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.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
From Bill Blass, Vogue 1455 includes a two-piece swimsuit with bra top and bikini briefs:
John Kloss licensed a number of swimwear designs with Butterick. This ad promotes his patterns with a poolside photo of Butterick 4808:
Another Butterick designer, Gil Aimbez, designed this one-piece bathing suit. Contrast bias binding outlines the cut-away sides and bodice seaming detail:
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:
Both Penfold patterns can be seen in a Vogue Patterns editorial photographed in Antigua:
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:
The magazine recommended making the Catalina suits in Thompson of California’s “second skin Tic Toc warp knit polyester crepes” in various prints:
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):
Jerry Hall (right) seems to be wearing the view A style in this Basile ad photographed by Irving Penn:
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):
Finally, this early ’90s DKNY pattern, Vogue 2897, is labelled ‘dress and bodysuit,’ but was photographed as beachwear:
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…
Oscar de la Renta was born in July 1932; he would have turned 84 last week. In honour of his birthday, I’ll be looking at Oscar de la Renta sewing patterns from the 1990s and 2000s. (See Part 1 here.)
The 1990s marked Oscar de la Renta’s fourth decade with Vogue Patterns. From 1990, Vogue 2500 is a dress with pleated overlay and asymmetrical bias collar, chic in a polka dot print. De la Renta was pictured with a model wearing this design in Vogue Patterns magazine (May/June issue); the photo also made the cover of the counter catalogue:
In 1992, de la Renta became the first American to take over a French couture house when he was appointed chief designer at Balmain. He had begun presenting his own collection in Paris the previous year. (See Suzy Menkes, “De la Renta Joins Balmain.”) The cover of the Assouline book pictured above shows Balmain haute couture; a similar tableau was created for the de Young retrospective.
Vogue 1638 is a brightly coloured skirt suit from Oscar de la Renta’s Spring 1995 collection (full video on YouTube here). Its tailored details, like the jacket’s back pleats and martingale belt, won it an Advanced skill rating. The design was featured in a Vogue Patterns suits article (see The Overflowing Stash) and on the cover of the counter catalogue:
This double-breasted skirt suit, shown on the runway in pink satin, must be from the Fall 1995 collection. The recommended fabrics are satin, damask, and gabardine:
Ellen von Unwerth photographed Stella Tennant in a corseted lace Oscar de la Renta dress with flamenco dancer Joaquín Cortés for Vogue’s 1996 September issue:
Two years later, Hillary Clinton wore Oscar de la Renta for her Vogue cover (more here):
Vogue 2361 is a formal dress from the Spring 1998 collection. The skirt is cut on the bias, the bodice and hemline flounces are finished with self fabric binding, and view A has an asymmetrical train. Kirsten Owen modelled the original on the runway:
Just for fun, here’s another editorial photo showing de la Renta’s couture work at Balmain. Ruven Afanador photographed this lace-embroidered gown with matching chihuahua:
This floral print evening dress is a design from de la Renta’s Spring 2000 collection. Piping defines the waist, and the bias train is trimmed with waist pleats and flounces. The original was modelled on the runway by Carmen Kass:
The Fall 2001 collection included two “decidedly gothic black opera coats,” and Vogue Patterns chose one of them for its customers. Vogue 2714 is a full-sleeved, floor-length opera coat trimmed with frog closures and pleated ruffles. The pattern is sometimes numbered “P935 – Best Seller”:
From the Spring 2005 collection, strapless gown pattern Vogue 2889 evokes flamenco with its tiered skirt and draped, drop-waist bodice. The design was shown on the runway with length and bodice variations:
Vogue 2928 is a grand, off-the-shoulder ballgown complete with boned foundation, attached petticoat, and self fabric flowers and appliqués. The gown was the penultimate look in de la Renta’s Fall 2005 collection:
For more on the late designer, see Vogue’s retrospective. Have you made any Oscar de la Renta patterns?
In celebration of Canada Day, this post is dedicated to the late Arnold Scaasi.
Arnold Scaasi (1930-2015) was born in Montreal as Arnold Isaacs. (Scaasi is Isaacs backwards—depending who you ask, the designer changed his name either to sound more Italian or less Jewish.) His father was a furrier, his mother had studied opera, and his glamorous, Schiaparelli-loving Aunt Ida was an early inspiration. He studied in Montreal and Paris, at the Cotnoir-Capponi school and the Chambre Syndicale, then worked at Paquin and Charles James in New York before launching his own business in 1956.
Scaasi was best known for his opulent evening wear, custom-made for society and celebrity clients who appreciated the drama of his sculptural silhouettes, luxurious materials, and flamboyant use of colour. In 2002, the Museum at FIT mounted the retrospective Scaasi: Exuberant Fashion and, following his retirement in 2010, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston hosted Scaasi: American Couturier, an exhibition structured around his couture clients.
Scaasi lost no time in pursuing pattern licensing. These Scaasi Spadea patterns date to 1956:
A few decades later, Claire Shaeffer covered Scaasi’s couture techniques for Threads magazine:
It was only in the early 1990s that Scaasi licensed his work with Vogue Patterns. The designer was introduced in the November/December 1993 issue of Vogue Patterns with three patterns. The first, Vogue 1285, is a low-backed cocktail or evening dress with sheer contrast:
This formal ensemble includes two-layer palazzo pants for chiffon or georgette and a top for scalloped lace:
Vogue 1287 is a collarless skirt suit with caftan-style side slits:
From spring, 1994, this dress is shaped by long darts in front and back and trimmed with a flounce:
Finally, Vogue 1377’s dress has a boned bodice and slightly off-the-shoulder neckline. The original’s striped fabric was cut on a creative layout:
In 1991, Scaasi told The Canadian Press, “When I left Canada some 30 years ago, there was no room for creative talent in dress design. At that time, the only way to really make it was to go to the United States.” A New Yorker from 1951, he met his partner, Parker Ladd, on Central Park South in the early 1960s; they married in 2011.
Often called the world’s oldest working model, Carmen Dell’Orefice (b. 1931) was discovered at thirteen on a New York City bus; at sixteen she had her first Vogue cover. In 2011, the London College of Fashion devoted an exhibition to her modelling work, Carmen: A Life In Fashion.
Dell’Orefice’s work with New York pattern companies may be seen in postwar publications from Vogue, McCall’s, and Simplicity, as well as more recent Vogue patterns.
A Richard Rutledge editorial for Vogue Pattern Book features the young Dell’Orefice in new patterns for spring, 1949 (jacket Vogue 6716 and blouses Vogue 6065 and Vogue 6707, all with skirt Vogue 6708):
On this McCall Pattern Book cover from Summer, 1957, she models McCall’s 4095 and 4097:
Here, Dell’Orefice poses in an all-red ensemble for the cover of Simplicity magazine, Fall 1958:
Here she wears gown Vogue 9827 on the cover of Vogue Pattern Book’s holiday issue:
After a break, Dell’Orefice returned to modelling in the late 1970s. On these two patterns from the ’80s, she wears Vogue 8195, a caftan-style dress, and Arlene Dahl gown Vogue 8521 in gold lamé:
In the later 1990s, Dell’Orefice posed for many patterns in The Vogue Woman line. Vogue 1972 is a seasonless wardrobe pattern, while Vogue 9821 is a dress and tunic suitable for petites: