Jean Muir: Butterick Patterns

August 28, 2016 § 1 Comment

Jean Muir for Jane & Jane, Butterick Home Catalog, Spring 1965.

Jean Muir for Jane & Jane, Butterick Home Catalog, Spring 1965.

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.

ARCHIVE - Personal Lecture Slides from the Jean Muir Collection

Box with slides from the Jean Muir Collection. Image: National Museum of Scotland.

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.

Jaeger advertisement illustrated by René Gruau, 1957

Jaeger advertisement illustrated by René Gruau, 1957. Image: Jaeger.co.uk.

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.

Jane & Jane "granny" dress photographed by Norman Parkinson at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, 1963

Jane & Jane “granny” dress at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, Life magazine, October 18, 1963. Photo: Norman Parkinson. Image: Google books.

In her review of the National Museum of Scotland’s 2008 exhibit, Jean Muir: A Fashion Icon, Lynne Walker credits Muir with designing Diana Rigg’s wardrobe as Emma Peel in The Avengers, including her iconic leather catsuit—a symbol of swinging London.

Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in The Avengers - leather catsuit in "Death at Bargain Prices"

Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in The Avengers (ca. 1965)

Jean Muir licensed patterns with Butterick’s Young Designers line into the early 1970s.

1960s

In early 1965, Butterick introduced Jean Muir of Jane & Jane with four designs in the Spring 1965 catalogue (click to enlarge):

1960s photo of Jean Muir and her new Butterick patterns (nos. 3493 and 3492)

“From London: Designs by Jane & Jane,” Butterick Home Catalog, Spring 1965.

1960s Jean Muir Jane & Jane patterns Butterick 3495 and 3494

Butterick 3495 and 3494 by Jean Muir for Jane & Jane, Butterick Home Catalog, Spring 1965.

This simple Jane & Jane dress is accented with two narrow tucks above the hemline:

1960s Jane & Jane dress pattern by Jean Muir, Butterick 3609

Butterick 3609 by Jean Muir of Jane & Jane (ca. 1965) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

The tucks on Butterick 3609 recall the single, broad hemline tuck on this Jane & Jane dress photographed by David Bailey in Kenya:

Jane & Jane wool dress by Jean Muir (Dolores hat; Ascher scarf) photographed in Kenya by David Bailey

Jane & Jane wool dress with secretary bird, British Vogue, February 1965. Photo: David Bailey. Model: Sue Murray. Image: Youthquakers.

This mod, A-line dress is trimmed with buttons and topstitching (click to view in the shop):

1960s Jean Muir of Jane & Jane dress pattern Butterick 3722

Butterick 3722 by Jean Muir of Jane & Jane (ca. 1965) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

The young Grace Coddington posed in the sleeveless version for British Vogue:

Grace Coddington wears a Jane & Jane dress by Jean Muir in British Vogue, 1965

Jane & Jane dress in British Vogue, March 15, 1965. Photo: Eugene Vernier. Model: Grace Coddington. Image: Youthquakers.

Previously seen in my Celia Hammond post, this Jane & Jane dress has a standing neckline, raglan sleeves, and Muir’s trademark tiny button trim:

1960s Jean Muir Jane & Jane pattern feat. Celia Hammond, Butterick 4153

Butterick 4153 by Jean Muir of Jane & Jane (ca. 1966) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Within a year of founding her own company, Muir saw her double-breasted ‘cavalier’ coat on the cover of British Vogue:

Jean Shrimpton wears a Jean Muir coat on the cover of British Vogue, 1967 - Ph. David Bailey

Coat by Jean Muir, British Vogue, August 1967. Photo: David Bailey. Model: Jean Shrimpton. Image: Youthquakers.

"Cover: New brilliance, new romantic accessories, new cavalier look." Jean Shrimpton photographed by David Bailey for the cover of British Vogue August 1967

Burnished orange and navy blue striped cavalier coat in Garigue wool by Jean Muir, British Vogue, August 1967. Photo: David Bailey. Model: Jean Shrimpton. Image: Youthquakers.

With its shoulder yokes and double-breasted front, Butterick 5242 is a similar design:

1960s Jean Muir coat pattern Butterick 5242

Butterick 5242 by Jean Muir (ca. 1969) Image: Serendipity Vintage.

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:

1960s Jean Muir dress pattern Butterick 4937 - Butterick Fashion News illustration

Butterick 4937 by Jean Muir on the cover of Butterick Fashion News, August 1968. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The pattern envelope shows the dress with and without the low-slung belt carriers:

1960s Jean Muir dress pattern Butterick 4937

Butterick 4937 by Jean Muir (ca. 1968) Image: Etsy.

