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).

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?

Maud Adams

September 11, 2012 § 4 Comments

Maud Adams and Roger Moore - Octopussy poster detail

How many pattern models can say they’ve been a Bond girl? Since the Toronto International Film Festival is underway, this instalment in my models series focuses on Swedish model-turned-actor Maud Adams, whose film credits include The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Rollerball (1975), and Octopussy (1983). (To see the other series posts, click the ‘models’ tag below.)

Before getting into film acting in the 1970s, former Miss Sweden Maud Adams (née Wikström, b. 1945), worked as a model in Paris and New York for publications including Vogue, McCall’s, and Vogue Patterns. McCall’s 1044 sees her modelling a check suit by Laird-Knox:

Maud Adams models a Sixties suit pattern by Laird-Knox, McCall's 1044

McCall’s 1044 by Laird-Knox (1968) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Maud Adams appears on many Vogue designer patterns of the later ’60s, such as this one for a dress by Patou:

Maud Adams models on the cover of Vogue 1809 by Patou

Vogue 1809 by Patou (1967) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Here she wears a dress and matching scarf by James Galanos:

Maud Adams models Vogue 2004 by James Galanos

Vogue 2004 by James Galanos (1968) Image via Stitches and Loops.

And here Adams models the maxi version of Vogue 1847, a fabulous halter dress by Pierre Cardin:

Maud Adams modelling a 1960s Pierre Cardin maxi dress pattern, Vogue 1847

Vogue 1847 by Pierre Cardin (1967) Image via Etsy.

Maud Adams also appears on several late Sixties covers of Vogue Pattern Book. Here’s a selection:

Maud Adams on the cover of Vogue Pattern Book, Aug/Sept 1967

Vogue Pattern Book, August/September 1967. Image via eBay.

Maud Adams on the cover of Vogue Pattern Book, Feb/Mar 1968

Vogue Pattern Book, February/March 1968. Image via eBay.

Maud Adams on the cover of Vogue Pattern Book, August/September 1968

Vogue Pattern Book, August/September 1968. Image via flickr.

Gaultique

October 3, 2011 § 9 Comments

On the set of Peter Greenaway's "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover" (1989). Costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier. Corbis image © Byron Newman.

Late last month I had the opportunity to visit “La Planète mode de Jean Paul Gaultier. De la rue aux étoiles / The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal. (Overheard in the “À fleur de peau/Skin Deep” room: a father telling the small boy on his shoulders, “Le créateur aimait faire des robes avec des seins pointus.”) The show wrapped up in Montreal yesterday but will be on tour in the U.S., Spain and the Netherlands in the coming months. (See the international tour schedule here.) If you missed the show, Susan Orlean’s article in the New Yorker captures the mood of celebration surrounding the exhibit.

I’m not aware of any Jean Paul Gaultier sewing patterns, but two of the houses where Gaultier worked as assistant designer before starting his own fashion business—Pierre Cardin and Jean Patou—had licensing agreements with Vogue Patterns. On his eighteenth birthday, April 24, 1970, Jean Paul Gaultier was hired as assistant designer at Pierre Cardin. The following year, after a brief stint at Jacques Esterel, Gaultier began work as assistant designer at the house of Jean Patou. In 1974 he returned to Pierre Cardin, working at the house’s Manila studio before launching his own label in 1976.

In honour of Jean Paul Gaultier, I thought I’d feature a few early seventies patterns from Cardin and Patou from around the time Gaultier was working as assistant designer at each house. (I may have overlooked some patterns—currently the early ’70s don’t seem to be very well represented in the Vintage Patterns Wiki.) I’ve tried to factor in the time lag between runway presentation and the appearance of a licensed Vogue design, but I should stress that my choices represent a rough guess.

First, two Cardin patterns from 1971. Vogue 2405 is a long-sleeved or sleeveless dress with loop streamers. The three streamers extend from the right side of the high waist and re-join the garment at the hemline:

Vogue 2405 by Pierre Cardin 1970s dress with flower and streamers designer pattern

Vogue 2405 by Pierre Cardin (1971) Dress. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Vogue 2520 is a Pierre Cardin bridal gown: a long-sleeved, A-line wedding dress with high Empire waist and train-like back panel. The April/May 1971 issue of Vogue Pattern Book shows the dress made up in a silk knit. Isn’t it lovely?

