Year of the Horse: Vintage Equestrian Patterns

January 31, 2014 § 6 Comments

1927 Vogue illustration of a Busvine sidesaddle habit by Guillermo Bolin

Busvine sidesaddle ensemble in Vogue, 1927. Illustration: Guillermo Bolin. Image: Man and the Horse.

Happy Chinese new year! In honour of the Year of the Horse, here’s a selection of equestrian sewing patterns from the 1920s to the 1990s.

Like tennis wear, modern equestrian wear begins in the 1920s. Before the First World War, women generally rode sidesaddle; equestriennes wore fashionably voluminous riding skirts designed to fall flatteringly on horseback, with breeches underneath. In addition to 19th-century Harper’s Bazaar patterns for riding habits, the Commercial Pattern Archive’s “Riding” category reveals a 1909 pattern for ladies’ riding breeches (Butterick 3313), and two divided equestrian skirts from the early teens (Butterick 5792 and Pictorial Review 5003).

By 1920 the major American pattern companies were producing commercial patterns for women’s jodhpurs—often called riding breeches. As the illustration at the top of this post shows, some women continued to ride sidesaddle, even into the 1930s, but I haven’t found any modern patterns for sidesaddle riding habits.

1920s Saks advertisement illustration for equestrian wear, March 1925.

Illustration from a Saks Fifth Avenue advertisement, spring 1925.

1920s

Butterick 2255, circa 1920, is a pattern for a riding coat and breeches worthy of Lady Mary. The envelope specifies that the design is for cross saddle riding:

Early 1920s cross saddle riding habit pattern - Butterick 2255

Butterick 2255 (1920) Image via the Commercial Pattern Archive, Kevin L. Seligman collection. For research purposes only.

This 1920 McCall pattern for riding breeches shows the pattern diagram and instructions on the envelope (click to enlarge):

Early 1920s riding breeches pattern - McCall 9536

McCall 9536 (1920) Ladies’ riding breeches. Image via eBay.

I have this 1923 jodhpurs pattern in my collection—for when I learn to ride, of course:

1920s jodhpurs sewing pattern - McCall 3214

McCall 3214 (1923) Ladies’ riding breeches.

This McCall’s illustration of a riding coat and breeches is from the same year, but it shows a different breeches pattern, as well as a more streamlined riding coat than a few years previous:

1920s McCall Quarterly illustration of a riding jacket and jodhpurs

McCall Quarterly, Fall 1923. Image via eBay.

For more on 1920s equestrian wear see Unsung Sewing Patterns‘ posts on Butterick 4147, a pair of riding knickers, and Pictorial Review 1435 and 1438, a riding jacket and breeches.

1930s

Jodhpurs were not just for equestrian sports: they were the “trousers of adventure,” worn for activities like driving, hiking and camping, safaris, and aviation. This early ’30s illustration from Pictorial Review shows the latest sports styles, including beach pajamas and clothes for tennis and golf. The riding habit includes a sleeveless jacket or waistcoat (click to enlarge):

1930s Pictorial Review 5554 riding jacket and 5553 breeches, Pictorial Review Fashion Book, Summer 1931

Sports fashions in Pictorial Review Fashion Book, Summer 1931. Image via eBay.

Butterick 5647 is a pattern for cuffed, fall-front jodhpurs with notched back waist and side and back pockets. Nabby at This Old Life made these for her vintage aviatrix costume (click image for post):

1930s jodhpurs pattern - Butterick 5647

Butterick 5647 (c. 1934) Image via This Old Life.

McCall 9412, from September 1937, looks to be a rare early pattern for western-style riding pants, with reinforced seat and inner leg. I’d love to see a better-quality image; this one was found in a lot on eBay:

1930s riding pants pattern - McCall 9412

McCall 9412 (1937) Image via eBay.

