September 24, 2015 § 3 Comments
Last week, Zandra Rhodes returned to London Fashion Week for her Spring 2016 collection. Famous for her colourful, hand-drawn prints, the bohemian cult favourite is also new to Vogue Patterns for Winter/Holiday 2015: Vogue 1472 is the first new Zandra Rhodes sewing pattern in thirty years. For knitters, the current issue of Rowan Knitting & Crochet has a Zandra Rhodes jacket pattern available as a free download.
Born in Chatham, Kent, Zandra Rhodes (b. 1940) trained as a textile designer at Medway College of Art, where her mother was a lecturer, and London’s Royal College of Art. Rhodes founded her own label in order to build garments around her prints. Her first, 1969 collection, Knitted Circle, was famously worn by Natalie Wood in Vogue magazine; the evening coat is now in the collection of the V&A:
Rhodes became known as the Princess of Punk following her Spring 1977 torn and safety-pinned Conceptual Chic collection, which was partly inspired by Schiaparelli’s Tears dress.
By the 1980s Rhodes was designing for Princess Diana. The princess wore this pink chiffon dress, embellished with crystal beads and pearl droplets, during her 1986 state visit to Japan (now in the collection of Historic Royal Palaces):
In 1985, Style Patterns released a handful of Zandra Rhodes sewing patterns. Rhodes was among the first designers to be included in the company’s short-lived designer line. (See my earlier posts on Bruce Oldfield and Frederick Fox.)
Style 4399 is a pattern for a wedding or evening dress in two lengths with characteristic serated frill:
Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Lined Wedding Dress or Evening Dress in Two Lengths — Dress has shoulder yoke with serrated frill and pointed cape effect on bodice. Skirt has elasticated waistline. Model 1 bead trim is used on yoke and neck tie. Suggested fabrics: Lightweight silk types, crepe de chine, chiffon, shantung, lace, voile, batiste, organza. Lining: Jap silk, crepe de chine. Trim: wide ribbon and pearl beading or narrow ribbon.
Style 4400 is an off-the-shoulder wedding or bridesmaid’s dress with separate petticoat:
The envelope description reads: Misses’ Half-Lined Wedding Dress or Bridesmaid’s Dress and Petticoat — Dress has flounced bodice with elasticated waist. Skirt has layered net frills, with gathered net and ribbon trim. Bride and bridesmaid’s dress has petticoat in fabric and net. Suggested fabrics: Dress, Models 1 and 2: Organza, voile, silk or synthetic sheers, lightweight lace. Lining: silk types, taffeta, satin (nap irrelevant). Net or tulle: silk, nylon. Trim: wide ribbon, sequin trim, narrow ribbon.
The third dress design, Style 4400, has a low back décolletage and multi-tiered skirt:
You can see the same pattern with updated envelope here.
Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Dress in Two Lengths — Dress has fitted bodice with elasticated waistline. Models 1 and 3 have bodice frill to waistline. Model 2 has shorter bodice frill. Models 1 and 2 have four-tiered skirt flounce. Model 3 has three-tiered skirt flounce. Suggested fabrics: Chiffon, georgette, voile, silk or synthetic sheers, organza. Also: lightweight lining fabric. Trim: wide ribbon; pearl trim (views 1 and 2).
The designs seem to be from Rhodes’ Spring 1985 collection, Images of Woman:
The trim and fabric specifications are catalogues of girliness: lightweight, floaty fabrics to be trimmed with the ribbon, sequins, and pearls. I love how Style 4495 suggests lining fabric as an alternative—perhaps with a budget-conscious youth market in mind.
For more on Zandra Rhodes, see the V&A’s article.
June 4, 2015 § 1 Comment
Now that wedding season is upon us, I wanted to share this bridal-themed ad for Vogue Patterns from spring, 1957. The pattern is a Vogue Special Design, Vogue S-4765 (click to enlarge):
The company had a series of these ads, each showing the model bursting out of a bunch of printed and perforated pattern pieces. (Vogue patterns were unprinted until the mid-1950s.) I love how the slogan, “The smartest move you can make,” blurs the distinction between a life decision such as marriage and the choice of pattern brand.
June 17, 2014 § 7 Comments
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.)
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.)
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:
Style 1072 is a pattern for a set of hats, including a beret, a turban, and a turban headband:
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:
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):
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.
June 12, 2013 § 6 Comments
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.
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:
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:
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:
A reproduction version of this pattern for a bridal gown or afternoon dress is available from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library:
A copy of McCall 8331 recently seen on eBay was accompanied by this wedding portrait, which shows the dress made up:
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:
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):
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:
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:
Also by John Cavanagh, this 1960s bridal design with a cathedral-length Watteau train was modelled by Jean Shrimpton:
No bridal pattern survey could be complete without this Halston pattern for bridal headpieces:
From the early 1970s, this Pierre Cardin bridal gown, shown in a silk knit, has an optional overskirt with handkerchief train:
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):
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):
Perfect for steampunk weddings, Vogue 2180 by Bellville Sassoon has an elaborate bustle that gives it a neo-Victorian flair:
June 4, 2013 § 3 Comments
Last night Vera Wang was honoured with the CFDA’s Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award. (Read style.com’s article here; Voguepedia bio here. Watch the awards ceremony here.) Wang, 63, has built a retail empire that began with the bridal boutique she founded in New York in 1990.
