December 28, 2016 § 1 Comment
China Machado, the first mixed-race supermodel, has died. She was 86.
Born in Shanghai to Chinese and Portuguese parents, China Machado (1929-2016) was famous for working with Richard Avedon and Hubert de Givenchy. Later, she became a different kind of pioneer, as a model-turned-editor, when she succeeded Diana Vreeland as fashion director at Harper’s Bazaar.
According to a 2010 profile, Machado made most of her own clothes, having learned to sew from her aunts in Shanghai. She returned to modelling in her eighties.
In the ’70s, China Machado designed a Very Easy Vogue pattern for stretch knits, dubbed “The Shortcuts.” The collaboration was the subject of a four-page feature in Vogue Patterns magazine (click to enlarge):
The wardrobe pattern of “nine easy pieces” for resort and lounge wear included a bikini, cover-ups, a skirt and pantskirt, and even a one-shouldered toga ensemble:
Another modelling pioneer, Beverly Johnson, wore Machado’s designs in Vogue magazine:
With thanks to my mother and Nadia at Sew Exciting Needleworks.
December 21, 2016 § 2 Comments
A Celanese advertising insert from the late 1950s shows McCall’s festive styles in the latest synthetic silks—top models and more than one tiara from the multinational chemical company that brought you cellulose acetate.
The booklet frames small, full-length photos of McCall’s designs with close-ups showing off the “brilliant” textiles. Here, McCall’s 4999 is shown in Belding Corticelli’s rayon-acetate matelassé, with McCall’s 5057 in Cohama’s Arnel triacetate faille. The model on the right is Simone D’Aillencourt:
Here, Dovima wears a shimmering gold version of McCall’s 4425 in Lawrence and Klauber printed crepe satin acetate, while McCall’s 4870 evokes Princess Grace in aqua acetate satin from William Skinner and Sons:
Dovima closes the booklet in McCall’s 5012, an at-home trouser ensemble shown in orange and tangerine Celaperm acetate satin peau from Wedgwood Fabrics.
For more on the history of Celanese (est. 1918), see the company website.
Happy holidays, everyone!
December 16, 2016 § 3 Comments
This week, a look at the late James Galanos’ licensed Vogue patterns. (See my McCall’s post here.)
Vogue Patterns introduced James Galanos patterns in late 1967, with two dress designs modelled by Maud Adams and Lauren Hutton. The counter catalogue promotes Galanos’ “masterful touch” with an alternate shot of Vogue 1854, an A-line dress with side pleats at right front and left back:
Lauren Hutton models Vogue 1855, a coat dress with double inverted pleats in the back:
This short, wrap-effect evening dress has square armholes and front pleats concealing pockets:
Later Galanos patterns were photographed on location in New York, where the designer showed his collections. This dress goes one further than Vogue 1855 and has double inverted pleats in both front and back:
Jumpsuit Vogue 2524 features a shoulder yoke, pintucks, and wide, corded belt:
The latest Galanos pattern I’ve seen is Vogue 2639, a long-sleeved evening dress with front slit and waistline smocking detail:
A dreamy illustration made the cover of the news leaflet:
December 11, 2016 § Leave a comment
We finally got some snow in Toronto. Here’s a winter-themed cover from the mid-1930s.
The pattern is McCall 8038, a suit consisting of a high-waisted skirt and tunic-length wrap coat with fur-trimmed collar.
(The NRA eagle logo shows compliance with the National Recovery Administration. For more on this Depression-era US policy, see Rebecca Onion for Slate.)
November 28, 2016 § Leave a comment
Today marks the 50th anniversary of Truman Capote’s legendary Black and White Ball. (Read Amy Fine Collins’ article for the 30th.)
To mark the occasion, I’m having a flash sale in the PatternVault Etsy shop.
The sale runs through today only—20% off with coupon code CAPOTE. Your purchase helps support the research on this blog.
November 27, 2016 § 4 Comments
James Galanos died last month. He was 92. According to his obituary in the New York Times, Galanos authorized only two licenses: furs and fragrance. But he also licensed commercial sewing patterns—first with McCall’s, and later with Vogue Patterns. This post looks at Galanos’ 1950s patterns with McCall’s.
Born in Philadelphia to Greek parents, James Galanos (1924-2016) was a graduate of the Traphagen School of Fashion. He worked with Hattie Carnegie, Hollywood costume designer Jean Louis, and Robert Piguet before founding his own, LA-based label in 1951. He retired in 1998, the year after LACMA mounted a retrospective of his work. Galanos won the devotion of celebrities and socialites with his virtuoso technique and flawless craftsmanship.
McCall’s introduced designer exclusives by “James Galanos, brilliant young star of American fashion” with two patterns for winter 1956-57. The Galanos designs—full-skirted formal gowns in two lengths—were prominently featured in the holiday issues of McCall’s Pattern Book and the company’s monthly news leaflet.
According to the news leaflet, McCall’s 3894 is “a fabulous ball gown to make in brocade.” The molded bodice is a trademark Galanos touch:
McCall’s 3895 is a bow-trimmed evening gown. As the leaflet notes, “Beautifully low-cut in back, it can be cocktail length.” Recommended fabrics included heavy satin, peau de soie, brocade, and taffeta:
In spring, 1957, McCall’s released two more Galanos patterns: the lavishly full-skirted McCall’s 4045 and 4046.
Here, the back bodice extends into a front yoke. The skirt and petticoat were to be made in organdy, nylon, or silk organza:
The new Galanos patterns were promoted in the March issue of McCall’s magazine (“Galanos designs: Black-and-white for summer evenings”) and in the company’s “Make the Clothes that Make the Woman” advertising campaign.
In the Summer 1957 pattern book, the designs are illustrated in green linen and flower-embroidered organdy:
Today, Galanos’ McCall’s patterns are quite scarce. Perhaps customers balked at the extravagant yardage: the skirt for one dress took over 20 yards of narrow fabric. Galanos’ work with sheer layers continued into the following decade, as seen in this 1961 editorial by Gordon Parks:
November 9, 2016 § 3 Comments
From Weldons’ 1940s So-Easy line, this “Ten-Second” Siren Wrap features a cozy hood and chic contrast binding:
Other So-Easy air raid patterns included a women’s two-way siren suit (no. 19), child’s hooded siren suit (no. 17), and girl’s hooded siren suit (no. 18).
The pattern tissue is printed with an advertisement for Dewhurst’s Sylko machine twist.
For knitters, Weldons also had a special knitting book called Quick-Change Siren Woollies (click to view an Etsy download):
For more on Weldons’ wartime So-Easy patterns, see There’s a War On.