David Bailey photographed a similar Jean Muir belted jumper in green Harris tweed:

Sue Murray in a Jean Muir jumper, British Vogue, fall 1967 - Ph. David Bailey

Jean Muir jumper in British Vogue, October 15, 1967. Photo: David Bailey. Model: Sue Murray. Image: Youthquakers.

1970s

Previously seen in my Mad Men-era Butterick Young Designers post, Butterick 5657 is the kind of fluid jersey dress Muir became known for:

Late 1960s / early 1970s Jean Muir dress pattern Butterick 5657

Butterick 5657 by Jean Muir (ca. 1970)

The design is from Muir’s Fall 1969 collection—photographed here in cloud grey jersey:

Moyra Swan in a jersey minidress by Jean Muir, British Vogue, 1969

Jean Muir jersey dress, British Vogue, August 1969. Photo: David Montgomery. Model: Moyra Swan. Image: Youthquakers.

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):

1970 Jean Muir dress pattern Butterick 5954

Butterick 5954 by Jean Muir (ca. 1970) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

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:

1970s Jean Muir two-piece dress pattern Butterick 6222

Butterick 6222 by Jean Muir (ca. 1971)

Jeanloup Sieff photographed a similar dress-and-knickers ensemble for an editorial in Nova magazine:

Chiffon dress and knickers by Jean Muir, Nova, March 1972. Photo: Jeanloup Sieff. Editor: Caroline Baker. Image: Miss Peelpants.

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:

1970s Jean Muir dress pattern Butterick 6398

Butterick 6398 by Jean Muir (ca. 1971)

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:

Norman Parkinson, Jan Ward in Jean Muir, 1970

Jean Muir dress, British Vogue, January 1971 (1970). Photo: Norman Parkinson. Model: Jan Ward. Image: the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Next: Jean Muir’s Vogue Couturier patterns.

In memoriam: Sonia Rykiel

August 27, 2016 § Leave a comment

Vogue Jan 1975 Rykiel

Sonia Rykiel ensemble, Vogue, January 1975. Photo: Deborah Turbeville. Image: The Fashion Spot.

Farewell to Sonia Rykiel—designer, author, queen of knitwear. She will be missed.

Oscar de la Renta: Vogue Patterns, Part 1

May 29, 2016 § 4 Comments

OscardelaRenta

There’s only one day left to see Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective, curated by André Leon Talley for the de Young Museum in San Francisco. (Show ends May 30, 2016). If you won’t be able to make it, an exhibition catalogue is available in three formats, including a floral print-bound limited edition. For more on the show see Maghan McDowell, “First Look: Five Decades of Oscar de la Renta.”

de Young Oscar de la Renta exibition catalogue cover

Jennifer Park, Molly Sorkin, and André Leon Talley, Oscar de la Renta (Prestel, 2016) Image: Prestel.

Oscar de la Renta (1932-2014) was born Óscar Aristides Ortiz de la Renta Fiallo in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the only boy in a family of seven. After moving to Spain to study art at Madrid’s Real Academía de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, in 1954 he began work as a sketcher at Balenciaga; by 1959 he was assisting Antonio del Castillo at Lanvin-Castillo in Paris.

LIFE 9 Jul 1956 p118

De la Renta fitting debutante Beatrice Cabot Lodge, Life, July 9, 1956. Photo: Nina Leen. Image: Google books.

In 1963 de la Renta moved to New York to pursue a career in ready-to-wear. He was soon hired as designer for Elizabeth Arden and, in 1965, became a partner at Jane Derby, the house he would take over for his own label. (For more see official site or The New York Times’ timeline.)

House photograph of an evening dress of gold and pink silk damask, Elizabeth Arden by Oscar de la Renta, autumn/winter 1963.

Elizabeth Arden by Oscar de la Renta evening dress in gold and pink silk damask, Fall-Winter 1963. Model: Isabella Albonico. Image: Oscar de la Renta via the de Young Museum.

De la Renta licensed his designs with Vogue Patterns from the 1960s to the 2000s. This week, a look at Oscar de la Renta patterns from the ’60s to the ’80s.

Oscar de la Renta photo + bio on a 1980s Vogue Patterns envelope flap

1960s

Oscar de la Renta dress photographed for Vogue by Henry Clarke at Villa Boscogrande

Oscar de la Renta dress photographed at Villa Boscogrande, Sicily, Vogue, December 1967. Photo: Henry Clarke. Image via Youthquakers.