Vogue 2520 Pierre Cardin 1970s wedding dress designer bridal gown pattern

Vogue 2520 by Pierre Cardin (1971) Wedding dress. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The most fabulous mid-seventies Jean Patou pattern I’ve seen is actually a loungewear design. Vogue 1344, modelled by Billie Blair, is an evening-length dress with a boat neck, blouson bodice, dolman sleeves, side slit, and a contrast sash with streamers:

Vogue 1344 Patou Billie Blair 1970s maxi lounging dress 1970s pattern

Vogue 1344 by Jean Patou (1975) Maxi dress. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Unless I’m mistaken, Vogue 1344 is the rightmost dress in this Vogue Patterns editorial photo:

Designer evening wear Karen Bjornson Billie Blair Vogue Patterns November December 1975

Vogue Patterns, November/December 1975. Image via eBay.

(Update: for a clearer image see Miss Dandy’s tumblr blog—the contrast sash is sequinned.)

The pattern envelope calls the dress “Misses’ loungewear.” Since the house of Patou was exclusively a couture house, this must be an example of couture loungewear! Maybe it’s because I just saw the Montreal exhibit, but Vogue 1344 and Vogue 2405 remind me of a design in the show’s first room, a couture dress from Gaultier’s Spring 2007 couture collection. (See a photo of the mannequin on The Sewing Divas blog here.) The dress plays with the idea of streamers, integrating them into the skirt and also the motif of the bleeding heart:

Bleeding Heart evening gown Jean Paul Gaultier haute couture Spring 2007

Bleeding heart dress, Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Spring 2007. Model: Querelle Jansen. Photo: Marcio Madeira via Vogue.co.uk.

Catherine Deneuve wore a black version to the 2007 Academy Awards:

Catherine Deneuve black bleeding heart dress Gaultier Couture 79th Academy Awards 2007

Catherine Deneuve in Gaultier Couture at the 79th Academy Awards, 2007. Photo via Style.com.

Gaultier himself designs through sketches, then collaborates with his atelier staff to develop the final design. In an interview with the curator of the Montreal exhibit, Gaultier discusses his formative technical training at Cardin and Patou. He says he “definitely had my rite of passage at Patou” and was still developing his technique during his second position at Cardin, when he made clothes for the notorious Imelda Marcos:

“When I worked for Cardin in the Philippines, I was always learning, because I really didn’t have any technique at that point. I dressed Imelda Marcos, making her clothes under the Cardin name that didn’t hold up or have the right proportions, but she wore them all the same!”

—from Thierry-Maxime Loriot, “The Rise of a Couturier,” in The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier (catalogue excerpt downloadable here).

Mad Men Era 2: The Old Guard II

September 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

Joan Holloway black dress Christina Hendricks Mad Men Season 1 Long Weekend

Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) in "Long Weekend" (Mad Men, Season 1). Image via AMC.

This week my series on Mad Men-era designer patterns continues with four designers who established their labels between the early 1940s and 1950: Jacques Griffe, Pauline Trigère, Pierre Balmain, and Pierre Cardin.

Jacques Griffe (1917-1974)

Jacques Griffe was born in the medieval city of Carcassonne, France. After two apprenticeships, first with a tailor and then with a local dressmaker, he worked as a cutter for Vionnet until the house’s closure in 1939. Griffe established his own house in 1942. During the later 1940s he also worked as assistant to Molyneux and moved into Molyneux’s salon after the couturier’s 1950 retirement. Griffe himself retired in 1968. As may be expected from a designer who worked with Vionnet, Griffe was known for the cut and drape of his garments.

