Battle On, Xena!

October 31, 2017 § 2 Comments

Lucy Lawless in "Return of Callisto," episode 5 of Xena: Warrior Princess, season 2, 1996

Lucy Lawless in Xena: Warrior Princess, 1996. Image: NBC Universal/Movie Pilot.

Before Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, there was Xena: Warrior Princess. The Hercules spinoff starring Lucy Lawless as a Thracian warrior became a cult hit, thanks partly to that iconic leather armour by Ngila Dickson.

Lucy Lawless' Xena: Warrior Princess costume at the Museum of New Zealand

Image: Museum of New Zealand.

Best known today for her work on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Dickson won a New Zealand Film and TV Award for Xena in 1998. The same year saw both an animated Hercules and Xena and official licensed costume patterns from Butterick. (Simplicity had done unofficial Xena patterns in 1997.)

The Butterick costumes call for synthetic leather for the dress and accessories, metallic cord and marker, and cotton Lycra to make your own undershorts. Chakram not included.

1990s official adult's Xena: Warrior Princess costume, Butterick 5726

Butterick 5725 (1998) Official adult’s Xena: Warrior Princess costume.

1990s official children's Xena: Warrior Princess costume, Butterick 5726

Butterick 5726 (1998) Official children’s Xena: Warrior Princess costume.

Happy Halloween!

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In memoriam: Hervé Léger

October 18, 2017 § 1 Comment

Hervé L. Leroux Resort 2017 photographed by Desiree Mattsson. Model: Alexandrina Turcan. Image: Desiree Mattsson.

Farewell to the great Hervé Léger. I wrote a brief tribute to the late designer for FASHION magazine.

To learn more about Léger’s work for Guy Laroche under the name Hervé L. Leroux, and the commercial patterns from his tenure, see my series.

Blade Runner, Fashion, and Sewing Patterns

October 6, 2017 § 4 Comments

Blade Runner-inspired Vogue Italia cover photographed by Steven Meisel, March 1998

Eugenia Silva wears Prada on the cover of Vogue Italia, March 1998. Photo: Steven Meisel. Editor: Bill Mullen. Image: The Fashion Spot.

Blade Runner 2049, Denis Villeneuve’s much-anticipated sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, opens today. Here’s a look at the fashion references and influence of the 1982 cult classic. (For Blade Runner’s influence on current fashion and an interview with costume designer Renée April, see Booth Moore, “‘Blade Runner 2049’ Already a Hit on the Fashion Runways.”)

Ryan Gosling in Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Image: Stephen Vaughan/Warner Bros.

Mugler Angel perfume ad, 2003

Thierry Mugler “Angel” fragrance advertisement, 2003. Image: eBay.

Blade Runner’s BAFTA-winning costume designers, Charles Knode and Michael Kaplan, cite 1940s film noir, with its iconic characters like Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade and Rita Hayworth’s Gilda, as their main inspiration. For the replicant Rachael, they also looked to the 1930s and ’40s tailoring of Hollywood costume designer-turned-couturier Adrian. (Kaplan is still in the genre-film spotlight with the new Star Wars trilogy, while the Adrian label—the subject of a recent exhibit—is being revived as Adrian Original.)

Rachael's fur coat and pieced suit - Blade Runner sketches by Michael Kaplan

Rachael costume sketches by Michael Kaplan for Blade Runner (1982). In Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design (Collins, 2007).