Also from the late 1930s, Pictorial Review 9337 is a pattern for a tailored shirt and sleek pair of riding trousers:

1930s riding trousers and shirt pattern - Pictorial Review 9337

Pictorial Review 9337 (c. 1938) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

1970s

Apart from children’s equestrian patterns, I couldn’t find any patterns from the major pattern companies that were specifically for riding until the 1970s, when western-style riding wear was in fashion. McCall’s 4870 includes riding pants and a shirt-jacket with contrast, embroidered yoke and cuffs. The model is Angeleen Gagliano, who was a horsewoman in real life:

1970s riding jacket-shirt, pants, and skirt pattern - McCall's 4870

McCall’s 4870 (1975) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This Butterick pattern by Jane Tise shows the vogue for western shirts:

1970s Jane Tise western shirt pattern - Butterick 5629

Butterick 5629 by Jane Tise (1970s) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Vogue even had a his-and-hers western shirt pattern, Vogue 8973/8976 (the ’70s-averse are advised not to click the links).

The influence of the western shirt is evident in this Halston dress with scalloped yoke:

1970s Halston dress pattern - McCall 6841

McCall 6841 by Halston (1979) Image via Betsy Vintage.

1980s

Many of you will remember the 1980s jodhpurs trend, when you could dress for English-style riding far from any stable. Exhibit A is New Look 6013:

1980s jodhpurs sewing pattern - New Look 6013

New Look 6013 (1980s) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

There were also faux jodhpurs—pleated, tapered pants like those in Burda 5332 or McCall’s 2077.

Gianni Versace and Claude Montana both showed jodhpurs in the ’80s, but unfortunately Vogue Patterns doesn’t seem to have released any patterns for them. Just for fun, here’s a Lord Snowdon photo of aristocrat Angela Rawlinson in a jacket and tweed jodhpurs by John McIntyre:

1980s Lord Snowdon photo for Vogue of Angela Rawlinson in a John McIntyre equestrian look

John McIntyre jacket and jodhpurs, Vogue, July 1985. Photo: Lord Snowdon. Model: Angela Rawlinson.

1990s

Little Vogue 7876, with its young model leaning on a stone balustrade, is interesting for showing the social ambition associated with horseback riding. The jodhpurs are a little loose for actual riding (the similarly styled Vogue 7842 also has a looser fit):

1990s girl's equestrian/jodhpurs pattern - Little Vogue 7876

Little Vogue 7876 (1990) Image via Etsy.

With the advent of stretch fabrics, riding pants no longer needed lots of room in the upper leg. These jodhpurs by Calvin Klein have a sleeker fit that’s more in line with late 20th-century equestrian wear. They come with detachable stirrups, and may be made in synthetic suede:

Early 1990s Calvin Klein jodhpurs and shirt pattern - Vogue 2513

Vogue 2513 by Calvin Klein (1990) Image via Etsy.

McCall’s 6737’s riding pants are for stretch fabrics, reinforced with leather or ultrasuede in the seat and inner leg. The pattern also marks a return to the waistcoat:

1990s NY/NY riding pattern - McCall's 6737

McCall’s 6737 by NY/NY (1993) Image via Etsy.

Vogue 1655 by DKNY brings us full circle: the riding-style jacket was photographed in traditional scarlet at a country estate:

1990s DKNY riding jacket pattern - Vogue 1655

Vogue 1655 by DKNY (1995) Image via Etsy.

For more on the history of women’s equestrian wear see Mackay-Smith, Druesedow, and Ryder’s Man and the Horse: An Illustrated History of Equestrian Apparel (Simon and Schuster, 1984), which was published to accompany the Polo/Ralph Lauren-sponsored Costume Institute exhibit held from December, 1984 to September, 1985.

If you’d like to sew your own sidesaddle riding habit, reproductions of early French magazine patterns for costumes d’amazone (women’s riding habits) are available from eBay shop Au fil du temps. For a modern equestrian look, Folkwear’s Equestriennes pattern, Folkwear 506, includes a riding jacket, waistcoat, and jodhpurs based on garments in the collection of the Costume Institute.

Special thanks to Naomi for acting as my in-house equestrianism consultant.

Vintage Bridal Patterns

June 12, 2013 § 6 Comments

1930s Blanche Rothschild illustration of a bridal gown, McCall 9284 circa June 1937

McCall 9284 illustration by Blanche Rothschild, ca. June 1937. Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Vintage bridal patterns offer a unique alternative to modern bridal designs. Even if you’re already married, they provide a glimpse into past bridal fashions’ sometimes exotic vintage details—making them tempting even for those not in need of a wedding dress. (Can we expect Debi Fry to make her 1940 bridal pattern, McCall 4004?)

