April 24, 2014 § 2 Comments
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 (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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
April 14, 2014 § 1 Comment
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):
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.
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:
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:
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:
All three New York designers would later make the switch to Vogue Patterns: Blass in 1967, Beene and Klein in the 1970s.
December 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
I wanted to share this holiday-themed, Mad Men-era advertisement for Singer Slant-O-Matic sewing machines and Singer Sewing Centers:
Like the other ads in the series (see my earlier post here), the ad plays with scale while serving up some mid-century aspirational marketing. The copy promotes the Slant-O-Matic’s slanted needle and how it helps dressmakers sew special fabrics into submission.
The model is Sara Thom; her evening gown in grape and fuchsia taffeta is a McCall’s exclusive by Pauline Trigère, McCall’s 5588.
October 11, 2012 § 1 Comment
Speaking of aspirational marketing, I wanted to share this early ’60s, Mad Men-era ad for Singer’s Slant-O-Matic sewing machines and Singer Sewing Centers:
The ad shows a model (Dovima?) in full evening dress, complete with long gloves and glittering parure; she leans on a monumental Singer Slant-O-Matic sewing machine, a length of her gown’s green fabric rippling underneath.
According to the ad copy, zig-zag sewing is an exciting, time-saving innovation that helps you sew drapes, mend Johnny’s shirts, and choose complicated designer sewing patterns without a second thought. The eveningwear design is a Vogue Paris Original by Nina Ricci, Vogue 1499.
I love how the ad plays with scale while juxtaposing mid-century high glamour with the latest sewing technology. The other ads I’ve seen from this series promote formal sewing for the winter holidays, but this one is from the June/July Vogue Pattern Book.
June 4, 2012 § 3 Comments
This week, four milliners who licensed their designs with Vogue in the early Sixties: Sally Victor, John Frederics, Guy Laroche, and Halston.
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:
John-Frederics was founded in 1929 by partners John P. Harberger (1902-1993) and Frederic 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 Frederic 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:
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 was featured in the August/September 1961 issue of Vogue Pattern Book (second from the left):
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':
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.
May 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
This week, three newer designers who established their companies in the late 1950s and early 1960s: Guy Laroche, Irene Galitzine, and Federico Forquet.
Guy Laroche (1921-1989)
Guy Laroche worked as assistant to Jean Dessès for seven years before founding his own couture house in 1957. He had an early success with his ready-to-wear line, founded in 1961, helped by a brief stint in New York’s garment industry. Laroche was known for his accessible, youthful designs and use of colour.
Vogue 1102 is a slim, one-shouldered cocktail or evening dress with off-the-shoulder neckline and loose back panel. (Click image for back view.) The dress has a boned underbodice and looped self-trimming at the shoulder:
Irene Galitzine was a Russian-born princess whose mother had fled the Bolshevik Revolution with her and settled in Rome. A former model, she presented her first collection in 1959. Galitzine was famous for her ‘palazzo pajamas,’ evening ensembles featuring wide-legged pants; she also designed part of Claudia Cardinale’s wardrobe for her role as Princess Dala in The Pink Panther (1963). Amusingly, Claudia Cardinale is actually this blog’s top search (she’s mentioned briefly in my first Mad Men Era post). Here she wears a white Galitzine tunic and pants in the film’s first party scene:
At first glance, Vogue 1393 looks like a jumpsuit, but it’s really a chic halter blouse and culotte. The sleeveless blouse has a wrap-around construction and gathers into a high, standing band collar. The matching culotte has a gathered skirt that forms wide palazzo pants in the front:
Federico Forquet (1931-)
Federico Forquet was also born to a family of aristocratic emigrés: his ancestors had settled in Naples after fleeing the French Revolution. The young Forquet worked with Balenciaga, Fabiani, and Galitzine before opening his own studio in 1961. He was known for his elegant, sculptural cut. Forquet also designed the costumes for the early Bertolucci film “Prima della rivoluzione” (1964).
Vogue 1315 is a bow-trimmed sheath dress and jacket ensemble. The dress has a neckline that’s square in the back and scooped in the front with notched detail; contrast bow trim gives a high-waisted effect. The jacket has three-quarter kimono sleeves and a fabulous raised neckline curving up into points at the throat. It seems that, when worn together, the dress’ bow sits outside the jacket. The original was photographed at the Palazzo Annibale Scotti:
With the exception of Guy Laroche, these new designers were based in Rome, reflecting Italy’s burgeoning fashion industry, with its alternatives to the Paris couture, as well as the rise of ready-to-wear.
May 2, 2012 § 4 Comments
This week, four established European designers who were based in Spain and Italy: Rodriguez, Simonetta, Fabiani, and Pucci.
Born in Valencia, Pedro Rodríguez opened his first salon in Barcelona in 1918. During the Spanish Civil War he relocated to Paris, but returned to Spain when the war ended. Although little-known outside his country, he was Franco Spain’s most celebrated designer. Rodríguez’s drawings are the focus of an exhibition running until June 17th at Madrid’s Museo del Traje, “Pedro Rodríguez: Alta Costura sobre papel. Figurines de Pedro Rodríguez, 1940-1976.”
Vogue 1338 is a slim evening dress with a uniquely shaped bodice, high-waisted in front and dipping low in the back:
A member of the Italian aristocracy, Simonetta Colonna di Cesarò was born a duchesa and made her first marriage to a Visconti. She presented her first collection in 1946, in newly liberated Rome. During the early 1960s she and her second husband, Alberto Fabiani, combined their talents to form a Paris label, Simonetta et Fabiani. Simonetta was known for youthful, dramatic designs with an emphasis on form and cut.
Vogue 1231 is a glamorous yet simple design for a formal dress with attached circular cape. The asymmetrical fall of the cape gives it a neoclassical, military air:
Alberto Fabiani was born into a family of couturiers. He trained for a few years with an Italian tailor in Paris before returning to Italy, where he soon became head of the family couture house. As mentioned above, he formed a joint label with his second wife, Simonetta, before returning to his solo label. Fabiani was known for conservative, tailored designs with impeccable cut.
Vogue 1450 is a short evening dress with waistcoat detail and deep, slashed neckline revealing an underbodice. A narrow, self-corded belt ties in a bow at the raised front waistline, above a skirt shaped by soft pleats:
The designer we know as Pucci was born Marchese Emilio Pucci di Barsento, to the aristocratic Florentine family based at the Palazzo Pucci. He obtained a doctorate from the University of Florence and also served as a pilot in the Italian Air Force before opening his first boutique in Capri in 1949. Pucci was famous for his youthful sports and resort wear in distinctive, colourful prints and new fabrics like lightweight silk jersey.
Vogue 1351 is a chic casual ensemble consisting of a boxy jacket, simple blouse, and tapered pants with optional stirrups. The model was photographed in Florence rather than Rome:
I always find it interesting how the Vogue Couturier line drew attention to the designer’s nationality or the European city where they were based—Pucci of Italy, Rodríguez of Madrid—drawing attention to the not-Paris of emerging fashion centres in London and on the Continent. Although Rodríguez was somewhat isolated in Franco Spain, the Italian couturiers were designing for the international jet set.