Krizia Playsuit – McCall’s 6624

September 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

Krizia_coverup

It’s officially fall now, but the recent warm weather gave Naomi and me the chance to photograph my late 1970s Krizia playsuit, made using McCall’s 6624. (See my post on Krizia patterns here).

McCall's 6624 by Krizia - 1970s playsuit and wrap skirt

McCall’s 6624 by Krizia (1979) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The playsuit bodice and shorts are pleated into a pointed, one-piece midriff band, and the whole thing closes at the front with a zipper and buttons. I love the shaped side vents on the shorts.

I used a black glitter stretch knit from my stash, found at Fabricland’s old downtown location. The pattern needed extensive resizing. Due to the mid-1970s unofficial sizing change (thanks to Peter for drawing my attention to this) the 10 was fine on top. (That’s my copy on the wiki.) I added some ease to the midriff band and adjusted the bodice and shorts to match up to it. I also lengthened the rise, added to the crotch length, and slashed to add some room in the hips. Yes, it’s a stretch knit, but I was trying to be faithful to the ease of the original.

This was my first time sewing a McCall’s “Carefree” pattern, and I found the instructions involved a little guesswork. I have also made up a ’70s Vogue pattern with similar design elements—midriff band, pleated dirndl skirt—and can vouch for Vogue’s more extensive markings and instructions. The McCall’s didn’t even have markings for the buttonholes. I carefully followed Vogue Sewing Book’s buttonhole instructions, but I suspect I made them too big. Perhaps vertical buttonholes would solve the problem?

If I were to make the playsuit again, I would add markings to the midriff piece to help line up the side seams etc., and also ease stitch across all the pleats (rather than just hand basting) to keep everything in place. The instructions say to finish the shorts with a narrow hem; I couldn’t see that working with my knit and the shaped side vents, so I did my best to mimic a serger finish (zigzag, trim, topstitch) and pressed the sides into relative submission. If I were making it again I would use fusible stay tape.

We photographed the playsuit by a local graffiti mural by Anser and Chou.

McCall's 6624 by Krizia (1979) - Noble St. mural in Parkdale, Toronto

McCall's 6624 by Krizia (1979)

The sparkle only shows up close:

1970s Krizia playsuit pattern - McCall's 6624

McCall's 6624 by Krizia (1979)

Here’s a view of the back pleats:

Krizia_back

The playsuit is so strappy, short, and unstructured that it falls more into the realm of loungewear. It’s a bit more practical when worn with a coverup.

McCall's 6624 by Krizia (1979)

(Sandals: Gareth Pugh for Melissa)

The Fantastic Mr Fox: Style Patterns by Frederick Fox

June 17, 2014 § 5 Comments

Queen Elizabeth II wears a Frederick Fox hat to the Silver Jubilee celebrations, 1977

Queen Elizabeth II wears a Frederick Fox hat with 25 “bells” to the Silver Jubilee celebrations, 1977. Photo: Douglas Kirkland. Image via Royal Hats.

Ascot begins today. To celebrate, this post is dedicated to commercial patterns by the late milliner to the Queen, Frederick Fox.

(Last year I featured a free pattern for a Stephen Jones hat; see it here.)

Diana, Princess of Wales wears a 'flying saucer' hat by Frederick Fox during the Royal Tour of Italy, 1985

Diana, Princess of Wales wears a ‘flying saucer’ hat by Frederick Fox during the Royal Tour of Italy, 1985. Photo: Tim Graham/AP. Image via People.

Born in Australia to a large family, Frederick Fox (1931-2013) showed an early interest in millinery, refashioning hats for his mother and five sisters in rural New South Wales. After training with several milliners in Sydney, in 1958 he moved to London. By 1964, Fox had taken over Langée to open his own salon.

Fox’s royal commission for Queen Elizabeth II grew out of his work with Hardy Amies in the mid-1960s. Shortly before this commission began, he designed the white leather crash helmets in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Fox was known for his witty designs, made with fine materials and great technical skill; he is credited with inventing the fascinator. (For more on Frederick Fox, see the recent D*Hub article and Stephen Jones’ reminiscence for British Vogue.)

Edwina Carroll in Kubrick's 2001 wearing a Frederick Fox crash helmet

Edwina Carroll as a PanAm space stewardess in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Costume by Hardy Amies; crash helmet by Frederick Fox. Image via eBay.

In the mid- to late 1980s, Frederick Fox millinery patterns were available from Style Patterns. Frederick Fox patterns display the Royal Warrant,* which he held from 1974 until his retirement in 2002.