Oscar de la Renta was among the designers included in Vogue-Butterick’s new Vogue Americana line, which was launched in 1967. From 1968, Vogue 1909 is a short-sleeved evening dress with standing collar and front-dart pockets:

1960s Oscar de la Renta dress pattern Vogue 1909

Vogue 1909 by Oscar de la Renta (1968) Image via the Vintage Pattern Wiki.

This short evening dress has contrast bias cuffs and collar—flexible jewel trim optional:

1960s Oscar de la Renta dress pattern Vogue 2101

Vogue 2101 by Oscar de la Renta (1969) Image via the Vintage Pattern Wiki.

Vogue 2219, an evening dress in two lengths, includes a wide, contrast cummerbund and pockets in the inverted side pleats:

1960s Oscar de la Renta evening dress pattern Vogue 2219

Vogue 2219 by Oscar de la Renta (1969) Image via the Vintage Pattern Wiki.

1970s

Shown in a rich, metallic brocade, Vogue 2280 is a short, high-waisted evening dress accented with a jewel-trimmed belt (as seen in Vogue Pattern Book here):

Vogue 2280

Vogue 2280 by Oscar de la Renta (1970) Image: eBay.

A 1972 editorial by Helmut Newton shows Lauren Hutton in an early Oscar de la Renta caftan:

"Adventures in Yellow": Lauren Hutton with stuntman Lance Rimmer photographed for Vogue by Helmut Newton, 1972

Oscar de la Renta caftan, Vogue, June 1972. Photo: Helmut Newton. Model: Lauren Hutton. Image via Youthquakers.

From 1973—the year of the ‘Battle of Versailles’ fashion show—this ruffled evening dress was shown in both solid colours and a floral border print:

1970s ruffled Oscar de la Renta dress pattern Vogue 2879

Vogue 2879 by Oscar de la Renta (1973) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Christie Brinkley models Vogue 1667, a blouse for two layers of sheer fabric and dirndl maxi skirt with deep hemline ruffle:

Christie Brinkley in 1970s Oscar de la Renta pattern Vogue 1667

Vogue 1667 by Oscar de la Renta in Vogue Patterns, May/June 1977. Model: Christie Brinkley. Image: Vintage Goodness.

Peasant blouse-and-skirt ensemble Vogue 1776 was featured on this winter catalogue cover:

1970s Vogue Patterns catalogue cover featuring Vogue 1776 by Oscar de la Renta

Vogue 1776 by Oscar de la Renta on the cover of Vogue Patterns catalogue, February 1978. Image: eBay.

In this photo by Deborah Turbeville—previously seen in a Patterns in Vogue post—the gold-pistachio lamé evening separates at far right were made using Oscar de la Renta pattern Vogue 2182:

Vogue Nov1979 Turbeville

From “Striking Gold,” Vogue, November 1979. Photo: Deborah Turbeville.

1980s

Vogue 1027’s caftan (previously seen in my caftans post) is featured in the San Francisco exhibit. The original is hand-painted silk crêpe de chine:

1980s Oscar de la Renta caftan pattern Vogue 1027

Vogue 1027 by Oscar de la Renta (ca. 1983) Model: Alva Chinn.

Oscar de la Renta caftan, spring 1982. Hand-painted silk crepe de chine. Kent State University Museum, Silverman/Rodgers Collection. Photo courtesy of the Kent State University Museum, photography by Erin Burns

Oscar de la Renta caftan, Spring 1982. Photo: Erin Burns. Image: Kent State University Museum via the de Young Museum.

Vogue 1644 is a wrap-bodice dress with bias bands defining the waist:

1980s Oscar de la Renta dress pattern Vogue 1644

Vogue 1644 by Oscar de la Renta (1985) Image via Etsy.

These fashion photos by Steven Meisel and Patrick Demarchelier show how well de la Renta was suited to the Eighties aesthetic:

Michelle Eabry wears Oscar de la Renta, photographed for Vogue by Steven Meisel

Oscar de la Renta dress, Vogue, May 1986. Photo: Steven Meisel. Model: Michelle Eabry. Image via The Fashion Spot.

Cindy Crawfrod wears Oscar de la Renta on the cover of British Vogue, spring 1987

Cindy Crawford wears Oscar de la Renta on the cover of British Vogue, April 1987. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier. Image: Vogue UK.

Here, radiating pleats and a bias front godet add volume and interest:

1980s Oscar de la Renta dress pattern Vogue 1997

Vogue 1997 by Oscar de la Renta (1987). Image: Etsy.