Now that wedding season is in full swing, here’s a selection of vintage bridal patterns, from the Twenties to the Eighties.

1920s

In the Twenties and Thirties, bridal patterns usually did double duty as patterns for formal dresses. This 1920s Peerless Patterns sign features a wedding illustration promoting a number of patterns:

1920s Peerless Patterns advertising poster with bridal scene

1920s Peerless Patterns advertising poster. Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

This fantastic bridal or evening dress is short, in keeping with the current fashion, and may have one or two extended side panels that give the effect of a train:

1920s evening or bridal dress pattern - McCall 4985 CoPA-KLS

McCall 4985 (1927) Image via the Commercial Pattern Archive, Kevin L. Seligman collection. For research purposes only.

1930s

Thirties bridal patterns have the same glamour we associate with the decade’s evening wear. This pattern for a bridal gown or dinner dress dates to circa June 1934:

1930s bridal gown or dinner dress pattern - McCall 7852

McCall 7852 (1934) Image via Etsy.

A reproduction version of this pattern for a bridal gown or afternoon dress is available from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library:

1930s bridal gown or afternoon dress pattern - McCall 8331

McCall 8331 (1935) Bridal gown or afternoon dress.

A copy of McCall 8331 recently seen on eBay was accompanied by this wedding portrait, which shows the dress made up:

San Francisco estate wedding portrait showing McCall 8331

1930s wedding portrait from a San Francisco estate. Image via eBay.

1940s

In the Forties the bride begins to take centre stage on pattern envelopes, although evening and bridesmaid versions are still included. This bridal or evening dress was reissued in the Vintage Vogue line as Vogue 2384:

1940s Vogue Special Design wartime bridal pattern S-4532

Vogue S-4532 (1944) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This strong-shouldered, postwar design has a sweetheart neckline and waist piping detail. The pattern also includes a bridesmaid’s dress with short, shirred sleeves (click image for the technical drawings):

1940s bridal pattern - McCall 6353

McCall 6353 (1946) Image via Etsy.

1950s

By the 1950s the bride, in her full-skirted glory, dominates the pattern envelope. This Jacques Fath design for a bride’s or bridesmaid’s dress has a bustled back and tiny shawl collar. The bridesmaid’s version simply lacks a train:

1950s Jacques Fath bridal pattern - Vogue 1331

Vogue 1331 by Jacques Fath (1956) Image via carbonated on flickr.

John Cavanagh was known for his connection to the English court. He licensed several bridal patterns with Vogue, and designed the Duchess of Kent’s wedding dress in 1961. (See my earlier post here.) This short-sleeved Cavanagh design has a simulated train; the smaller figures show bridesmaid’s and evening versions:

1950s John Cavanagh bridal pattern - Vogue 148

Vogue 148 by John Cavanagh (1958) Image via VADS.

1960s

Also by John Cavanagh, this 1960s bridal design with a cathedral-length Watteau train was modelled by Jean Shrimpton:

1960s John Cavanagh wedding dress pattern - Vogue 1347

Vogue 1347 by John Cavanagh (1964) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

No bridal pattern survey could be complete without this Halston pattern for bridal headpieces:

Vogue 7082 Halston of Bergdorf Goodman 1960s bridal headpieces pattern

Vogue 7082 by Halston of Bergdorf Goodman (c. 1965) Image via eBay.

1970s

From the early 1970s, this Pierre Cardin bridal gown, shown in a silk knit, has an optional overskirt with handkerchief train:

1970s Pierre Cardin bridal gown pattern - Vogue 2520

Vogue 2520 by Pierre Cardin (1971) Image via eBay.

Vogue 2520 back

Illustration and technical drawing for Vogue 2520. Image via eBay.

Although it isn’t for everyone, Yves Saint Laurent’s couture bridal design for a gathered, bias dress, filmy coat, and five-yard veil distinguishes itself by showing the bride as wayward Vestal virgin (see Paco Peralta’s post here):

1970s Yves Saint Laurent bridal pattern - Vogue 1590

Vogue 1590 by Yves Saint Laurent (c. 1976) Image via Patrones Costura on Etsy.

