Zandra Rhodes: Style Patterns

September 24, 2015 § 3 Comments

Zandra Rhodesand Rembrandt's Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet, 2014

Zandra Rhodes and Rembrandt’s portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet, 2014. Image via the National Gallery.

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. (Update: read a profile in Vogue Patterns magazine.) For knitters, the current issue of Rowan Knitting & Crochet has a Zandra Rhodes jacket pattern available as a free download.

Zandra Rhodes sketch with yarn charts and sample garment - Rowan 58 (Winter 2015)

Zandra Rhodes sketch with yarn charts and sample garment in Katy Bevan, “Dame Zandra’s Knitting Circle” in Rowan Knitting & Crochet 58 (Winter 2015). Image via Rowan.

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:

Natalie Wood wears a screen-printed felt evening coat and silk chiffon dress, both by Zandra Rhodes. Vogue, January 1970. Photo: Gianni Penati. Image via Youthquakers.

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.

Wedding dress and dress from Zandra Rhodes' Spring 1977 collection

A wedding dress and dress from Zandra Rhodes’ Spring 1977 collection at the PUNK: Chaos to Couture exhibit, 2014. Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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):

Zandra Rhodes sketch for Princes Diana. Image via SDNews.

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:

1980s Zandra Rhodes formal dress pattern - Style 4399

Style 4399 by Zandra Rhodes (1985) Image via Etsy.

Style 4399 schematic

Back view for Style 4399 (1985)

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:

1980s Zandra Rhodes formal dress pattern - Style 4400

Style 4400 by Zandra Rhodes (1985)

Style 4400 schematic

Technical drawing for Style 4400 (1985)

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:

1980s Zandra Rhodes dress pattern - Style 4495

Style 4495 by Zandra Rhodes (1985)

Style 4495 schematic

Technical drawing for Style 4495 (1985)

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:

Zandra Rhodes SS1985 a

Zandra Rhodes Spring/Summer 1985 collection. Image via UCA Library.

Zandra Rhodes SS1985 b

Zandra Rhodes Spring/Summer 1985 collection. Image via UCA Library.

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.

The Smartest Move You Can Make

June 4, 2015 § 1 Comment

Vogue ad April 1957 detail

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):

1950s Vogue Patterns advertisement showing Vogue S-4765

The smartest move you can make… Vogue Printed and Perforated Patterns advertisement, April 1957.

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.

The Fantastic Mr Fox: Style Patterns by Frederick Fox

June 17, 2014 § 7 Comments

Queen Elizabeth II wears a Frederick Fox hat to the Silver Jubilee celebrations, 1977

Queen Elizabeth II wears a Frederick Fox hat with 25 “bells” to the Silver Jubilee celebrations, 1977. Photo: Douglas Kirkland. Image via Royal Hats.

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.)

Diana, Princess of Wales wears a 'flying saucer' hat by Frederick Fox during the Royal Tour of Italy, 1985

Diana, Princess of Wales wears a ‘flying saucer’ hat by Frederick Fox during the Royal Tour of Italy, 1985. Photo: Tim Graham/AP. Image via People.

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.)

Edwina Carroll in Kubrick's 2001 wearing a Frederick Fox crash helmet

Edwina Carroll as a PanAm space stewardess in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Costume by Hardy Amies; crash helmet by Frederick Fox. Image via eBay.

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:

1980s Frederick Fox bridal veils and headpieces pattern - Style 4788

Style 4788 by Frederick Fox (1986) Bridal head-dresses and veils.

Style 1072 is a pattern for a set of hats, including a beret, a turban, and a turban headband:

1980s Frederick Fox hat pattern - Style 1072

Style 1072 by Frederick Fox (c. 1986) Image via eBay.

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:

1980s Frederick Fox hair ornament pattern - Style 1157

Style 1157 by Frederick Fox (1987) Hair ornaments.

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):

1980s Frederick Fox bridal hats pattern - Style 1249

Style 1249 by Frederick Fox (1987) Bridal hats.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).

Vera Wang: Vogue Patterns

June 4, 2013 § 3 Comments

Vera Wang with Ralph Lauren at the CFDA Awards

Vera Wang with Ralph Lauren at the CFDA Awards, June 3, 2013.

Last night Vera Wang was honoured with the CFDA’s Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award. (Read’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:

Vogue Patterns May/June 1995

Vogue Patterns magazine, May/June 1995. Image via eBay.

Another Vera Wang design, Vogue 1583, made the cover of the June counter catalogue:

Vogue 1583, a Vera Wang dress pattern, on the cover of the Vogue catalog, June 1995

Vogue Patterns catalogue, June 1995. Image via eBay.

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:

1990s Vera Wang bridal or cocktail dress pattern - Vogue 1583

Vogue 1583 by Vera Wang (1995) Image via Etsy.

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:

Vera Wang pattern - Vogue 1584

Vogue 1584 by Vera Wang (1995) Image via Etsy.

Vera Wang dress pattern - Vogue 1585

Vogue 1585 by Vera Wang (1995) Image via eBay.

Back interest is a theme running through Vogue’s Vera Wang patterns. This formal dress has a mesh back criss-crossed by broad straps:

Vera Wang cocktail or evening dress pattern - Vogue 1767

Vogue 1767 by Vera Wang (1996) Image via Etsy.

The elegant Vogue 1944 features a bias back drape:

Vera Wang cowl-back dress pattern - Vogue 1944

Vogue 1944 by Vera Wang (1997) Image via Etsy.

This bridal gown may be made with a back pleat or an attached, ruffled petticoat that spills out through the skirt’s back:

Vera Wang bridal gown pattern - Vogue 2118

Vogue 2118 by Vera Wang (1998) Image via Etsy.

These two dresses, one with a stretch knit contrast bodice, the other with spaghetti straps and peekaboo back, are classic minimalist ’90s formal wear:

Vera Wang cocktail or evening dress pattern - Vogue 2251

Vogue 2251 by Vera Wang (1999) Image via Etsy.

Vera Wang cocktail or evening dress pattern - Vogue 2257

Vogue 2257 by Vera Wang (1999) Image via Etsy.

Mad Men Era 7: Millinery

June 4, 2012 § 6 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.


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.

Mad Men Era 3: London’s Old Guard

October 11, 2011 § 4 Comments

English expats Lane and Rebecca Pryce (Jared Harris and Embeth Davidtz) in Mad Men, Season 3

Lane (Jared Harris) and Rebecca Pryce (Embeth Davidtz) in “Love Among the Ruins” (Mad Men, Season 3)

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:

1960s Ronald Paterson dress suit jacket pattern feat.  Jean Shrimpton Vogue 1302

Vogue 1302 by Ronald Paterson (1964) Dress and jacket. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

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:

1960s John Cavanagh wedding dress pattern - Vogue 1347

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

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:

1960s Michael of London (Michael Donéllan) evening suit pattern - Vogue 1437

Vogue 1437 by Michael of London (c. 1964) Evening dress and jacket. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Molyneux (1891-1974)

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):

1960s Molyneux dress pattern with ascot - Vogue 1502

Vogue 1502 by Molyneux (1965) Dress with ascot. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The London College of Fashion has some pictures of Molyneux’s later work online, including this photo of the Vogue 1502 design:

Edward Molyneux 1965 dress model photo Vogue 1502

Dress by Molyneux in navy wool crepe by Nattier, 1965. Image via VADS.

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…

Next: Old House, New Designer: Lanvin, Patou, Nina Ricci, and Dior.

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