Don’t Vogue 2185’s ruffles take the cake?

Vogue 2185 by Oscar de la Renta (1988) Model: Alexandra Aubin. Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Next: Oscar de la Renta patterns from the 1990s and 2000s.

Red Carpet Fashion: Evening Pantsuits

February 23, 2016 § 5 Comments

Amy Poehler in Stella McCartney at the Golden Globes, January 2013. Image via bustle.com.

Will you be watching the Oscars on Sunday? In past years I’ve posted about goddess gowns and caftans. This year, a look at red carpet-worthy pantsuits.

Milena Canonero at the 87th Academy Awards, February 2015

Milena Canonero at the 87th Academy Awards, February 2015. Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty.

The Best Actress winners who have accepted their award in trousers can be counted on one hand: Barbra Streisand (1969, in Arnold Scaasi); Jane Fonda (1972, in Yves Saint Laurent); Sissy Spacek (1981); Jessica Tandy (1990, in Armani); and Jodie Foster (1992, also in Armani). But then, Katharine Hepburn never attended.

Jane Fonda in Yves Saint Laurent at the 44th Academy Awards, April 1972

Jane Fonda in Yves Saint Laurent at the 44th Academy Awards, April 1972. Image via tumblr.

Celebrity style icons Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, and Kate Moss started appearing on the red carpet in pantsuits in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Gwyneth Paltrow during 1996 MTV Video Music Awards in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

Gwyneth Paltrow in Gucci by Tom Ford at the MTV Video Music Awards, September 1996. Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc.

Angelina Jolie in Dolce & Gabbana at the Academy Awards, 2001

Angelina Jolie in Dolce & Gabbana at the 73rd Academy Awards, March 2001. Image via Glamour.

NEW YORK - MAY 01: Model Kate Moss and photographer Mario Testino (behind her) attend the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala: Anglomania at the Metropolitan Museum of Art May 1, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)

Kate Moss, in Burberry, with Mario Testino at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala, May 2006. Photo: Peter Kramer/Getty.

Recently, more and more female celebrities have been choosing tuxedos and jumpsuits for formal events.

Kirsten Dunst in Patrik Ervell, CFDA awards, June 2011. Image via elle.com.

Lupita Nyong'o in Veronica Beard at TIFF, September 2013

Lupita Nyong’o in Veronica Beard at the Toronto International Film Festival, September 2013. Image via Fashion Bomb Daily.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt attend the EE British Academy Film Awards 2014 at The Royal Opera House on February 16, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in Saint Laurent at the EE British Academy Film Awards, February 2014. Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage.

Anna Kendrick in Band of Outsiders at the Grammy Awards, February 2015. Image via elle.com.

Here are some patterns—now available in the shop—that would be perfect for your next gala appearance.

The year Jane Fonda won an Oscar for her performance in Klute, Vogue Patterns released this Valentino design for an evening jumpsuit and jacket:

1970s Valentino evening jumpsuit and jacket pattern - Vogue 2775

Vogue 2775 by Valentino (1972) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Calvin Klein had the Annie Hall look nailed before Woody Allen’s movie started filming (in spring, 1976). Vogue 1369, a designer wardrobe pattern, highlights the three-piece pantsuit:

1970s Calvin Klein pantsuit and wardrobe pattern - Vogue 1369

Vogue 1369 by Calvin Klein (1976) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Fast forward to 1999, when Alexander McQueen presented a futuristic millennium collection for Givenchy (Fall 1999 prêt-à-porter; post here). The long, detailed jacket was designed for shimmery fabric:

Vogue 2478 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy (2000) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

This tunic and pants ensemble is from Donna Karan’s Fall 2007 collection (as worn by Jessica Stam on the runway). The strapless tunic has outside darts, pockets, and foundation with padded bra and boning:

Vogue 1076 by Donna Karan (2008) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

For more red-carpet pantsuits, see Elle magazine’s slideshow here or this People article. Or see that handy viral infographic here.

We Can Be Heroes

October 30, 2015 § 9 Comments

Lynda Carter in the Wonder Woman tv show, 1975

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, 1975. Image: Warner Bros./Getty Images via IMDb.

Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman isn’t set to open until 2017, but audiences will get a glimpse of Gal Gadot as the Amazon princess in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). Marvel’s feminist superhero, Captain Marvel (originally Ms. Marvel) will also get her own movie in 2018. (Guardian story here.)

Panel from Ms. Marvel #1 (1977): Onlookers:

Panel from Ms. Marvel #1 (1977). Image via Talking Comics.