Style 4788 is a pattern for bridal headpieces and veils. Included are both double- and single-layered veils, attached to three bases: a rose circlet edged with Russian braid, a beaded Juliet cap, and a twisted fabric headband. (The rose circlet may be worn alone.) View 1 was photographed with Style 4787, a bridal gown by Murray Arbeid, Fox’s companion of over 50 years:

1980s Frederick Fox bridal veils and headpieces pattern - Style 4788

Style 4788 by Frederick Fox (1986) Bridal head-dresses and veils.

Style 1072 is a pattern for a set of hats, including a beret, a turban, and a turban headband:

1980s Frederick Fox hat pattern - Style 1072

Style 1072 by Frederick Fox (c. 1986) Image via eBay.

Do you remember the ’80s hair ornament trend? Style 1157 is a pattern for a set of hair ornaments: a rosette with attached veil, a hair slide with large or small bow in 2 fabrics; and a headband with 2-fabric bow with optional diamante trim:

1980s Frederick Fox hair ornament pattern - Style 1157

Style 1157 by Frederick Fox (1987) Hair ornaments.

Style 1249 is a unusual for offering a set of bridal hats: a hat with attached veil and narrow brim turned up at the back, and two wide-brimmed, crownless hats (both attached to headbands):

1980s Frederick Fox bridal hats pattern - Style 1249

Style 1249 by Frederick Fox (1987) Bridal hats.

The original owner of my copy of Style 1249 had enclosed magazine pages showing these bridal designs; the text reads, “Head Turners: Hats for that special day by Frederick Fox exclusively for Style.” It may be that, like McCall’s designer patterns in the 1950s, these hats, veils, and headpieces were designed especially for Style Patterns.

* The Queen’s current milliner Rachel Trevor-Morgan is the only milliner on the current list of warrant holders.

Vintage Designer Menswear: Vogue Patterns

June 15, 2014 § 5 Comments

1970s Bill Blass men's jacket, sweater, shirt and necktie pattern - Vogue 2917

Vogue 2917 by Bill Blass (1973) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

It’s been some time since Vogue offered designer menswear patterns. In the 1970s and 1980s, home sewers could choose from licensed designs for everything from men’s shirts to outerwear and three-piece suits. In celebration of Father’s Day, here’s a selection of vintage menswear patterns from Vogue Patterns.

1970s

Vogue introduced designer menswear patterns in the early 1970s with designs by Bill Blass and Pierre Cardin. From Cardin, Vogue 2918 is a double-breasted coat in two lengths:

1970s Pierre Cardin men's coat pattern - Vogue 2918

Vogue 2918 by Pierre Cardin (1973) Image via Etsy.

1975 saw the release of some his-and-hers Valentino patterns. Vogue 1180, a men’s jacket and pants pattern, was photographed with a women’s Valentino ensemble, Vogue 1178:

1970s Valentino men's jacket and pants pattern - Vogue 1180

Vogue 1180 by Valentino (1975) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Polo by Ralph Lauren was introduced to Vogue customers in the summer of 1975. The safari-style Vogue 1237 and 1238 were photographed in India:

Polo Ralph Lauren men's patterns in Vogue Patterns May June 1975

Vogue 1237 and 1238 by Polo Ralph Lauren in Vogue Patterns, May/June 1975. Photos: Steve Horn. Image via Make Mine Vogue.

Also by Polo Ralph Lauren, Vogue 1581 is a double-breasted trench coat with detachable lining:

1970s Polo Ralph Lauren men's trench coat pattern - Vogue 1581

Vogue 1581 by Polo by Ralph Lauren (c. 1977) Image via Art Fashion Creation.

This Christian Dior shirt-jacket and pants is the only men’s Dior pattern I’ve seen:

1970s Christian Dior men's shirt-jacket and pants pattern - Vogue 1609

Vogue 1609 by Christian Dior (c. 1977) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This snappy three-piece suit is by Bill Blass:

1970s Bill Blass men's 3-piece suit pattern - Vogue 1620

Vogue 1620 by Bill Blass (1977) Image via patronescostura on Etsy.

There were two menswear patterns by Yves Saint Laurent: safari suits photographed by Chris von Wangenheim (see Paco’s related post here):

Yves Saint Laurent men's patterns in Vogue Patterns March April 1977

Vogue 1645 and 1644 by Yves Saint Laurent in Vogue Patterns, March/April 1977. Photos: Chris von Wangenheim. Image via Paco Peralta.

Givenchy licensed a trim three-piece suit, Vogue 2112:

1970s Givenchy menswear pattern - Vogue 2112

Vogue 2112 by Givenchy (1979) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

In 1979 the company released a trio of menswear patterns by Calvin Klein—separate patterns for a shirt, jacket, and pants. Vogue 2256 is a pattern for slim, tapered men’s pants; view B is low-rise and flat-front:

1970s Calvin Klein men's trousers pattern - Vogue 2256

Vogue 2256 by Calvin Klein (1979) Image via Etsy.