Vogue 1264 is a pattern for a dress and matching coat. (Click here to see back views.) The slim dress, which buttons at the left shoulder, has front princess seams and concealed pockets; an optional half belt ties at the back. The coat with cowl back and seven-eighths sleeves is the ensemble’s centrepiece. The cowl is created by an applied shoulder yoke that ties in front like a scarf:

Vogue 1264 Jacques Griffe 1960s coat dress back cowl Vogue pattern

Vogue 1264 by Jacques Griffe (1963) Coat and dress. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Pauline Trigère (1908-2002)

Pauline Trigère is unique among this week’s designers in that, despite being Parisian by birth, she established an American label rather than a French couture house. Born in Pigalle to Russian-Jewish parents—a dressmaker and tailor in whose shop she worked as a child—Trigère worked as a cutter at Martial et Armand before emigrating to New York City in 1937. She founded her own label in 1943. Like Vionnet before her, Trigère designed using the draping method. According to her New York Times obituary, she was the first designer to use an African-American model, in 1961. Trigère stayed with McCall’s through the 1960s when most of McCall’s designers were moving their licensing agreements to Vogue Patterns. She continued to design clothing collections until 1994. If you’ve seen “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961) you’ve seen some of Pauline Trigère’s work: Patricia Neal‘s character was dressed entirely in Trigère designs.

McCall’s 6599, an evening dress with side drape and ribbon belt, dates to 1962. I have this one in my collection. There are grander ’60s Trigère patterns, but I find McCall’s 6599 epitomizes the elegant simplicity for which the designer was famous. The bodice has French darts, and the side drape (which may be faced with contrast fabric) is sewn to the dress front, with an opening at the waist for the ribbon belt:

Pauline Trigère pattern McCalls 6599 1960s evening dress

McCall's 6599 by Pauline Trigère (1962) Evening dress

Balmain (1914-1982)

Pierre Balmain spent a year studying architecture before beginning his fashion career at the houses of Robert Piguet and Molyneux in the 1930s. Before and during the Second World War he worked at the house of Lucien Lelong, where Christian Dior was a fellow employee. Pierre Balmain established the house of Balmain in 1945, and soon became one of the most successful designers of the New Look. He remained chief designer for the house until his death in the early 1980s. Balmain’s architectural training shows in his emphasis on simplicity, form, and perfect construction.

Vogue 1340, modelled by Maggie Eckhardt, is another short evening dress. The dart-fitted dress has cap sleeves, a straight front neckline that dips into a low cowl back, and a curved belt at the raised waist. I love how the belt, cowl and front neckline create a series of curves that undulate around the body:

Vogue 1340 1960s evening dress Pierre Balmain Vogue pattern

Vogue 1340 by Pierre Balmain (1964) Evening dress. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Pierre Cardin (1922-)

Born in Venice as Pietro Cardini, Pierre Cardin is well-known as a brilliant businessman as well as a fashion innovator. Like Balmain, he studied architecture briefly before turning to a career in fashion. He worked at a number of major houses including Paquin, Schiaparelli, and Dior, where he was head of the tailoring (coat and suit) atelier. The house of Pierre Cardin was established in 1950. Cardin moved his pattern licensing from McCall’s to Vogue in the early 1960s. (See my earlier post for an image of a Cardin/McCall’s pattern from 1960.) Even before his 1964 Space Age or ‘Cosmocorps’ collection, which presented the futuristic sixties look most associated with Cardin today, he was known for his architectural, sculpted garments.

Vogue 1278 is a perfect little skirt suit. The slim skirt falls just below the knee, and the belted jacket has three-quarter sleeves and a link-button closure below the broad, pointed collar. The photograph shows the suit made up in what looks like a stiff, textured wool that accentuates the jacket’s forms:

Vogue 1278 Pierre Cardin 1960s Vogue pattern skirt suit jacket

Vogue 1278 by Pierre Cardin (c. 1963) Skirt suit. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

(Where is Givenchy, you ask? In the early 1960s Hubert de Givenchy seems to have taken a break from pattern licensing. I have seen only one early ’60s Givenchy pattern, and Givenchy’s last set of patterns for McCall’s—four designs for Audrey Hepburn in “How to Steal a Million” (1966)—falls outside our period. You can see Fuzzylizzie’s post on the 1966 patterns here.)

Although I’m organizing designers strictly by the date each founded his or her business, this week’s designers happen to fall into two camps: the first two are drapers (both of whom worked as cutters for venerable Paris couture houses), and the last two are former architecture students. It’s interesting to see evidence of their training in their designs.

Next: London’s Old Guard: Ronald Paterson, John Cavanagh, Michael, and Molyneux.

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