Since the 1930s and ’40s, when Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman made their first comic strip appearances, superheroes have occupied a special place in popular culture. The 2008 Costume Institute exhibit, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy, explored the influence of superhero costumes on fashion.

Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy exhibition catalogue by Andrew Bolton (with Michael Chabon)

Andrew Bolton with Michael Chabon, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008) Book design: Abbott Miller, John Kudos at Pentagram. Image via John Kudos.

With Halloween around the corner, here’s a look at licensed superhero costume patterns from the 1960s to today, with a focus on the place of gender in children’s costuming.

1960s

In 1966, the Batman television show premiered on ABC; just the year before, the 1950s television series Adventures of Superman, starring George Reeves as the Man of Steel, had returned to the airwaves in syndication.

Robin (Burt Ward) and Batman (Adam West) in Batman (1966) Image via Wikipedia.

From 1966, McCall’s 8398 is a pattern for “Girls’ or Boy’s Batman, Robin and Superman Official Costumes.” The pattern is copyright National Periodical Publications, Inc., an early version of DC Comics:

1960s Girls' or Boys' Batman, Robin and Superman official costumes McCall's 8398

McCall’s 8398 © National Periodical Publications, Inc., 1966

The Fall 1966 McCall’s Home Catalog promoted McCall’s 8398 with McCall’s 8562 as “Magical Costumes for the Wonderful World of Make-Believe.” The text reinforces the idea that these superhero costumes were intended for imaginative, active children, regardless of gender: “Now that active young lad or lass with the vivid imagination can be Batman, Robin or Superman at the switch of a colorful costume. Only McCall’s has official patterns for the costumes of these swashbuckling heroes of comic books and TV…” (click to enlarge):

McCalls Home catalogue, Fall/Winter 1966-67

McCall’s 8398 in McCall’s Home Catalog, Fall-Winter 1966-67.

1970s

In 1978, the Wonder Woman TV series was still running, and December saw the release of the first Superman movie starring Christopher Reeve.

Christopher Reeve as Superman, 1978

Christopher Reeve as Superman, 1978. Image: Keystone/Getty Images via IMDb.

That year, Simplicity released two patterns for children’s superhero costumes: Simplicity 8714, Batman, Robin, and Superman costumes for children and boys, and Simplicity 8720, Catwoman, Batgirl, and Wonder Woman costumes for girls. (‘Child’ often refers to unisex pattern sizing for younger children.) The introduction of female superhero costumes seems to have prompted a sex-division on the pattern envelopes—although the categories could always be subverted by individual children and their parents:

1970s children's Batman, Robin, and Superman costume pattern - Simplicity 8714

Simplicity 8714 (1978)

1970s Catwoman, Wonder Woman, and Batgirl costume pattern - Simplicity 8720

Simplicity 8720 (1978)

1980s

Later official superhero patterns tend to be movie or TV tie-ins. As in contemporary popular culture, the balance shifts toward male superheroes, but there’s also an oscillation between strict gender categories and more inclusive costuming. The 1980s were the decade of Superman and Supergirl: Supergirl opened in 1984, and there were three more Superman movies ending with Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).

Helen Slater as Supergirl, 1984

Helen Slater as Supergirl, 1984. Image via Pinterest.

In 1987, Butterick released two superhero patterns, both with iron-on transfers: a Superman and Supergirl play suit for small children (sizes 2 to 6X), and a Superman costume for men and boys. I couldn’t find a corresponding women’s and girls’ Supergirl pattern. The small children’s is a pyjama or jogging suit-style top and pants for stretch knits, with separate cape and skirt; the men’s and boys’ is a spandex stirrup jumpsuit and briefs:

Butterick 5862 (1987) Image via Etsy.

1980s Superman costume pattern - Butterick 5874

Butterick 5874 (1987)

(With thanks to Jan Lamm.)

Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) launched a new superhero franchise. Late 1980s Batman pattern Butterick 4201/6313, for men and boys, appears to have been timed to the Tim Burton film, but reflects the now-retro Batman. Like the Butterick Superman, it’s also a stirrup jumpsuit and briefs for spandex blends:

1980s Batman costume pattern - Butterick 6313

Butterick 6313 (1989) Image via Etsy.

1990s

Butterick licensed costumes from Batman Returns (1992) and Batman Forever (1995): Batman, Catwoman, and the Penguin, and Batman, Robin, and the Riddler. The Batman costumes reflect the movies’ increasingly hypermasculine armour, while Catwoman’s sexy, home-sewn catsuit is the only design for women and girls.