1980s

Released in 1980, this opulent Dior design for a bell-skirted bridal gown, complete with bias necktie, cummerbund, and bow-embellished headpiece, is drawn from the Christian Dior Haute Couture collection for Fall 1979 (read Dustin’s post here):

1979 Christian Dior couture bridal gown pattern - Vogue 2545

Vogue 2545 by Christian Dior (1980) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Perfect for steampunk weddings, Vogue 2180 by Bellville Sassoon has an elaborate bustle that gives it a neo-Victorian flair:

1980s Bellville Sassoon bridal or evening pattern - Vogue 2180

Vogue 2180 by Bellville Sassoon (1989) Image via eBay.

For more on the history of bridal fashion, see the V&A Weddings page and Edwina Ehrman’s The Wedding Dress: 300 Years of Bridal Fashions (V&A, 2011).

Angeleen

October 26, 2012 § 4 Comments

Angeleen on the cover of Vogue UK, February 1974

Angeleen on the cover of British Vogue, February 1974. Photo: Norman Parkinson. Image via Alice Mary Barnes.

Southern beauty queen and model Angeleen (1950-2009) is a familiar face to vintage pattern aficionados. Born Angelina Marie Gagliano, she was also a keen equestrian—she is the model in Chris von Wangenheim’s circa 1975 series Untitled (Woman with horse). (It’s her horse. See prints at Christie’s and Staley-Wise Gallery.) Her son, Jason Storch, has posted a short bio here.

Angeleen did a lot of work for Simplicity, McCall’s, and especially Vogue Patterns in the mid-1970s. Here she is on the cover of a Very Easy Vogue catalogue:

Vogue catalogue March 1976

Very Easy Vogue Patterns catalogue, March 1976. Image via eBay.

Angeleen can be seen on some of the earliest Vogue patterns from Sonia Rykiel, Chloé, and Calvin Klein:

1970s Sonia Rykiel pattern, Vogue 1379

Vogue 1379 by Sonia Rykiel (1976) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Vogue 1424 by Chloé

Vogue 1424 by Chloé (1976)

1970s Calvin Klein pattern, Vogue 1369

Vogue 1369 by Calvin Klein (1976) Image via Etsy.

Here she models Halston’s spiral-cut dress for McCall’s (see Dustin’s recent post on this pattern here):

1970s Halston pattern featuring Angeleen, McCall's 5103

McCall’s 5103 by Halston (1976) Image via Make Mine Vogue.

My personal favourite patterns featuring Angeleen are the ones for ’70s evening wear, like these designs from Balmain and Lanvin:

Vogue 1218 by Pierre Balmain

Vogue 1218 by Pierre Balmain (1975) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Vogue 1147 by Lanvin

Vogue 1147 by Lanvin (1975) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

See youthquaker’s blog and facebook for more photos of Angeleen from British Vogue. Thanks to Jason Storch for his assistance.

Caped Crusaders: Vintage Cape Patterns

September 25, 2012 § 7 Comments

Originator 299, a 1950s cape pattern

Originator 299 (c. 1952) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The cape trend of the last two years shows no sign of abating. (Read a Fashionising post about the trend here.) In terms of sewing patterns, Donna Karan’s V2924 was ahead of the trend (see Erica B’s version here) and this fall we have V1322 by DKNY. Paco Peralta has several cape designs available including the sculptural Funghi. In vintage reissues, Butterick has re-released some vintage cape patterns in their Retro line: B6329 (from 1935) and B6411 (a reissue of Butterick 4570 from 1948).

I often find myself reaching for the vintage version of a current trend, and I’ll have a cape project to share with you soon. While looking for the right pattern, I was struck by the variety of cape designs over the decades. Here’s a selection of vintage cape patterns from the Twenties to the Eighties.

1920s

Two 1920s patterns in my collection have capes with interesting details. This mid-Twenties pattern for a dress by Renée also includes a cape with button/strap closure:

1920s cape and dress pattern, McCall 4134, "Original Creation by Renee Paris"

McCall 4134 by Renée (1925)

And I still love the pointed yoke of this Miler Soeurs cape (see my grey version here):

1920s cape pattern, McCall 4459 by Miler Soeurs

McCall 4459 by Miler Soeurs (1926)

1930s

The Thirties were a good decade for capes. This 1936 copy of McCall Style News shows a matching cape and dress ensemble:

McCall 8629 illustration, February 1936 McCall Style News cover

McCall Style News, February 1936. Image via Etsy.

