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:
Next: James Galanos’ Vogue patterns.
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.
October 18, 2016 § 4 Comments
Last month, Rachel Comey celebrated her label’s 15-year anniversary with an outdoor presentation of unisex looks for Spring 2017. For home sewers, Comey’s ongoing licensing with Vogue Patterns has made her one to watch. Here’s a look at highlights of her patterns so far.
Born in Manchester, Connecticut, Rachel Comey (b. 1973) originally trained as a sculptor. After moving to New York, she consulted for Theory while designing clothes for local performers like Gogol Bordello—a connection that led her and the band to the Whitney Biennial. She launched her menswear collection in September, 2001, followed by women’s wear in 2004. Comey has developed a cult following for her footwear, prints, and general “bullshit-free kookiness.”
Comey was introduced to home sewers in the February/March 2010 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine with two patterns, Vogue 1161 and 1170:
The originals showcase Comey’s leopard and man-with-umbrella prints, both from the Fall 2009 collection.
Powerhouse Vogue 1247 includes an A-line miniskirt and the Navigator top, a design that was produced over multiple seasons (available in the shop):
Vogue 1298 is a pattern for Comey’s Tippet dress. (She also designed an open-backed Tippet top.) The Tippet is an apron dress with raised hem and straps drawn together in back:
The dress was shown in a different print in the Spring 2011 collection:
Also from 2012, Vogue 1323 is a top and pants ensemble consisting of the Syndicate blouse and cuffed Saunter pant. The trousers were also produced in textured velvet and various prints:
Vogue 1406, known as the Surveillance dress, has an asymmetrical neckline, back godet, and ruched waist detail:
Here’s the original star-print Surveillance dress on the Fall 2013 runway:
Comey’s batwing Wades dress is available as Vogue 1482. The diagonal front seam conceals a pocket:
From the same collection, Vogue 1507 includes the Bowtie top and slim pants with an asymmetrical front closure:
Vogue 1501 is a pattern for the Delane dress, a sleeveless, mock two-piece dress with pleating details. The original shows off Comey’s Collage print; the design was also produced with a contrast front bodice and in a single, solid colour:
The latest Rachel Comey pattern is a long-sleeved jumpsuit, Vogue 1523 (click to view in the shop):
The Botanical-print jumpsuit was part of the Fall 2015 collection’s closing look:
Interestingly, Comey was quoted in the New York Times’ recent article on the McCall Pattern Company (“Needle, Thread, Instagram“):
The New York designer Rachel Comey has licensed her patterns to McCall since 2010, where they appear under the Vogue Patterns brand. She didn’t do it for the money. “I just like the tradition of it,” Ms. Comey said. “Sewing is a great craft. It’s exciting and confidence building. I wanted to support it.”
Now if only we could source those Rachel Comey prints…
September 22, 2016 § 4 Comments
To celebrate the first day of autumn, here’s a vintage Butterick cover from fall, 1935.
The fur-collared cover look is Butterick 6399, “A brief and buttoned jacket, snugly fitted and collared with badger or wolf, plus a skirt worn shorter than the length you’re used to—these make the suit the epitome of fall chic.”
For more on vintage fur, both natural and faux, see Fur Cloth for Fall.
September 18, 2016 § 2 Comments
How to make the most of a beautiful print? As an early ’70s British Vogue editorial puts it, “Cape it… blouse it… kilt it.”
The Clive Arrowsmith editorial features Ann Schaufuss in three Vogue patterns that present the silhouettes of fall 1970 in glowing, ink-coloured prints. From Nina Ricci, Vogue 2406 is an “enveloping berber cape” and sleeveless dress made from two Staron fabrics in the same “glass-flower” print: a luxurious wool-viscose-polyamide for the cape and panne velvet for the dress, available at Harrods and Gasmey, London.
The second look pairs a yoked, full-sleeved blouse, Vogue 7538, and long Miss Vogue kilt Vogue 7889. The blouse is turquoise silk crepe de chine from Gasmey, while the kilt is Bombyx rayon panne velvet in a green and jewel-toned print, available at Liberty (boots to order at The Chelsea Cobbler):
The boho Baba Yaga look may not be to everyone’s taste, but velvet and early ’70s style are trends for fall 2016… Time to dig out some vintage prints?
(See Youthquakers for more of the October issue.)
September 13, 2016 § 7 Comments
Jean Muir was the only designer to ascend from Butterick Young Designer to Vogue Couturier. (See my post on Jean Muir’s Butterick patterns here.) This week, a look at Vogue’s Jean Muir patterns from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s.