Thanks to Vogue Patterns, you don’t have to be Blair Waldorf to wear a custom Vera Wang dress. Vogue Patterns licensed Vera Wang dress patterns from the mid-1990s into the 21st century. The company introduced Vera Wang in the May/June 1995 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine. The cover shows Vogue 1584, a Vera Wang design:
Another Vera Wang design, Vogue 1583, made the cover of the June counter catalogue:
The first series of Vera Wang patterns consisted of three patterns, only one of which was officially a bridal design. (By 1993 Wang had branched out into formal wear.) The bridal pattern consists of a long-sleeved dress and overskirt in two lengths; the two-way stretch “illusion” fabric used for upper bodice and sleeves makes the dress an alternative to strapless bridal designs:
The other two patterns are sleeveless, high-collared cocktail or evening dresses with mesh details. The first has a contrast back and collar, while the second has contrast yokes and armhole binding:
Back interest is a theme running through Vogue’s Vera Wang patterns. This formal dress has a mesh back criss-crossed by broad straps:
The elegant Vogue 1944 features a bias back drape:
This bridal gown may be made with a back pleat or an attached, ruffled petticoat that spills out through the skirt’s back:
These two dresses, one with a stretch knit contrast bodice, the other with spaghetti straps and peekaboo back, are classic minimalist ’90s formal wear:
June 4, 2012 § 6 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 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:
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.
October 11, 2011 § 4 Comments
This week my series on designers of the Mad Men era continues with four couturiers associated with London: Ronald Paterson, John Cavanagh, Michael Donéllan, and Edward Molyneux. The first three, as heads of London couture houses in the postwar period, had their licensed designs released through Vogue’s Couturier line. (These designers aren’t all that well documented online; a useful print source is Amy de la Haye, ed., The Cutting Edge: 50 Years of British Fashion 1947-1997.)
Ronald Paterson (1917-1993)
Born in Scotland, Ronald Paterson moved to London in 1936 to attend the Picadilly Institute of Design. After winning a fashion design contest judged by Elsa Schiaparelli, he worked briefly at a London couture house until the beginning of the Second World War. Paterson established his own house in London in 1947. Following its 1968 closure the designer turned to costume work for films including the Bond movie “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977). Paterson was known for his tweeds and tailoring.
Vogue 1302, modelled by Jean Shrimpton, is an example of one of my favourite types of early sixties ensembles: the suit consisting of a dress and matching jacket. The sleeveless dress has a bodice that’s gathered into the dropped back waistline, and the short jacket has a fabulous funnel neck, cuffed sleeves and the option for self bow trim at the waist:
John Cavanagh (1914-2003)
The Irish-born John Cavanagh trained with Molyneux in London and Paris from 1932 to 1940. Starting in 1947 he worked as design assistant at Balmain until he established his own house in 1952. Cavanagh had an early success in his 1953 ‘Coronation’ collection, and his royal commissions included the Duchess of Kent’s wedding dress in 1961. (See photos and video of the Duke and Duchess of Kent’s wedding here.) In 1966 he shifted his focus from couture to ready-to-wear, and the house closed in 1974. Cavanagh was esteemed for his classic tailoring and evening wear.
Vogue 1347, another design modelled by Jean Shrimpton, is a wedding dress with optional cathedral-length train. The dress has a raised waist, wide three-quarter sleeves, and a rolled, stand-up collar. I love the extravagance of the Watteau train, and how the rolled cuffs match the collar:
Michael Donéllan (1917-1985)
Another Irish-born designer, Michael Donéllan is called Michael of England and, later, Michael of London on Vogue patterns. From the 1940s he was head designer at the venerable London house of Lachasse before establishing his own couture house, Michael of Carlos Place, in 1953. (Carlos Place was also home to the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers.) From 1961 Mr. Donéllan also worked as a design consultant for Marks & Spencer. The house closed in 1971. Michael Donéllan was called the Balenciaga of London for his elegant, uncluttered tailoring.
Vogue 1437 is an evening ensemble consisting of a short, bias evening dress and matching jacket with three-quarter sleeves and welt pockets. I like to think the hat serves to advertise the design’s Britishness:
Although Edward Molyneux is today’s most senior designer, I’ve left him to last because the house closed during the postwar period and didn’t reopen until the mid-1960s. The London-born Molyneux worked as a sketcher at Lucile from 1911 until the outbreak of the First World War. During his military service he lost an eye, and in 1917 he was made Captain, so you’ll sometimes see him referred to as Captain Molyneux. He established the house of Molyneux in Paris in 1919, moving his business to London during the Second World War. The house closed in 1950, with the Paris studio passing to Jacques Griffe; however, in 1964 Molyneux announced the relaunch of his label, presenting his first collection in early 1965. (For more on Molyneux’s comeback see Worn Through‘s recent post.) The designer retired a couple years later, leaving the business in the hands of his nephew. Molyneux’s work is famous for its spare, modern lines and understated luxury.
Vogue 1502, modelled by Simone D’Aillencourt, is a day dress with a contrasting ascot that’s framed by the shaped, stand-up collar. (Click on the image to see the technical drawing.) The design also features contrast trim inside the neck and sleeves (barely visible in the photo):
The London College of Fashion has some pictures of Molyneux’s later work online, including this photo of the Vogue 1502 design:
It may be a truism to say that tailoring and evening wear are British strengths, designed for aristocratic social life, but Vogue’s selections do look perfect for the Season’s requirements…