Sewing bloggers’ 1930s capes show how contemporary these vintage outerwear styles can look today. Debi’s mid-Thirties cape pattern has a similar look to the ensemble illustrated above, but with a false front creating the illusion of a matching jacket. Click the image to see her finished version:

1930s cape pattern, McCall 8501

McCall 8501 (1935) Image via My happy sewing place.

Puu’s late ’30s cape has a high-collared yoke, arm slits, and rounded, gathered shoulders (click the image for her construction post and see the finished version here):

1930s cape pattern, Simplicity 2522

Simplicity 2522 (c. 1938) Image via puu’s door of time.

1940s

The fashion for capes continued into the Forties. The decade’s strong-shouldered silhouette is visible in these two cape patterns from my collection. The first, from the early ’40s, has a pronounced, boxy shape and optional broad stand-up collar:

Early 1940s cape pattern, McCall 4134

McCall 4134 (1941)

The second cape shades into New Look sleekness, with a narrower collar and lower hemline:

Late 1940s cape pattern, McCall 7179

McCall 7179 (1948)

1950s

In the Fifties, capes showed a de-emphasis on the shoulders and a fullness that carries over to the early ’60s. Vogue 1089 by Robert Piguet is actually from 1949; I thought it might really be a capelet, but the envelope description calls it a “flared cape with diagonal double-breasted closing below soft shaped collar”:

1949 cape and dress pattern, Vogue 1089 by Robert Piguet

Vogue 1089 by Robert Piguet (1949) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Here’s an illustration of the Piguet ensemble by Bernard Blossac:

Bernard Blossac illustration of a cape by Robert Piguet, 1949

Bernard Blossac illustration of a cape and dress by Robert Piguet, 1949. Image via Hprints.

This mid-Fifties cape by Jacques Fath has big, buttoned cuffs at the arm vents. The shaped collar is part of the suit underneath:

1950s cape pattern, Vogue 1358 by Jacques Fath

Vogue 1358 by Jacques Fath (1956) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

1960s

The Sixties were another good decade for capes. On this Vogue Pattern Book cover, Wilhelmina Cooper exemplifies the “thoroughbred look” of Fall 1963 in a tailored yellow cape:

Wilhelmina Cooper models a yellow cape on the cover of Vogue Pattern Book, October/November 1963.

Vogue Pattern Book, October/November 1963. Model: Wilhelmina Cooper. Image via flickr.

This elegant cape by Nina Ricci has a wide shawl collar and is shaped by released inverted darts. The model is Maggie Eckhardt:

1960s cape and dress pattern, Vogue 1217 by Nina Ricci

Vogue 1217 by Nina Ricci (1963) Image via Etsy.

Astrid Heeren models this fabulous mod cape by Pierre Cardin:

Mod 1960s cape pattern: Vogue 1722 by Pierre Cardin

Vogue 1722 by Pierre Cardin (1967) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This late ’60s design by Pucci is modelled by Birgitta af Klercker and was photographed in Rome at La Cisterna:

Late 1960s cape pattern, Vogue 2231 by Pucci

Vogue 2231 by Pucci (1969) Image via Etsy.

1970s

As the Seventies progressed, capes generally kept their collars, but gained a new fluidity. This mid-Seventies Halston “poncho-cape” has a collar and button front, but is reversible:

1970s cape pattern, McCall's 3966 by Halston

McCall’s 3966 by Halston (1974) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This late ’70s Chloé design by Karl Lagerfeld, featuring Jerry Hall, includes a three-quarter length, circular cape with pointed bias collar. The cape gets its strong shoulders from an inside button and tab at each shoulder:

Late 1970s cape ensemble pattern, Vogue 2020 by Chloé

Vogue 2020 by Chloé (1978) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

1980s

In the Eighties, fluidity gained the upper hand, as seen in these full, collarless, and unstructured capes by Yves Saint Laurent:

1980s cape pattern by Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue 2790

Vogue 2790 by Yves Saint Laurent (c. 1982) Model: Terri May.