Batman Returns Batman costume pattern - Butterick 6377

Butterick 6377 (1992) Image via Etsy.

Batman Forever Batman costume pattern - Butterick 4172

Butterick 4172 (1995) Image via Etsy.

Butterick 6378 official Batman Returns Catwoman costume (1992) Image via Etsy.

Maybe because the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aren’t human, this Ninja Turtles pattern is gender-inclusive, labelled as for both girls and boys. The design is called a playsuit, not a costume (click the image for envelope back, or see it made up on flickr):

Girls' and boys' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle playsuit pattern - Butterick 5143

Butterick 5143 (1990) Image via Etsy.

On the other hand, this Captain Planet pattern for children and boys includes a grotesque ‘muscle’ suit. The second character is called Verminous Skumm:

1990s Captain Planet and Verminous Skumm costume pattern - McCall's 5642

McCall’s 5642 (1991) Image via Etsy.

’90s costume patterns start to show the influence of Japanese television shows—Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Masked Rider, and Sailor Moon. This Sailor Moon costume pattern came in children’s and girls’ sizes:

McCalls 7859

McCall’s 7859/P310 (1995) Image via eBay.

Marvel doesn’t seem to have ventured into pattern licensing until the 1990s, when Simplicity’s children’s costume patterns were gender-inclusive. Simplicity 7543 is a child’s Spiderman costume with sleeve webs made from fishnet:

1990s children's Spiderman costume pattern - Simplicity 7543

Simplicity 7543 (1991) Image via eBay.

Before the X-Men and Spider-Man movie franchises of the 2000s, there were ’90s animated TV shows based on the comics: X-Men from 1992 and Spider-Man from 1994. In the mid-1990s, Simplicity released several more Marvel patterns, all labelled as unisex Child’s costumes: Spider-Man and Venom (Simplicity 7241), Wolverine and Storm (Simplicity 7246), and Cyclops and Magneto (Simplicity 7251). Wolverine and Storm is my favourite:

1990s X-Men costume pattern - Wolverine and Storm - Simplicity 7246

Simplicity 7246 (1996) Image via Pinterest.

Current patterns

This fall, Simplicity released five licensed costume patterns for Marvel and DC superheroes. The women’s DC costumes are featured on the cover of the Halloween catalogue: Wonder Woman (Simplicity 1024) with Batgirl and Supergirl (Simplicity 1036):

Saturday Spooktacular! Simplicity costumes for Halloween 2015

Simplicity Costumes 2015. Image via Simplicity.

Women's Wonder Woman costume pattern - Simplicity 1024

Simplicity 1024 (2015)

The women’s costumes match those of the comic-book characters, but for the corresponding children’s pattern (Simplicity 1035), all three costumes have been altered to become knee-length, long-sleeved dresses. Batgirl loses her catsuit and Wonder Woman is virtually unrecognizable. What message does this send to children comparing the comic-book illustrations on the envelopes?

Simplicity 1035 (2015) Image via Etsy.

The two Marvel patterns, Captain America (Simplicity 1030) and Thor (Simplicity 1038), have a different format. Both from Marvel’s Avengers, the adults’ and children’s sizes share the same envelope, which includes an illustration of the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America down the left-hand side and a superimposed image of the pattern pieces with the text Sew It Yourself. Both are labelled as boys’ and men’s. The Thor should really be unisex if he’s now a woman:

Marvel Avengers Captain America costume pattern - Simplicity 1030/0225

Simplicity 1030/0225 (2015) Image via eBay.

(S0225 is the advance version; the S1030 envelope seems to have some strange retouching of the man’s crotch.)

Marvel Avengers Thor costume pattern - Simplicity 1038

Simplicity 1038 (2015) Image via Etsy.

It’s great to see Wonder Woman making a comeback, and the increasing popularity of costuming means we’re likely to see more licensed superhero patterns in the near future. Here’s hoping there will be a Black Widow or Mystique—and it’s not a dress.

Update: Simplicity released several new DC patterns for Fall 2016, including an official Joker pattern and three DC Bombshells patterns (Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Supergirl):

Official DC Comics The Joker costume pattern - Simplicity 8195

Simplicity 8195 (2016)

Official DC Comics Bombshells Wonder Woman pattern - Simplicity 8196

Simplicity 8196 (2016)

Official DC Comics Bombshells Batgirl pattern - Simplicity 8197

Simplicity 8197 (2016)

Official DC Comics Bombshells Supergirl pattern - Simplicity 8185

Simplicity 8185 (2016)

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Simplicity 8720 detail

(For more see Dorian Lynskey, Kapow! Attack of the feminist superheroes, and Jill Lepore, The Last Amazon.)