Kaplan used vintage fabrics for Rachael’s Adrian-inspired outfits: “I liked the idea of combining different shades of suiting fabrics to create patterns—something Adrian did. In this case I used amazing vintage suiting woollens in shades of grey and beige, with metallic threads that I was lucky enough to find, which created a subtle luminous quality.” (Source: AnOther mag.) This circa 1944 Butterick suit features Adrian-style piecing:

1940s colour-blocked suit pattern Retro Butterick 6286

Butterick 6286 from 1944 (2015)

In the 1980s, Claude Montana was the go-to designer for the decade’s updated triangular silhouette. (Ridley Scott has acknowledged the decade’s ’40s revival as an important factor in the film’s aesthetic.) This Vogue Individualist design plays up the ’40s influence:

1980s Claude Montana dress pattern - Vogue Individualist 1927

Vogue 1927 by Montana (1987)

In spring, 1997, Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut was one of the first movies to be released on DVD. The following spring, working with stylist Bill Mullen and set designer Jack Flanagan, Steven Meisel photographed a Blade Runner-homage cover and editorial for Vogue Italia’s March 1998 prêt-à-porter issue. Michael Kaplan recalls mistaking the cover for a film still. The editorial features text from Roy’s climactic monologue (“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…”) with clothes from Prada’s Spring 1998 collection, which paired natural materials with synthetics like latex and plexiglass.

Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion... Prada in Vogue Italia, March 1998

Prada Spring ’98 in Vogue Italia, March 1998. Photo: Steven Meisel. Editor: Bill Mullen. Image: Vogue Italia Archive.

Meanwhile, in Paris, Alexander McQueen referenced Blade Runner in his Fall/Winter 1998 ready-to-wear collection for Givenchy. Visionaire’s Alexander McQueen memorial issue includes an image from Steven Meisel’s fall advertising campaign. (For more on this collection, see my McQueen series post.)

Two looks from Alexander McQueen's for Givenchy Fall 1998 prêt-à-porter

Two looks from Alexander McQueen’s Fall 1998 prêt-à-porter collection for Givenchy. Images: firstVIEW, Corbis.

V2228 and V2248 on the runway - Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, Fall 1998 prêt-à-porter

V2228 and V2248 (under jacket) on the runway – Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, Fall 1998 prêt-à-porter. Images: Corbis.

Givenchy FW 1998 photographed by Steven Meisel in Visionaire 58: Spirit (2010)

Givenchy Fall 1998 by Alexander McQueen in Visionaire 58: Spirit (2010). Photo: Steven Meisel. Image: 1stdibs.

Sewists and Blade Runner devotees are fortunate to have two licensed patterns from this collection:

FW 1998 rtw fur-trimmed suit pattern by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, Vogue 2228

Vogue 2228 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy (1998) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

FW 1998 rtw cowl-neck dress by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, Vogue 2248

Vogue 2248 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy (1999) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

The sleeveless version of the dress seems to have been shown with a jacket on the runway. (Click the image to read about my version, which I wore to TIFF’s Cronenberg exhibit.)

In V2248 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy at BMC Labs / David Cronenberg: Evolution

In V2248 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy at David Cronenberg: Evolution, 2014.

Rachael’s chevron-quilted synthetic fur coat gets the most screen time, but it’s her blue brocade coat with standing fur collar that appears to have been McQueen’s main reference for the fur-trimmed coats and jackets. As the pattern reveals, the collar stands with the help of boning.

Rachael (Sean Young) in her quilted faux-fur coat in Blade Runner (1982)

Rachael (Sean Young) in her quilted faux-fur coat. Image: Vogue Italia.

Rachael's fur-trimmed blue brocade coat in Blade Runner (1982)

Rachael’s blue brocade coat. Images: Pinterest, Christies/BladeZone.

Charles Knode fur-trimmed coat sketches for Blade Runner

Charles Knode fur-trimmed coat sketches for Blade Runner. Image: BladeZone.

Blue leather coat with standing fur collar, Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, Fall 1998 rtw

Blue leather coat with standing fur collar, Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, Fall 1998 prêt-à-porter collection. Images: eBay.

(Wool version available here.)

The weathered tones and textures of Mayan Revival—prominently seen in Deckard’s apartment, as played by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House—form a thread linking the first film, Meisel’s Givenchy campaign, and Villeneuve’s sequel. It was Kaplan’s vision of a dirty retrofuture, rather than glossy futurism, that won him the Blade Runner gig. It will be interesting to see what role revivals play in the new film.

