoffrey Beene (1968) Image via Etsy.

Anne Klein

Born in Brooklyn as Hannah Golofsky, Anne Klein (1923-1974) also trained at the Traphagen School of Fashion. The pioneer in American sportswear worked in petites and juniors before founding Anne Klein and Company in the late 1960s. Her final collection was completed by Donna Karan, who had begun work at the company in the summer of 1967 as Klein’s intern.

McCall’s 1020 is a sleeveless shift dress with angular armholes and fabulous standing (and convertible) collar. The model is Hellevi Keko:

McCalls 1020 (1967)

McCall’s 1020 by Anne Klein (1967) Image via MOMSPatterns.

All three New York designers would later make the switch to Vogue Patterns: Blass in 1967, Beene and Klein in the 1970s.

Next: Butterick’s Young Designers: Mary Quant, Jean Muir, and Emmanuelle Khanh.

Schiaparelli Patterns, Part 2

March 5, 2014 § 11 Comments

Vogue 15 Nov 49_a

Paris Originals by Schiaparelli (left) and Jacques Heim (right). Vogue, November 15, 1949. Photo: Richard Rutledge.

This week, the second part of my series on commercial sewing patterns by Elsa Schiaparelli. (See Part 1 here.)

Schiaparelli was one of the eight couturiers who licensed designs for the first Vogue Paris Originals in 1949. Vogue’s first Schiaparelli pattern was a skirt suit with double pockets and one-sleeved blouse, Vogue 1051:

1940s Schiaparelli suit and blouse pattern - Vogue 1051

Vogue 1051 by Schiaparelli (1949) Image via the Blue Gardenia blog.

The suit was photographed in Paris by Clifford Coffin:

Vogue 1 Mar 1949 Schiaparelli

Vogue 1051 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, March 1, 1949. Photo: Clifford Coffin.

The photo that opens this post shows Vogue 1074, a Schiaparelli dress and shortcoat from Vogue’s fourth series of Paris Originals. The original coat was lined with astrakhan. (The suit on the right is Vogue 1076 by Jacques Heim.)

1940s Schiaparelli coat and dress pattern - Vogue 1074

Vogue 1074 by Schiaparelli (1949) Image via Pinterest.

New Look curves characterize this Schiaparelli suit pattern from spring, 1950, which was photographed in Paris by Norman Parkinson. The short-sleeved jacket has rounded, stiffened hips, while the kimono-sleeved blouse buttons its curved fronts to one side. Vogue recommends making the blouse from the suit’s lining fabric:

1950s Schiaparelli suit and blouse pattern - Vogue 1098

Vogue 1098 by Schiaparelli (1950) Image via eBay. Photo: Norman Parkinson.

Vogue 1133 is a vampy, short-sleeved dress with hip-enhancing pocket flaps and convertible collar at both front and back:

1950s Schiaparelli dress pattern - Vogue 1133

Vogue 1133 by Schiaparelli (1951) Image via eBay.

Arik Nepo’s photograph plays up the dress’ severity:

Vogue 1133 15Feb1951

Vogue 1133 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, February 15, 1951. Photo: Arik Nepo.

Vogue 1142 is a faux suit, an asymmetrical dress with a skirt front extension that creates the illusion of a jacket on one side. (Much like Galliano’s Givenchy jumpsuit, Vogue 1887.) The shaped projections of the big, rounded collar, skirt extension, and off-kilter double-breasted closure playfully destabilize the garment:

1950s Schiaparelli dress pattern - Vogue 1148

Vogue 1148 by Schiaparelli (1951) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This Schiaparelli evening dress pattern, Vogue 1144, includes a petticoat and diaphanous kerchief. Look closely, and you can see that the oversized, decorative pockets extend almost the length of the skirt:

Vogue 1144 by Schiaparelli (1951) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Here’s a closer look at Henry Clarke’s photo:

Vogue 1144 15 May 1951

Vogue 1144 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, May 15, 1951. Photo: Henry Clarke.

In 1952 Schiaparelli showed inverted heart necklines for spring; with its pointed, stand-away neckline and narrow shawl collar, Vogue 1179 allowed the home dressmaker to be right up to date. The cocktail dress closes with not one but two side zippers:

Vogue 1179 (1952)

Vogue 1179 by Schiaparelli (1952) Image via eBay.

Vogue magazine showed an alternate photo by Robert Randall:

Vogue 1179 15May1952

Vogue 1179 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, May 15, 1952. Photo: Robert Randall.

Frances McLaughlin photographed Bettina in Vogue 1198, a short evening dress with what Vogue called “a big pleated bandage—like an outside order ribbon” wrapping over one shoulder and around the waist. The original was made in black silk brocade:

Vogue 1198 15 Oct 1952

Vogue 1198 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, October 15, 1952. Model: Bettina. Photo: Frances McLaughlin.

Here’s a catalogue page for Vogue 1198, with illustration and alternate photo:

Vogue 1198 catalogue

Vogue 1198 in a 1950s Vogue Patterns counter catalogue.

Vogue 1231 is a day dress with a single patch pocket and bloused bodice gathered to a dramatic convertible collar:

1950s Schiaparelli dress pattern - Vogue 1231

Vogue 1231 by Schiaparelli (1953) Image via Betsy Vintage.

The dress was photographed in Paris by Robert Randall:

Vogue 1231 15Aug1953

Vogue 1231 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, August 15, 1953. Photo: Robert Randall.

Finally, Vogue 1245 is a long evening dress with an attached stole that passes through the bodice front:

Drawing showing details of Schiaparelli evening dress pattern - Vogue 1245

Illustration for Vogue 1245 by Schiaparelli (1954)

The stunning gown was photographed by Roger Prigent:

Vogue 1245 1Jan1954

Vogue 1245 by Schiaparelli. Vogue, January 1, 1954. Photo: Roger Prigent.

If you don’t have the budget for an original Schiaparelli pattern, a reproduction of the one-sleeved stole from Vogue 1068 is available from Decades of Style:

Vogue 1068 by Schiaparelli. Sketch by David

Vogue 1068 by Schiaparelli. Sketch by David, Vogue, August 1, 1949.

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