* As I wrote this post, spellcheck failed to recognize the names of female superheroes. Please fix this, WordPress!

More Bob Mackie Patterns

October 18, 2015 § 4 Comments

Cher in Bob Mackie on the cover of TIME magazine, 1975

Cher in Bob Mackie, TIME magazine, March 17, 1975. Photo: Richard Avedon. Image via TIME.

Speaking of Bob Mackie, I found some more Bob Mackie patterns from McCall’s.

Unhelpfully for collectors, vintage designer patterns were sometimes printed without the name on the envelope. This is the case with three Bob Mackie patterns, which were released earlier than those in my first Bob Mackie post. Like the other Mackie patterns, these three are also for stretch knits.

McCall’s 6575 and 6576 are slinky, disco halter dresses:

1970s Bob Mackie dress pattern - McCall's 6575

McCall’s 6575 by Bob Mackie (1979) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

1970s Bob Mackie dress pattern - McCall's 6576

McCall’s 6576 by Bob Mackie (1979) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

McCall’s 6577 is a pattern for a disco coverup, bodysuit, skinny pants, and handkerchief skirt. The contrast sash is also included:

McCall’s 6577 by Bob Mackie (1979) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Contemporary buyers would have ordered these designs from a catalogue complete with photos and the Bob Mackie logo, like this counter catalogue from September 1979 (click to enlarge):

McCall's 6600 by DD Dominick and McCall's 6575 by Bob Mackie in McCall's catalogue, September 1979

Designs by DD Dominick and Bob Mackie in McCall’s catalogue, September 1979. Image via eBay.

Bob Mackie patterns McCall's 6577 and 6576 in McCall's catalogue for September 1979

Bob Mackie designs in McCall’s catalogue, September 1979. Image via eBay.

Make with strategically placed sequins for the full Cher effect…

Star Wars Costume Patterns

October 9, 2015 § 8 Comments

Trisha Biggar's Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars

Trisha Biggar, Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars (Abrams, 2005) Image via Abrams.

Anticipation is high for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which opens in December. For fans of costume design, it helps that Michael Kaplan, who began his career with Bob Mackie and Blade Runner (1982), is designing the costumes for the new film. (Read Vanity Fair’s post here.) Here’s a look at Star Wars costume patterns.

Audrey Marnay in a costume from "Star Wars Couture," photographed by Irving Penn, 1999

“Star Wars Couture,” Vogue, April 1999. Model: Audrey Marnay. Photo: Irving Penn. Fashion editor: Phyllis Posnick. Image via the Fashion Spot.

Star Wars’ costumes must be among the most discussed in cinema. In 2005, LA’s Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) organized the exhibit Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars, accompanied by a book by Trisha Biggar, the costume designer for the prequel trilogy (Abrams, 2005; still in print). Last year saw the publication of Brandon Alinger’s Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy (Chronicle Books, 2014). And a new travelling exhibit, Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars and the Power of Costume, will open in New York next month.

John Mollo's final sketch for the costume of Obi-Wan Kenobi, 1976

John Mollo’s final sketch for the costume of Obi-Wan Kenobi, 1976. Image: Alinger/Chronicle Books.

John Mollo's design for the samurai warrior concept of Darth Vader, 1976

John Mollo’s design for the samurai warrior concept of Darth Vader, 1976. Image: Alinger/Chronicle Books.

John Mollo’s costumes for Star Wars, which won an Academy Award in 1978, have immortalized a certain strand of ’70s style. Compare Princess Leia’s iconic hooded dress with a 1976 Dior evening gown available as a Vogue pattern; both were made in white silk crepe de chine:

Karen Bjornson in Vogue 1553 by Dior, photographed by Chris von Wangenheim; Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia

Left: Karen Bjornson in Vogue 1553 by Dior, Vogue Patterns, November/December 1976. Photo: Chris von Wangenheim. Right: Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. Image via PatternVault on Twitter.

(I’ve made the Dior in red; photos coming soon.)

The year after The Empire Strikes Back (1980), McCall’s began releasing children’s costume patterns licensed with Lucasfilm.

McCall’s 7772 includes costumes for five characters from the first two films: Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Yoda, Jawa, and Lord Darth Vader. The Vader view calls for one single serving cereal box. I have several sizes available in the shop:

Vintage 1980s licensed Star Wars pattern - McCall's 7772

McCall’s 7772 (1981) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

After Return of the Jedi (1983), McCall’s released a children’s pattern for Ewok costumes. And not just any Ewok: the envelope back names “Wicket the Ewok”:

1980s children's Ewok costume pattern - McCalls 8731

McCall’s 8731 (1983) Image via Etsy.