Rachael (Sean Young) visits Deckard's apartment in Blade Runner (1982)

Rachael (Sean Young) in Blade Runner (1982) Image: Restless Things.

Meisel campaign images for Alexander McQueen's Blade Runner collection for Givenchy, FW 1998

Givenchy Fall 1998 ad campaign featuring Alexander McQueen’s Blade Runner collection. Photos: Steven Meisel. Models: Erin O’Connor and Jade Parfitt.

K (Ryan Gosling) in Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049

K (Ryan Gosling) in Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Image: Vogue Italia.

For more production images for the new film, see the Vogue Italia gallery.

Patterns in Vogue: High-Toned Tweeds

September 21, 2017 § Leave a comment

"High-Toned Tweeds" - Stella Tennant in Very Easy Vogue 9369 tapered tweed pants

Detail from “High-Toned Tweeds,” Vogue, October 1995. Photo: Arthur Elgort. Editor: Grace Coddington.

Arthur Elgort and Grace Coddington’s mid-’90s editorial, “High-Toned Tweeds” (previously seen in my Anna Sui series), features Stella Tennant in stovepipe pants made from a Vogue pattern.

"High-Toned Tweeds" - Stella Tennant in Very Easy Vogue 9369 tapered tweed pants

Stella Tennant in Vogue, October 1995. Photo: Arthur Elgort. Editor: Grace Coddington.

Very Easy Very Vogue trouser pattern Vogue 9369 was made up for the magazine in Tessuti D.B.A. tweed from Encore Fabrics.

1990s easy tapered pants pattern Vogue 9369

Vogue 9369 (1995) Image: Etsy.

The World of Anna Sui

May 30, 2017 § 1 Comment

Tim Blanks, The World of Anna Sui (Abrams, 2017)

Tim Blanks, The World of Anna Sui (Abrams, 2017). Image: Abrams.

The World of Anna Sui opened at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London last weekend. It’s the museum’s first retrospective on a living American designer, with an accompanying book by Tim Blanks—out today from Abrams.

The World of Anna Sui, 26 May - 1 October 2017, London

Image: Joshua Jordan / Fashion and Textile Museum.

Anna Sui licensed her work with Vogue Patterns for some 16 years, from the mid-1990s to 2011. Read my series on Vogue patterns by Anna Sui:

1990s Anna Sui dress pattern V1619 on the cover of Vogue Patterns catalogue, September 1995

Vogue Patterns introduces Anna Sui for Vogue Attitudes: Vogue Patterns catalogue, September 1995. Image: eBay.

I’ve just listed this pattern for two dresses from Sui’s Mudd Club collection:

2000s Anna Sui stretch knit dress pattern Vogue 2551

Vogue 2551 by Anna Sui (2001) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

For more on Sui and her work, see Tim Blanks’ essay for the Business of Fashion, “Anna Sui, America’s Most Underrated Fashion Designer.”

Anna Sui coat in Peter Lindbergh Factory-themed shoot for Bazaar, 1995

Faux Mongolian lamb coat by Anna Sui, Harper’s Bazaar, August 1995. Photo: Peter Lindbergh.

Kirsty Hume in Anna Sui, with Donovan Leitch, photographed by Arthur Elgort for "Seasoned Simplicity," 1995

Kirsty Hume wears Anna Sui in Vogue, September 1995. Photo: Arthur Elgort. Editor: Grace Coddington.

Karen Elson in Anna Sui, photographed by Tim Walker for "Under the Boardwalk," 2003

Karen Elson in Anna Sui, Vogue, June 2003. Photo: Tim Walker. Editor: Grace Coddington. Image: Vogue.com.

Patterns in Vogue: Winona Ryder by Ellen von Unwerth

April 17, 2017 § 1 Comment

Ellen von Unwerth – Heimat at the Taschen Gallery, Los Angeles, 2017. Image: Taschen.

If you’re in LA this month, you can catch Ellen von Unwerth’s new show, Heimat, at the Taschen Gallery (to May 1st, 2017). A catalogue is available in two limited editions.

