April 29, 2014 § 5 Comments
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.)
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:
The suit seems to have made the cover of Vogue Patterns magazine:
Vogue 2078 is a tiered, off-the-shoulder dress for stretch knits:
More knit dresses from this collection can be seen in this photo by Oliviero Toscani, the photographer best known for his controversial Benetton ads:
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:
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:
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:
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:
The red version of the top can be seen in this campaign photo by Oliviero Toscani:
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:
The grey stripe version was featured in the Fall/Winter 1989 ad campaign:
Vogue 2556 is a button-studded ensemble consisting of jacket, skirt, and coat. The design requires forty-one buttons for the jacket alone:
The Vogue 2556 jacket and skirt were photographed for this Apollo Landing-themed campaign image:
A hot pink version, included in the Philadelphia exhibit, has a matching hat and cape, and rainbow buttons:
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.
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.