1980s

The menswear releases tapered off in the 1980s. 1980 saw the release of two Bill Blass men’s patterns, for a three-piece suit and close-fitting shirt:

1980s Bill Blass men's shirt pattern - Vogue 2586

Vogue 2586 by Bill Blass (1980) Image via Etsy.

In 1988 Vogue released three menswear patterns by Perry Ellis, for a jacket, shirt, and pants. Vogue 2207 is a loose-fitting jacket:

1980s Perry Ellis men's jacket pattern - Vogue 2207

Vogue 2207 by Perry Ellis (1988) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Just for fun, I’ll close with this Pierre Cardin robe and pajamas, which included a logo appliqué:

1970s Pierre Cardin men's pajamas and robe pattern - Vogue 2798 - moustachioed man on telephone

Vogue 2798 by Pierre Cardin (c. 1972) Image via Etsy.

With menswear sales catching up with womenswear, perhaps Vogue Patterns will capitalize on this trend by restoring menswear to its designer licensing. I’d be first in line for a Saint Laurent pattern…

Happy Father’s Day!

Free Designer Pattern: Patrick Kelly One-Seam Coat

May 5, 2014 § 5 Comments

Cotton coat by Patrick Kelly, 1985

One-seam coat by Patrick Kelly, 1985. Image via the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

As part of its current exhibition, Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is sharing a pattern for a one-seam coat designed by Patrick Kelly in 1984. (See my post on Patrick Kelly’s Vogue patterns here.)

After Kelly moved to Paris in 1979, he worked as a costume designer for Le Palace nightclub while also selling his coats on the sidewalk of the Boulevard Saint-Germain. When he secured a stall at Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, the famous Porte de Clignancourt flea market, his raw-edged jersey tube dresses caught the attention of his first backer, Françoise Chassagnac of Victoire. Thanks to Chassagnac’s connections, Kelly’s entire collection was featured in Elle magazine:

Les Tubes de Patrick Kelly, Elle France, February 18, 1985

“Les tubes de Patrick Kelly,” Elle France, February 18, 1985. Image via Shrimpton Couture.

Although the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s coat dates to 1985, the design is the same as those Kelly sold on the Boulevard Saint-Germain.

Kelly’s one-seam coat would become a recurring feature in the designer’s work. A rethinking of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s iconic 1961 one-seam coat, it may have been inspired by Issey Miyake’s cocoon coat—Kelly was once the house guest of Miyake’s publicist, Victoria Rivière, in Paris.

The original coat is a quilted cotton knit. It has a simple revers opening in front, box pleats in the back, and batwing sleeves formed by the shoulder seam:

Patrick Kelly one-seam coat illustration

These technical drawings show the coat front and back:

Patrick Kelly coat schematics

Download the one-seam coat pattern

Size: One size fits all

Fabric requirements: About 3.5 yards (3.2 m) of 60″ (~150 cm) fabric

Recommended fabrics: Fabrics with a good hand and drape, e.g. double knits and double-faced fabrics. The original is a quilted single knit.

Finished length: 52″ (132 cm)

Pattern length from top to bottom: 57.5″ (146 cm)

Tips, caveats: No separate instructions; scale and seam allowances are not marked. The coat must be cut on the cross grain. The original coat has a simple turn and stitch finish, with a sleeve binding piece for the sleeve openings.

A Parisian friend of Kelly’s has posted instructions to make a doll-scale version based on her Patrick Kelly original.

Thanks to Monica Brown, Senior Collections Assistant, Costume and Textiles, for answering questions about the project, and Paula M. Sim, Costume and Textiles intern, for drafting the pattern.

Patrick Kelly: Vogue Patterns

April 29, 2014 § 5 Comments

Patrick Kelly AW1988 Toscani

Patrick Kelly Fall 1988 collection. Photo: Oliviero Toscani. Image via Dazed Digital.

This past weekend, the exhibition Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love opened at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (Read WWD’s coverage here.) The show is the second Patrick Kelly retrospective since the designer’s death from AIDS in 1990. (The first was the Brooklyn Museum’s Patrick Kelly: A Retrospective in 2004.)

Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Patrick Kelly (1954-1990) found success as an expatriate in Paris: he was the first American, and also the first black designer, to be elected to the Chambre syndicale du prêt-à-porter. Much of Kelly’s work references his southern, African-American heritage through the use of vibrant colour, buttons and bows, and reappropriated black memorabilia motifs such as watermelons and golliwogs. (Patrick Kelly shopping bags emblazoned with his golliwog logo, as seen in the above photo, were deemed too controversial to be used in the United States.)

