Donna Karan: Vogue Patterns

November 28, 2014 § 9 Comments

Donna Karan Fall 2014 runway presentation. Image via the New York Times.

With her Fall 2014 collection, Donna Karan celebrated the 30th anniversary of her label. To mark this milestone, here’s a look at the earliest Donna Karan sewing patterns.

Donna Karan (b. 1948) was born Donna Faske in Queens, New York to parents in the fashion industry. She attended Parsons School of Design before beginning her career at Anne Klein. In 1984, after over fifteen years at Anne Klein, Karan left to launch her own label. Her first collection, Seven Easy Pieces, explored the concept of layering mix-and-match pieces over a ‘body’ (a snap-crotch bodysuit) and laid the foundation for her brand. (See a New York Times timeline here.)

Models in bodysuits from Donna Karan's Fall 1985 collection

Models in bodysuits from Donna Karan’s Fall 1985 collection. Image via WWD.

Vogue Patterns’ licensing began two years after Seven Easy Pieces. Karan was introduced to readers in the September/October 1987 (or Autumn 1987) issue of Vogue Patterns magazine:

Vogue 1960 by Donna Karan on the cover of Vogue Patterns magazine, Autumn 1987

Vogue Patterns magazine, Autumn 1987. Image via eBay.

In an editorial photographed by Benoit Malphettes, Suzanne Lanza models the four new patterns for a Donna Karan wardrobe. The designs were from the current, Fall/Winter 1987-88 collection (see Bernadine Morris, “Beene and Karan Redefine Today’s Luxury” or watch a runway video on YouTube):

Donna Karan Vogue Patterns SeptOct 1987

Donna Karan feature with Vogue 1958. Vogue Patterns, September/October 1987. Photos: Lynn Kohlman and Benoit Malphettes. Model: Suzanne Lanza.

Donna Karan Vogue Patterns SeptOct 1987b

Vogue 1961 and 1962 by Donna Karan. Vogue Patterns, September/October 1987. Photos: Benoit Malphettes. Model: Suzanne Lanza.

DonnaKaran VoguePatternsSeptOct1987c

Vogue 1960, 1961, and 1962 by Donna Karan. Vogue Patterns, September/October 1987. Photos: Benoit Malphettes. Model: Suzanne Lanza.

(Scans via Top Models of the World.)

Vogue 1958 is a bias coat and draped, long-sleeved dress:

1980s Donna Karan dress and coat pattern - Vogue 1958

Vogue 1958 by Donna Karan (1987) Image via Etsy.

Vogue 1958 schematic

Technical drawing for Vogue 1958. Image via Etsy.

Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Coat & Dress. Very loose-fitting, unlined, A-Line, bias coat, above mid-knee, has front extending into standing back neckline and long sleeves. No Provision for Above-Waist Adjustment. Tapered dress, above mid-knee, has draped neckline extending into collar and long sleeves, shoulder pads, front pleated and gathered waist, side front pockets, front zipper (skirt), underarm gusset and elasticized back waist (no seam).

A black, wool knit version of the Vogue 1958 dress is in the collection of the Museum at FIT, where it was featured in the 2008 exhibition Arbiters of Style: Women at the Forefront of Fashion:

1980s dresses from Rei Kawakubo and Donna Karan - Arbiters of Style exhibit

Ensembles by Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons (1983) and Donna Karan (1987) in Arbiters of Style: Women at the Forefront of Fashion. Image via the Museum at FIT.

Vogue 1960 is a double-breasted jacket with elasticized back detail. The design was also featured on the fall magazine cover shown above:

1980s Donna Karan jacket pattern - Vogue 1960

Vogue 1960 by Donna Karan (1987) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Vogue 1960 schematic

Technical drawing for Vogue 1960. Image via Etsy.

The envelope description reads: Misses’ Jacket. Loose-fitting, lined, below hip, double-breasted jacket has notched collar, shoulder pads, welt and buttonhole pockets, side back seams, elasticized, side back-button tab and long, two-piece sleeves with button vent. Purchased top.

Vogue 1961 may look like a set of tops, but it’s really two tops—one bias, the other for stretch knits—and a bodysuit:

Vogue 1961 (1987)

Vogue 1961 by Donna Karan (1987) Image via Etsy.

Vogue 1961 schematic. Image via eBay.

Technical drawing for Vogue 1961. Image via eBay.

Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Top and Bodysuit. Loose fitting top has long sleeves. A: wrap, bias, draped front extends to tucked back collar, attached to tie ends. B: mock front wrap, shoulder pads, tucked front extends into single layer tie ends (wrong side may show) and back zipper. Bodysuit has notched collar, dropped shoulders, shoulder pads, mock front band, yoke with forward shoulder seams, very loose fitting blouson bodice, back pleat, elastic (seamed) waist, and lower edge, snap crotch closing and long sleeves with placket, pleats and button cuffs. Purchased trim.

Vogue 1962 provides the bottoms shown on Vogue 1961: a high-waisted skirt and softly pleated skirt or pants:

Vogue 1962 (1987)

Vogue 1962 by Donna Karan (1987) Image via Etsy.

Vogue 1962 schematic

Technical drawing for Vogue 1962. Image via Etsy.

The envelope description reads: Misses’ Skirt, Pants & Stole. Straight or tapered skirt (no side seams), above mid-knee or tapered pants have back zipper. No provision for shortening or lengthening for skirt B. A: bias front, no waistband, and side back seams. B: lined. Skirt B, Pants: front pleats, partially elasticized waistband and pockets. Single layer stole has narrow hem. Purchased top.

Just for fun, here’s a Patrick Demarchelier editorial photo of Paulina Porizkova in an ensemble from the Fall 1987 collection:

Paulina Porizkova in Donna Karan, British Vogue, September 1987. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier. Image via Magdorable!

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