Jean Muir was introduced as a new Vogue Couturier in Vogue Pattern Book’s first issue of 1972. Three Muir designs (Vogue 2663, 2664, and 2646) were pictured throughout the magazine, but only the last two appear in the designer feature: Vogue 2664’s full-sleeved dress in saffron jersey, and Vogue 2646’s evening dress and matching short shorts in bone-coloured matte jersey. The model on the right is Joyce Walker (click to enlarge):
Posing for Richard Avedon, Faye Dunaway wears a Jean Muir dress with handkerchief sleeves:
This dress with gathered centre panels and shirttail hem was featured on the counter catalogue in a lush floral print:
Vogue 2884 is an evening dress with raised waist and pintuck details. The back is particularly elegant (available in the shop):
David Bailey photographed Anjelica Huston in an olive version—with matching cloche—for British Vogue:
Muir ensembles often involve matching hats, and her patterns sometimes include a head covering. This pattern has three (click to view in the PatternVault shop):
A news cover illustrated by Michaele Vollbracht recommends wearing View C’s ‘ScarfCap’ with a ‘BigDress’ for fall ’75:
Vogue 1153 has characteristic Jean Muir dressmaker details—radiating Deco pintucks, tucked sleeves, released pleats, and contrast topstitching. The recommended fabrics include lightweight synthetic knits, matte jersey, tricot knits, and wool jersey:
On assignment for Vogue, Deborah Turbeville photographed Muir with models in her all-white apartment:
Turbeville’s legendary Bathhouse series includes a Jean Muir Liberty-print smock:
Vogue 2399’s full-sleeved dress was previously seen in my Iman post:
Vogue 2463 reinterprets Muir’s trademark cut-in sleeves and pin-tucked bodice for the early ’80s:
Vogue 1123’s two-piece dress arranges pleated volumes around smooth central panels:
The latest Jean Muir Vogue pattern I’ve seen is Vogue 1502, a jacket and skirt. The unlined jacket has deep kimono sleeves and a broad waistline tuck:
Style Patterns—by then owned by Simplicity—produced this dress pattern to accompany Channel Four’s 1993 television series, Very Jean Muir. The pattern is found in the National Museum of Scotland’s Jean Muir Collection:
Jean Muir’s dedication to the craft of fashion design gives her work a special appeal for home sewers. When Leeds Art Galleries mounted a travelling Jean Muir exhibition, dressmakers brought their Vogue patterns for her to sign.* Have you made any Jean Muir patterns?
* Maureen Cleave, “Makers of Modern Fashion: Jean Muir,” Observer supplement, September 21, 1980.
August 28, 2016 § 2 Comments
This summer, after extensive renovations, the National Museum of Scotland opened its new galleries, including a Fashion and Style gallery. Jean Muir’s archive is housed in the museum, so the new gallery returns this important collection of her work to public view. To celebrate, I’ll be posting a two-part series on Jean Muir sewing patterns.
Though born in London, Jean Muir (1928-1995) is often called “the Scottish Chanel.” Muir began her career working at Liberty London. She was the designer for Jaeger before winning backing for her first label, Jane & Jane, in the early 1960s; she also designed for Morel London. In the fall of 1966 she founded her own company, Jean Muir Ltd. Acclaimed for her precise cut in jersey, leather, and suede, she preferred to be called a dressmaker.
Muir and her designs are featured in Life magazine’s 1963 portfolio (headlined “Brash New Breed of British Designers”) on what was then called the Chelsea Look.
Jean Muir licensed patterns with Butterick’s Young Designers line into the early 1970s.
In early 1965, Butterick introduced Jean Muir of Jane & Jane with four designs in the Spring 1965 catalogue (click to enlarge):
This simple Jane & Jane dress is accented with two narrow tucks above the hemline:
The tucks on Butterick 3609 recall the single, broad hemline tuck on this Jane & Jane dress photographed by David Bailey in Kenya:
This mod, A-line dress is trimmed with buttons and topstitching (click to view in the shop):
The young Grace Coddington posed in the sleeveless version for British Vogue:
Previously seen in my Celia Hammond post, this Jane & Jane dress has a standing neckline, raglan sleeves, and Muir’s trademark tiny button trim:
Within a year of founding her own company, Muir saw her double-breasted ‘cavalier’ coat on the cover of British Vogue:
With its shoulder yokes and double-breasted front, Butterick 5242 is a similar design:
Muir’s signature topstitching and shoulder yokes define the details on Butterick 4937, a sleeveless dress illustrated on the cover of the August 1968 news leaflet:
The pattern envelope shows the dress with and without the low-slung belt carriers:
David Bailey photographed a similar Jean Muir belted jumper in green Harris tweed:
Previously seen in my Mad Men-era Butterick Young Designers post, Butterick 5657 is the kind of fluid jersey dress Muir became known for:
The design is from Muir’s Fall 1969 collection—photographed here in cloud grey jersey:
Butterick 5954 was shown in both mini and midi lengths; the recommended fabrics include jersey, knit, and synthetic knits. The contrast cuffs and bib front give the opportunity for colour blocking or print mixing as in the Liberty-style illustration (available in the shop):
Before Butterick switched to illustrations only, there was a growing disparity in quality between pattern and editorial photography. Here it obscures the potential of Muir’s tucked and colour blocked peasant tunic:
Jeanloup Sieff photographed a similar dress-and-knickers ensemble for an editorial in Nova magazine:
The latest Jean Muir Young Designer pattern I’ve seen is Butterick 6398, a high-waisted dress with tiny self ruffles, button trim, and optional contrast sleeves and hemband:
I’ll close with this 1970 Norman Parkinson photo of a Jean Muir dress and turban in Monument Valley, in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery:
Next: Jean Muir’s Vogue Couturier patterns.