Late 1980s cape by Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue 2163

Vogue 2163 by Yves Saint Laurent (1988) Image via Etsy.

Would you wear a vintage cape, or do you prefer the cape’s more recent incarnations?

Mad Men Era 7: Millinery

June 4, 2012 § 4 Comments

Carolyn model Cassandra Jean Tomorrowland Mad Men Season 4

Carolyn (Cassandra Jean) in “Tomorrowland” (Mad Men, Season 4)

This week, four milliners who licensed their designs with Vogue in the early Sixties: Sally Victor, John Frederics, Guy Laroche, and Halston.

Sally Victor

Sally Victor (1905-1977) was one of the United States’ most prominent and successful milliners. She began her career as a department store buyer in the 1920s; after her marriage to the milliner ‘Serge’ (Sergiu Victor) she turned to designing hats, first for her husband’s salon and, from 1934, at her own custom millinery studio. Victor was known for her wearable yet sophisticated designs showing a diversity of influences.

Vogue 9992 is a pillbox hat with a large bow on the right-hand side:

1960s Sally Victor pillbox hat pattern - Vogue 9992

Vogue 9992 by Sally Victor (c. 1960) Pillbox with bow. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

John Frederics

John-Frederics was founded in 1929 by partners John P. Harberger (1902-1993) and Frederick Hirst (1906-1964). The duo designed hats for Hollywood productions including Gone With the Wind (1939), in which Vivien Leigh wore their straw hat. The label has a confusing history because of the partners’ subsequent name-changes: John P. Harberger changed his name twice, first to John Frederics and later, after the partnership dissolved in 1948, to John P. John; he designed solo as Mr. John, and Frederick Hirst as Mr. Fred. (Vogue also had Mr. John patterns in the 1950s.) It was Hirst who continued the John-Frederics label into the early 1960s.

Vogue 5384 is a simple but dramatic toque with fold-over detail and jewel embellishment:

1960s John Frderics hat pattern - Vogue 5384

Vogue 5384 by John Frederics (1961) Toque. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Guy Laroche

Guy Laroche (featured in my previous Mad Men era post) started out as a millinery designer. I have seen one hat pattern by Laroche: Vogue 5336, described on the envelope back as a ‘profile toque’ trimmed with knot-tied ends. Version B has contrast trim:

Vogue 5336 by Guy Laroche 1960s hat pattern

Vogue 5336 by Guy Laroche (1961) Toque. Image via eBay.

Vogue 5336 was featured in the August/September 1961 issue of Vogue Pattern Book (second from the left):

Vogue Pattern Book illustration August/September 1961 hats

Illustration from Vogue Pattern Book, August/September 1961.

Halston

Born Roy Halston Frowick, Halston (1932-1990) also started out as a millinery designer. In 1957 he opened his own hat shop in Chicago; by 1959 he had relocated to New York to design hats for Bergdorf Goodman. He achieved fame as a milliner when Jacqueline Kennedy wore his pillbox hat to John F. Kennedy’s 1961 presidential inauguration. Vogue’s hat patterns refer to him as Halston of Bergdorf Goodman.

Vogue 7082 is a set of flower-like bridal headpieces made of soft fabric ‘petals':

1960s Halston pattern: Vogue 7082 by Halston of Bergdorf Goodman 1960s bridal headpieces pattern

Vogue 7082 by Halston of Bergdorf Goodman (c. 1965) Bridal headpieces. Image via eBay.

Vogue 7082 was promoted with the wedding dress pattern Vogue 1745 (see pattern images here). The bridal headpieces are similar to this green one, pictured in Vogue magazine in April 1963:

Vogue ad Halston hat headpiece 1963

Halston headpiece, Vogue, 1 April 1963. Image via Etsy.

This group of milliners, old and new, seem to reflect the fortunes of millinery in the twentieth century. By the Sixties, Sally Victor and John-Frederics were established labels run by senior designers nearing the ends of their careers, while the younger designers, Guy Laroche and Halston, were to leave millinery to focus on fashion design.

Next: McCall’s New York Designers: Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, and Anne Klein.

I Heart Disco

August 22, 2011 § 4 Comments

From McCall’s 4046 by Halston (1974).