Update: A 1984 McCall’s Crafts counter catalogue presents both patterns with Return of the Jedi backdrops. The Wicket costume is shown with the Ewok village celebration scene, and instead of a wampa cave, the earlier costumes have Jabba the Hutt:

Star Wars pattern McCall's 7772 in McCall's 1984 Crafts catalogue

“May the force be with you!”™ McCall’s 7772 in the McCall’s Crafts catalogue, 1984.

In the 1990s, Butterick took over the Lucasfilm licensing. Butterick 5174 and 5175, official Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker costumes for adults and children, included an order form for the wig and light sabre:

1990s Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker pattern - Butterick 5174

Butterick 5174 (1997) Image via Etsy.

1990s children's Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia pattern - Butterick 5175

Butterick 5175 (1997) Image via Etsy.

Butterick also released two official Darth Vader costume patterns for children and adults. Butterick 5176 and 5186 included instructions for breastplate appliqués made from coloured, foam sheet remnants, and an order form for the helmet and light sabre:

1990s boy's Darth Vader costume pattern - Butterick 5176

Butterick 5176 (1997) Image via Etsy.

1990s men's Darth Vader costume pattern - Butterick 5186

Butterick 5186 (1997) Image via Etsy.

There were only unofficial costume patterns based on the prequel trilogy. The year of Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), McCall’s released McCall’s 2433, a “Space Nomads” pattern for adults and children with a version of Sith warrior Darth Maul:

McCall's 1990s Space Nomads pattern, McCall's 2433

McCall’s 2433 (1999) Image via Etsy.

Based on costumes from Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), Simplicity 4433 includes Padmé Amidala’s combat suit, which doubles as an Aayla Secura costume (but two-sleeved and without the headpiece):

Andrea Schewe women's Star Wars combat pattern - Simplicity 4433

Simplicity 4433 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Image via Etsy.

Although Padmé’s Peacock dress was cut from Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), it was widely seen in promotional materials for the film:

Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) in the Peacock dress

Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) in the Peacock dress. Image via Pinterest.

Andrea Schewe produced two versions of the Peacock dress and headddress for children and adults, Simplicity 4426 and Simplicity 4443. The adults’ pattern includes both Padmé and Princess Leia, while the children’s has Leia, Padmé, and young Anakin and Obi-Wan:

Padmé, Leia, Anakin, and Jedi costume pattern - Simplicity 4426

Simplicity 4426 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Image via Etsy.

Women's Padmé and Leia costume pattern - Simplicity 4443

Simplicity 4443 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Image via Etsy.

Men’s costume pattern Simplicity 4450/059 includes Anakin and Obi-Wan Jedi costumes, together with an unidentifiable warlock:

Anakin Skywalker, Jedi tunic and cloak pattern - Simplicity 4450/0579

Simplicity 4450/0579 by Andrea Schewe (2005) Image via Etsy.

Based on Padmé Amidala’s nightgown in Revenge of the Sith, McCall’s 4995 is a dress with boned bodice, separate drape, chain or bead trim, and tassels made with three sizes of beads:

Padmé nightgown pattern - McCall's 4995

McCall’s 4995 (2005) Image via eBay.

Now that Disney owns Lucasfilm, perhaps there will be more licensed Star Wars patterns…

Update: Irving Penn’s 1999 editorial was not the first Star Wars-themed shoot in Vogue magazine: see Ishimuro’s “The ‘Force’ of Fur” in Vogue, November 1977. (Thanks to Devorah Macdonald for the reference.) Vogue recently posted some outtakes and reminiscences.

300073_orig

Simplicity 8074 (2016) Image via Andrea Schewe.

Update 2: Simplicity 8074, a Game of Thrones / Star Wars costume pattern (Sand Snakes / Rey) adapted by Andrea Schewe, suggests that Disney hasn’t licensed costumes from The Force Awakens (yet).

McCall's The Force Awakens patterns - M7421 and 7422 (Rey and Kylo Ren)

McCall’s 7421 and 7422 (2016) Images: McCall’s.

Update 3 (May 2016): McCall’s has released two patterns based on costumes from The Force Awakens: Rey (M7421) and Kylo Ren (M7422).

Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, photographed by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair, 2015

Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma in Vanity Fair, June 2015. Photo: Annie Leibovitz. Image via Vanity Fair.

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