Embellished dresses from Patrick Kelly's Fall 1986 and Fall 1988 collections

Dresses from Patrick Kelly’s Fall 1986 and Fall 1988 collections. Image via the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Between 1988 and 1991, Vogue Patterns licensed Patrick Kelly designs, first in the Individualist line and later as Paris Originals. Here is a selection of Patrick Kelly sewing patterns, grouped by collection.

1. Patrick Kelly Spring/Summer 1988 prêt-à-porter

Vogue Patterns’ licensing began with Kelly’s Spring/Summer 1988 collection, his first under contract with Warnaco. This collection played with the culture and racial stereotypes of the American south. (Watch a YouTube video of the collection starting here.) Vogue 2077, the first of several Patrick Kelly patterns featuring African-American model Gail O’Neill, is a flamboyant peplum suit with back bow:

1980s Patrick Kelly peplum jacket and skirt - Vogue 2077

Vogue 2077 by Patrick Kelly (1988) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

The suit seems to have made the cover of Vogue Patterns magazine:

Vogue Patterns magazine, Summer 1988

Vogue Patterns magazine, Summer 1988. Image via Flickr.

Vogue 2078 is a tiered, off-the-shoulder dress for stretch knits:

1980s Patrick Kelly dress pattern - Vogue 2078

Vogue 2078 by Patrick Kelly (1988) Image via Etsy.

More knit dresses from this collection can be seen in this photo by Oliviero Toscani, the photographer best known for his controversial Benetton ads:

Patrick Kelly SS1988 Toscani

Patrick Kelly Spring 1988 collection. Photo: Oliviero Toscani. Image via the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

2. Patrick Kelly Fall/Winter 1988-89 prêt-à-porter

Variations on the heart motif characterized Kelly’s Fall 1988 collection, entitled More Love; the collection was later included in “Heart Strings,” a touring fundraiser for the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA). Vogue 2165 is a long-sleeved, colour-blocked dress with heart-shaped bodice:

1980s Patrick Kelly colour-blocked dress pattern - Vogue 2165

Vogue 2165 by Patrick Kelly (1988) Image via eBay.

A version with red contrast can be seen in Toscani’s ad campaign; the red bodice also appeared in the bridal look that closed the collection. Given the ‘love’ theme, it’s surprising that the red version was not photographed for the Vogue pattern:

Patrick Kelly Fall/Winter 1988 ad campaign. Photo: Oliviero Toscani

Patrick Kelly Fall 1988 ad campaign. Photo: Oliviero Toscani. Image via Philadelphia Museum of Art on tumblr.

Vogue 2304, a stretch-knit dress with Kelly’s trademark buttons applied in a rainbow triangle, is visible in the Toscani photo at the top of this post:

1980s Patrick Kelly dress pattern - Vogue 2304

Vogue 2304 by Patrick Kelly (1989) Image via Fashionista Fabrics.

3. Patrick Kelly Spring/Summer 1989 prêt-à-porter

Having just been elected to the Chambre syndicale in June 1988, Kelly showed a Mona Lisa-themed collection for Spring 1989 in the courtyard of the Louvre. Vogue 2286 is a pattern for a full skirt, wide-legged pants, and a double-breasted top with notched shawl collar:

1980s Patrick Kelly top, skirt, and pants pattern - Vogue 2286

Vogue 2286 by Patrick Kelly (1989) Image via eBay.

The red version of the top can be seen in this campaign photo by Oliviero Toscani:

Patrick Kelly Spring 1989 ad campaign. Photo: Oliviero Toscani

Patrick Kelly Spring 1989 ad campaign. Photo: Oliviero Toscani. Image via Dazed Digital.

4. Patrick Kelly Fall/Winter 1989 prêt-à-porter

Presented the year of the bicentenary of French Revolution, Kelly’s final collection was conceived as a celebration of France and America. Vogue 2385 is a shawl-effect dress designed for stretch knits; the contrast front inset extends into a shoulder drape. The illustration’s red drape version may be seen in Runway of Love:

1980s Patrick Kelly dress pattern - Vogue 2385

Vogue 2385 by Patrick Kelly (1989) Image via Etsy.

The grey stripe version was featured in the Fall/Winter 1989 ad campaign:

Patrick Kelly Fall 1989 ad campaign

Patrick Kelly Fall 1989 ad campaign. Photo: Oliviero Toscani. Image via Pinterest.

