Inauguration Sewing

President Kennedy with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy at his inauguration in January, 1961
President Kennedy with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy at his inauguration in January, 1961. Image: Leonard McCombe / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty.

President Joe Biden will reportedly be wearing Ralph Lauren to his inauguration. The fashion choices of the ceremony’s female attendees are shrouded in secrecy, but you can be sure the pattern companies are paying close attention.

Sixty years ago, Jacqueline Kennedy made Inauguration-Day history in Oleg Cassini and a Halston pillbox hat. Cassini may not have licensed any coat patterns, but dressmakers could soon make their own cloth hats with Vogue’s Halston patterns.

Vogue 6606 by Halston of Bergdorf Goodman (1965) Image: Etsy.

In 1965, Second Lady Muriel Humphrey Brown wore Balmain, made from a Vogue pattern. “For the inauguration itself, Mrs. Humphrey made her own dress of pale blue angora and wool broadcloth from a Vogue Paris original pattern by Balmain… The dress is semi-fitted, with simulated slot seaming along the bodice and down the front of the skirt, giving an empire line.” (“Mrs. Humphrey Sews Dress: Inauguration Gowns Will Be Red, White, Blue,” AP / Globe and Mail, January 18, 1965.) Her dress was probably this Vogue Paris Original:

Jean Shrimpton in a Balmain dress - Vogue Paris Original pattern no. 1327
Vogue 1327 by Balmain (1964) Model: Jean Shrimpton. Image: Etsy.

In 2009, Michelle Obama wore custom Isabel Toledo. A Butterick pattern soon followed:

Butterick 5396 after Isabel Toledo (2009) Image: Etsy.

In 2017, the publication of this Ralph Lauren-inspired inauguration ensemble caused some controversy:

V9266 (V1736) after Ralph Lauren on the cover of the Vogue Patterns Fall 2017 lookbook
V9266 after Ralph Lauren on the cover of the Vogue Patterns Fall 2017 lookbook. Model: Caroline Mathis. Image: Issuu.

Any guesses which designer labels Dr. Jill Biden and Kamala Harris might wear on Inauguration Day?

Update: Dr. Jill Biden chose NYC label Markarian, while Kamala Harris opted for Christopher John Rogers.

Douglas Emhoff, Kamala Harris, Jill Biden, and Joseph R. Biden at U.S. Capitol Inauguration Ceremony
Douglas Emhoff, Kamala Harris, Jill Biden, and Joseph R. Biden at U.S. Capitol Inauguration Ceremony. Image: Vogue / Getty Images.

About Time: Fashion and Duration

Iris van Herpen (Dutch, born 1984). Dress, fall/winter 2012–13 haute couture. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Iris van Herpen, in honor of Harold Koda, 2016 (2016.185). Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978). Ball Gown, 1951. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Coulson, 1964 (2009.300.1311). Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope
Dresses by Iris van Herpen and Charles James, 2012 and 1951. Photos © Nicholas Alan Cope. Image: Costume Institute.

The PatternVault blog turns nine today! It’s been a pleasure writing about vintage fashion for you, for almost a decade.

Speaking of the passage of time, this year’s major Costume Institute show, About Time: Fashion and Duration, also considers questions of style and temporality.

Planned to mark the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 150th anniversary, the spring-summer exhibit has been postponed to open on October 29, 2020 (closing February 7, 2021). Luckily, thanks to Yale University Press, the exhibition catalogue is available to purchase, or preview online.

Book cover for About Time: Fashion & Duration by Andrew Bolton, 2020
Andrew Bolton, About Time: Fashion & Duration (Metropolitan Museum of Art 2020) Design: Joseph Logan and Anamaria Morris. Image: Yale / Google Books.

The preview — and exquisite black-and-white photography by Nicholas Alan Cope — gives a taste of the garments selected for the now-postponed exhibition. Curator Andrew Bolton pairs Drecoll with Rick Owens, and a WW1 Red Cross uniform with current-season Margiela by Galliano.

Dinner dress by Christoph Drecoll, ca. 1912. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope
Dinner dress by Christoph Drecoll, ca. 1912. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope. Image: Yale / Google Books.
Rick Owens Fall/Winter 2007-8. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope
Rick Owens Fall/Winter 2007-8. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope. Image: Yale / Google Books.
American Red Cross uniform, 1918. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope
American Red Cross uniform, 1918. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope. Image: Yale / Google Books.
John Galliano for Martin Margiela Spring 2020. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope
John Galliano for Martin Margiela Spring 2020. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope. Image: Yale / Google Books.

As I noted on Twitter, About Time also includes a look at the McQueen dress that is SHOWstudio’s latest Design Download.

Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2020. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope
Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2020. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope. Image: Yale / Google Books.
Detail, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2020. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope
Detail, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2020. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope. Image: Yale / Google Books.

Happy blogiversary to me, and happy sesquicentennial to the Met!