Ellen von Unwerth, Heimat - Bavarian show catalogue, 2017

Ellen von Unwerth, Heimat (Taschen, 2017) Image: Taschen.

In 1993, von Unwerth photographed Winona Ryder for a Vogue cover feature showcasing the season’s silver trend. One of the silver looks—shown twice—was made using a Vogue pattern.

"Riding High" Winona Ryder Vogue feature photographed by Ellen von Unwerth, 1993. "After three intense, adult dramas and the breakup of one romance and the start of another, Winona Ryder celebrates her twenty-second birthday this month with a stellar performance in The Age of Innocence. She tells David Handelman about her cheery new outlook on life and models this season's silver for Ellen Von Unwerth"

Winona Ryder in Vogue, October 1993. Photo: Ellen von Unwerth. Editor: Camilla Nickerson.

"Riding High" - Winona Ryder Vogue feature photographed by Ellen von Unwerth, 1993

Winona Ryder in V1446 silver leather coat, Vogue, October 1993. Photo: Ellen von Unwerth. Editor: Camilla Nickerson.

"Riding High" - Winona Ryder Vogue feature photographed by Ellen von Unwerth, 1993

Winona Ryder in a Betsey Johnson silver lamé suit and Converse sneakers. Vogue, October 1993. Photo: Ellen von Unwerth. Editor: Camilla Nickerson.

"Riding High" - Winona Ryder Vogue feature photographed by Ellen von Unwerth, 1993

Winona Ryder wears a silver leather coat made using Vogue 1446. Vogue, October 1993. Photo: Ellen von Unwerth. Editor: Camilla Nickerson.

Ryder’s duster is the long, view D version of Vogue 1446, made up in silver leather from Libra Leather.

Vogue 1446 (ca. 1984)

Vogue 1446 (ca. 1984) Image: Sew Exciting Needleworks.

Designer Swimwear: Vintage Patterns

August 9, 2016 § 6 Comments

1980s Bob Mackie swimsuit pattern McCall's 7138 photographed for McCall's summer news flier

McCall’s 7138 by Bob Mackie on the cover of McCall’s news, July 1980.

It’s been another hot summer here in Toronto. One of my earliest blog posts, Heat Wave!, surveys vintage beachwear patterns. This summer, let’s take a look at a more elusive beast: designer swimwear patterns.

1950s

The earliest pattern I’ve seen for designer swimwear is Pucci’s strapless one-piece, McCall’s 3977. This pattern was available in Junior sizes only. The suit was lined in jersey, and could be made with or without the brightly coloured appliqués:

1950s Emilio Pucci bathing suit pattern McCall's 3977

McCall’s 3977 by Emilio Pucci (1956) Image: eBay.

1960s

From another Italian designer, Irene Galitzine, Vogue 1288 is a pattern for a bikini, dress, and hat. The bikini consists of a cropped, cowl-neck blouse and bikini pants with side ties:

1960s Galitzine bikini, coverup, and hat pattern Vogue 1288

Vogue 1288 by Irene Galitzine (ca. 1963) Image: eBay.

1970s

The 1970s were the heyday of designer swimwear patterns, often with a coordinating coverup, and always for stretch knits. Vogue 1416 is an early design by Donna Karan; from Anne Klein’s collaboration with Penfold, the pattern includes both a maillot and a halter bikini:

Vogue 1416

Vogue 1416 by Donna Karan at Anne Klein for Penfold (1976) Image: Etsy.

From Bill Blass, Vogue 1455 includes a two-piece swimsuit with bra top and bikini briefs:

1970s Bill Blass jacket, pants, and swimsuit pattern Vogue 1455

Vogue 1455 by Bill Blass (1976)

John Kloss licensed a number of swimwear designs with Butterick. This ad promotes his patterns with a poolside photo of Butterick 4808:

Butterick Kloss ad 1976

Butterick 4808 by John Kloss, Butterick advertisement, 1976. Image: eBay.

Another Butterick designer, Gil Aimbez, designed this one-piece bathing suit. Contrast bias binding outlines the cut-away sides and bodice seaming detail:

1970s Gil Aimbez swimsuit and coverup pattern Butterick 5449

Butterick 5449 by Gil Aimbez (ca. 1977) Image: Etsy.

Like the Anne Klein Penfold pattern above, this Penfold pattern includes both one-piece and halter bikini bathing suits. The one-piece and bikini top are cut on the bias:

1970s Penfold pattern Vogue 1655

Vogue 1655 by Penfold (ca. 1977) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Both Penfold patterns can be seen in a Vogue Patterns editorial photographed in Antigua:

1970s Anne Klein / Penfold halter bikini pattern by Donna Karan, Vogue 1416 in Vogue Patterns magazine

Beach beauty: halter bikini Vogue 1416 by Donna Karan at Anne Klein for Penfold, Vogue Patterns, May/June 1977. Model: Clotilde. Photo: Albert Watson. Image: the Fashion Spot.

Vogue Patterns MayJun 1977 Penfold

Vogue 1655 by Penfold with Vogue 9808, Vogue Patterns, May/June 1977. Models: Lisa Cooper and Clotilde. Photos: Albert Watson. Image: the Fashion Spot.

From spring, 1978, Vogue 1893 seems to have been the only Catalina pattern. Instead of a coverup, it includes three styles of bathing suit: low-backed view A, strapless view B with built-in boning, and blouson view C is a two-piece:

1970s Catalina swimsuit pattern Vogue 1893

Vogue 1893 by Catalina (1978) Image: Etsy.

The magazine recommended making the Catalina suits in Thompson of California’s “second skin Tic Toc warp knit polyester crepes” in various prints:

Vogue 1893 by Catalina, Vogue Patterns, May/June 1978. Image: Vintage Goodness.

1980s

From 1980, McCall’s 7109 includes three one-piece swimsuits by the Italian label Basile: a mock wrap, belted halter-neck and variations on the strapless suit with gathered bust (available in the shop):

1980s Basile swimsuit pattern - McCall's 7109

McCall’s 7109 by Basile (1980) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Jerry Hall (right) seems to be wearing the view A style in this Basile ad photographed by Irving Penn:

vogue italia 1980 penn basile

Basile advertisement in Vogue Italia, 1980. Photo: Irving Penn. Models: Michelle Stevens and Jerry Hall. Image: the Fashion Spot.

Also from 1980, Bob Mackie’s strapless, colour-blocked swimsuit, McCall’s 7138, was photographed for the July counter catalogue and news leaflet (seen at the top of this post):

1980s Bob Mackie swimsuit and cover-up pattern McCall's 7138

McCall’s 7138 by Bob Mackie (1980) Image: Etsy.

1990s

Finally, this early ’90s DKNY pattern, Vogue 2897, is labelled ‘dress and bodysuit,’ but was photographed as beachwear:

1990s DKNY bodysuit and hooded dress / coverup pattern Vogue 2897

Vogue 2897 by DKNY (1992) Image: Etsy.

After a long swimwear pattern drought, the big pattern companies seem to have noticed the renewed popularity of sewing your own, custom bathing suit. For this summer, Simplicity reissued a 1950s bathing suit pattern, Simplicity 4307 / S8139, and The McCall Pattern Company has released a number of new swimwear designs, including one Vogue and two Lisette swimwear patterns.

Two designers with existing pattern licensing, Cynthia Rowley and Rachel Comey, both have swimwear lines. If we voice our support, perhaps we could soon see patterns for Cynthia Rowley surf wear and Rachel Comey Swim

Cynthia Rowley for Roxy wetsuit, 2010

Wetsuit by Cynthia Rowley for Roxy, 2010. Image: Pinterest.

Willy Somma self-portrait for Rachel Comey Swim, 2013

Willy Somma self-portrait for Rachel Comey Swim, T Magazine, May 2013. Image: nytimes.com.

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