Bellville Sassoon: Vogue Patterns

November 17, 2013 § 7 Comments

The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon, 20 September 2013 - 11 January 2014

Image via the Fashion and Textile Museum.

The current exhibition at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum, The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon, celebrates the museum’s 10th anniversary with a retrospective of the British fashion house. If you’re in the London area this week you can bring in your Bellville pieces, including versions sewn from Vogue Patterns, for evaluation by David Sassoon at the event “Bring out your Bellville.” (The exhibition runs until January 11th, 2014.)

Bellville Sassoon sketch

Bellville Sassoon sketch. Image via Vogue Italia.

Belinda Bellville founded her eponymous couture house in 1953, and recruited David Sassoon in 1958; the Bellville Sassoon name dates to 1970. Following Bellville’s retirement in the 1980s, Sassoon was joined by Lorcan Mullany as designer of the house’s ready-to-wear line. Vogue Patterns has been producing Bellville patterns since the late 1960s.

Bellville Sassoon evening gown sketches, 2003-4

Bellville Sassoon sketches, 2003-4. Image via Vogue Italia.

Bellville Sassoon is unusual for having no licensing apart from its long-running sewing patterns with Vogue. (See Libby Banks, “Loosening a Fashion Stiff Upper Lip.”) This has the effect of giving the patterns a special prominence. As Suzy Menkes observes, although Bellville Sassoon is perhaps best known for its society wedding gowns and association with the British royal family, the sewing patterns show the house’s “more democratic side.” (See Sinty Stemp, The Glamour of Bellville Sassoon [Antique Collectors’ Club, 2009], which devotes a chapter to Vogue Patterns.) Even the couture-focused exhibition Glamour and Gowns: Couture by Belinda Bellville and Bellville Sassoon, which ran through October, 2013 at Holkham Hall (the ancestral seat of Bellville’s son-in-law), included Bellville sewing patterns.

Here is a selection of Belinda Bellville and Bellville Sassoon sewing patterns from the Sixties to now.

1960s

From early 1967, this Bellville evening ensemble includes an elegant, bow-trimmed jacket and A-line gown with optional beaded trim:

1960s Belinda Bellville pattern - Vogue 1677

Vogue 1677 by Belinda Bellville (1967) Image via Etsy.

The bodice of this popular design for a short or long evening dress extends into a large bow in the slit back:

Late 1960s Belinda Bellville LBD pattern - Vogue 2112

Vogue 2112 by Belinda Bellville (1969) Image via Etsy.

1970s

This high-waisted evening dress with waistcoat bodice could be made short, or above the ankle:

1970s Belinda Bellville pattern - Vogue 2421

Vogue 2421 by Belinda Bellville (1970) Image via eBay.

The back wrap on this bias dress creates a cowl neckline that becomes a V in the back. The model is Rosie Vela:

1970s Belinda Bellville dress pattern - Vogue 1584

Vogue 1584 by Belinda Bellville (ca. 1977) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

1980s

This dramatic, one-shouldered cocktail or evening dress has a draped, asymmetrical bodice with big bows at the hip and shoulder:

1980s Bellville Sassoon formal dress pattern - Vogue 1635

Vogue 1635 by Bellville Sassoon (1985) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

The volume in this strapless, ruffled formal dress is amplified by an attached ruffled petticoat:

1980s Bellville Sassoon party dress pattern - Vogue 1936

Vogue 1936 by Bellville Sassoon (1987) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

1990s

A petticoat is also essential to this full-skirted, strapless party dress from the early 1990s. The bow detail at the bodice can be made in contrast fabric:

Early 1990s Bellville Sassoon party dress pattern - Vogue 2468

Vogue 2468 by Bellville Sassoon (1990) Image via Sew Exciting Needleworks.

This evening dress with bias-banded bodice was photographed at Los Angeles’ Biltmore Hotel for the May/June 1997 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine, which also included an article by Claire Shaeffer on couture techniques for constructing the design:

1990s Bellville Sassoon formal dress pattern - Vogue 1966

Vogue 1966 by Bellville Sassoon (1997) Image via Etsy.

2000s

Strong shoulders are achieved through extravagant sleeve rosettes on this recent Bellville Sassoon cocktail dress, which also features a piped and ruffle-trimmed neckline:

Bellville Sassoon dress pattern - Vogue 1162

Vogue 1162 by Bellville Sassoon (2010) Image via Etsy.

Current Vogue patterns, like this dress with draped and pleated bodice, show the designer as Lorcan Mullany for Bellville Sassoon:

Vogue 1362 by Lorcan Mullany for Bellville Sassoon (2013)

Vogue 1362 by Lorcan Mullany for Bellville Sassoon (2013) Image via Etsy.

As a teenager in the ’90s, one of the first things I made was a Bellville Sassoon corset top (from Vogue 1605). Have you sewn any Bellville patterns?

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§ 7 Responses to Bellville Sassoon: Vogue Patterns

  • Cassandra Phillips says:

    Vogue 2799 – my wedding dress – made of lace at the top which I bought in Cannes France, and ice pink satin from Switzerland that I bought from Maryan’s Fabrics in Toronto – absolutely stunning! Cassandra, vintagecassandra

  • I have Vogue 1605 – I bought it in the early 90s in a store going out of business. I’ve never sewn the corset yet, but someday I will.
    Great article on these vintage patterns!

  • E. Frantz says:

    Very informative post… More big-name models here! 1584 from 1977 is Rosie Vela, who had dozens of vogue covers during the mid-late 1970s, into the early ’80s. 1635 is the catwalk queen Anna Bayle, who was on every major runway in the ’80s, (and who rarely did photo shoots so that is a real find!)

  • E. Frantz says:

    And I also know Claire Shaeffer quite well and she’s a lovely woman! I’ve visited her lovely abode in Palm Springs and seen her fabulous private vintage couture collection:)

  • Veronik says:

    I also made 1605 – for my wedding (in 1997), out of silver satin. I had to settle for polyester, as silk was out of our budget. I also made my husband’s shirt, a bridesmaid dress, 2 vests for the wedding party and two dresses for the flower girls. As well as a dress for my then six months old daughter – it sure seems like I had more time to sew before the internet came along…

  • Karen says:

    I have Vogue 2718 by Belinda Bellville, which I have not made yet. But I do have the fabric for it! I so love those early Vogue patterns from the 60s and 70s. Thanks for a great post!

  • […] This daffodil evening ensemble was featured in my Bellville Sassoon post: […]

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