Vogue 2556 is a button-studded ensemble consisting of jacket, skirt, and coat. The design requires forty-one buttons for the jacket alone:

1990 Patrick Kelly suit and coat pattern - Vogue 2556

Vogue 2556 by Patrick Kelly (1990) Image via Etsy.

The Vogue 2556 jacket and skirt were photographed for this Apollo Landing-themed campaign image:

Patrick Kelly FW1989 Toscani

Patrick Kelly FW 1989 collection. Photo: Oliviero Toscani. Image via Philadelphia Museum of Art.

A hot pink version, included in the Philadelphia exhibit, has a matching hat and cape, and rainbow buttons:

Patrick Kelly FW1989

Patrick Kelly suit and cape ensemble, FW 1989 collection. Image via Dazed Digital.

Despite covering only two years, the sewing patterns are an excellent sample of Kelly’s bold and playful work.

Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love runs through November 30th, 2014.

Mad Men Era 9: Butterick’s Young Designers

April 24, 2014 § 2 Comments

Megan Draper (Jessica Paré) in a Mad Men season 7 promotional photo. Image via AMC.

My series on Mad Men-era designer patterns concludes this week with three Butterick Young Designers: Mary Quant, Jean Muir, and Emmanuelle Khanh.

In 1964, Butterick launched its Young Designers line, appealing to the youth market by licensing the work of up-and-coming, international fashion designers. The line would continue through the 1970s with the addition of new designers like Betsey Johnson, Jane Tise, and Kenzo. (For more on the Young Designers line see The Vintage Traveler’s Butterick Young Designers page.)

Mary Quant

Mary Quant (b. 1934) was the first designer to be signed to the new pattern line. Born in London, Quant met Archie McNair and her future husband, Alexander Plunket Greene, at art school; together they opened a boutique on the King’s Road, Bazaar, in 1955, selling Quant’s fun, youthful designs. Quant is perhaps most famous as a pioneer of the miniskirt. Butterick released its first Quant patterns, featuring Celia Hammond photographed by Terence Donovan, in the fall of 1964.

Butterick 5475 is a mini-length shirt dress with plenty of details including epaulets, side slits, and a self-buttoned belt:

1960s Mary Quant mini dress pattern - Butterick 5475

Butterick 5475 by Mary Quant (1969) Mini dress.

Jean Muir

Also born in London, Jean Muir (1928-1995) showed an early talent for dressmaking and needlework. During the 1950s, after working her way up from the stockroom at Liberty, she was hired as designer for Jaeger; she stayed with Jaeger until 1962, when she founded her first label, Jane & Jane. She launched her eponymous label in 1966. Muir was known for her fluid dresses with charming dressmaker details.

Butterick introduced Jean Muir patterns in the spring of 1965. This short, high-waisted dress dates to the late 1960s; the bodice front and slashed, modified raglan bell sleeves fasten with rows of tiny buttons:

1960s Jean Muir dress pattern - Butterick 5657

Butterick 5657 by Jean Muir (c. 1969) Image via eBay.

Emmanuelle Khanh

Born in Paris as Renée Mésière, Emmanuelle Khanh (b. 1937) married avant-garde industrial designer Quasar Khanh in the late 1950s, around the same time that she began working as a house model for Balenciaga and Givenchy. Turning her hand to fashion design, Khanh was soon at the forefront of yé-yé fashion (Paris’ answer to Youthquake), designing for brands including Cacharel and Missoni before launching her own label in 1969. (Read a 1964 LIFE magazine article about Khanh here.) Today her company focuses on accessories, particularly eyewear.

Butterick introduced Emmanuelle Khanh sewing patterns in the fall of 1965. This turquoise, suit-effect dress creates interesting effects with topstitching and collar details:

1960s Emmanuelle Khanh suit pattern on the cover of the Butterick Home Catalog, Fall 1965

Emmanuelle Khanh dress on the cover of the Butterick Home Catalog, Fall 1965. Image: myvintagevogue via Freshly Given.

The pattern is Butterick 3718. (Thanks to Jessica Hastings of myvintagevogue for confirming the number.) This photo shows a full-length view of the dress:

An Emmanuelle Khanh dress made from a Butterick sewing pattern in heavy turquoise blue wool jersey. The striped blue, grey and black stockings are by Corah and the suede buttoned gaiters and shoes by Rayne. The white stitched crepe hat is by Simone Mirman.

An Emmanuelle Khanh dress made from a Butterick sewing pattern in heavy turquoise blue wool jersey (1965) Image via Amazon.

It’s interesting to see an established company like Butterick responding to contemporary Sixties youth culture, facilitating access to Youthquake and yé-yé fashion in the process.

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.

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