This week, some favourite disco patterns!

The term ‘disco’ is a little nebulous. Disco music was popular from the mid-1970s to about 1980. Its huge popularity led to an anti-disco backlash that’s come to be symbolized by Disco Demolition Night, a.k.a. the ‘Disco Riots,’ which took place in the summer of 1979 (see Jo Meek, “Earth, Wind and Pyre,” and Joe Lapointe, “The Night Disco Went Up in Smoke”). Studio 54, the famous New York City nightclub that effectively stands for disco hedonism today, was open from 1977 until 1986. In this slideshow, you can see Andy Warhol partying at the club with Bianca Jagger, Liza Minelli, and Halston, as well as Diana Ross, Deborah Harry, and even a young Tom Ford.

For the purposes of this post, I’m going by my personal definition of disco style: glam evening wear that’s more party girl than society doyenne, all from the mid-’70s to the early ’80s. As I edited down my initial list I found the best designs shared elements like fluid draping and halter necks or one-shouldered bodices. Also, of the seven patterns, three are jumpsuits or give the impression of being a jumpsuit. Here’s my disco patterns best-of, ordered chronologically:

1. Vogue 2870 – Lanvin, 1973. Modelled by Karen Bjornson. Bjornson, who is virtually ubiquitous on later ’70s Vogue Patterns, was Halston’s house model. The (fantastic) photo makes the design look like a jumpsuit, but the pattern is actually for evening separates: palazzo pants with no side seams and a halter top with a wide midriff band that gives a cummerbund effect.

Vogue 2870 by Lanvin (1973) Evening top and pants. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

2. Vogue 2014 – Givenchy, 1978. Modelled by the young Gia Carangi, the late, queer supermodel who was brought back to the spotlight by the HBO movie Gia starring Angelina Jolie. This gorgeous evening dress has a crisscrossed halter neck and calls for an eighteen-inch tassel down the back. I have this one in my collection and plan to make it sometime in a silk or viscose jersey, but I think I need to learn to make tassels first.

Vogue 2014 by Givenchy (1978). Evening dress for stretch knits. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

3. Vogue 2173 – Chloé, 1979. No disco collection could be complete without this design by Karl Lagerfeld for Chloé. The one-shouldered evening dress comes with a reversible contrast shawl. I don’t know why, but to me this is the perfect late seventies-early eighties colour combination.

1970s Chloé evening dress pattern - Vogue 2173

Vogue 2173 by Chloé (1979). Evening dress, tie, and shawl. Image via momspatterns.

4. Vogue 2307 – Givenchy, 1979. Modelled by Tara Shannon. Another beautifully fluid Givenchy design, with the asymmetrical, one-shouldered bodice balanced by draping at the opposite hip. This is another one in my collection; I have a length of deep purple chiffon (originally used in a Hallowe’en costume) that’s just enough to make the cocktail version, but I haven’t yet found the occasion where I could get away with that much purple chiffon.

Vogue 2307 by Givenchy (1979). One-shouldered cocktail or evening dress. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

5. Vogue 2313 – Yves Saint Laurent, 1979. Modelled by Tara Shannon. A fabulous opera coat and evening dress ensemble with tie-halter and bow bodice. I love the sorbet colours, graphics and over-the-top drama of this pattern.

Vogue 2313 by Yves Saint Laurent (1979). Evening dress and coat. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

6. Vogue 2375 – Gianni Versace, 1980. Not a true jumpsuit as I thought (thanks, Dustin!) but a halter neck top and pants with tapered legs, side draping and matching jacket. Check out the illustration’s matching sandals and tone-on-tone, contrast satin cummerbund.

Vogue 2375 by Gianni Versace (1980) Jacket, top, and pants. Image via eBay.

7. Vogue 1014 – Yves Saint Laurent, circa 1982. My notes say this is a top and pleated harem pants but, as the photo shows, it definitely has a jumpsuit effect when made in a single fabric and worn with the top tucked in. It’s interesting to see cuffed and pleated harem pants in the wake of the recent draped harem pants trend. Are we having a disco moment?

Vogue 1014 by Yves Saint Laurent (c. 1982). Top and harem pants. Image via eBay.

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