Biba: McCall’s Patterns

1970s Biba cover - 19 magazine, January 1971 photographed by David Tack
A Biba look on the cover of 19 magazine, January 1971. Photo: David Tack.

I started this blog eight years ago this month. To celebrate, here’s a look at some all-but-forgotten licensing: patterns by Barbara Hulanicki for Biba.

Ingrid Boulting wearing Tiger Lily dress by Biba at Lacock Abbey, British Vogue, July 1970. Photo: Norman Parkinson
Ingrid Boulting wears Biba’s Tiger Lily dress at Lacock Abbey, British Vogue, July 1970. Photo: Norman Parkinson. Image: Iconic Images.

Biba might be the biggest brand you’ll never see on a pattern. Born in Warsaw, Biba founder Barbara Hulanicki (b. 1936) grew up in Palestine and Brighton, where she attended Brighton Art School. She worked as a fashion illustrator before starting the Biba label with her husband, Stephen “Fitz” Fitz-Simon. Sometimes called the first lifestyle brand, Biba was a runaway success in Swinging London, selling everything from cosmetics to couture.

Biba designs for Seventeen - McCall's Pattern no. 2725
Biba design for Seventeen, Brighton Museum, 2013. Image: The cherry blossom girl.

In 1970, Hulanicki licensed patterns with McCall’s as a way to launch her brand in North America. The main promotion was in Seventeen Magazine, as it was Seventeen editor Rosemary McMurtry who first approached Hulanicki about the idea. Hulanicki mentions the McCall’s deal in her memoirs, as well as The Biba Years, 1963-1975, which she co-wrote with Martin Pel, curator of Brighton’s Biba and Beyond: Barbara Hulanicki.

Book cover for Barbara Hulanicki and Martin Pel's The Biba Years, 1963-1975 (V&A 2014)
Barbara Hulanicki and Martin Pel, The Biba Years, 1963-1975 (V&A 2014) Image: V&A.
Biba label - the Costume Institute
Image: Costume Institute.

Around New Year’s, 1971, Seventeen readers could peruse the new Biba patterns in a dreamy Sarah Moon editorial shot in Paris. Among the models was Ingrid Boulting, the face of Biba Cosmetics (another Sarah Moon project). As Hulanicki writes in her memoir, From A to Biba, the setting for the shoot was the round tower of Au Printemps, the storied Paris department store. The printed fabrics — cotton satin, rayon crepe, cotton voile, twill, and broadcloth — were all Tootal for Biba, and available at retailers like Macy’s in New York. (More at Sweet Jane. Seventeen scans courtesy of Musings from Marilyn.)

Sarah Moon's "Biba Boutique" McCall's editorial in Seventeen Magazine, Jan. 1971
“Biba Boutique,” Seventeen Magazine, January 1971. Photos: Sarah Moon. Images: Musings from Marilyn.
Sarah Moon's "Biba Boutique" McCall's editorial in Seventeen Magazine, Jan. 1971
“Biba Boutique,” Seventeen Magazine, January 1971. Photos: Sarah Moon. Images: Musings from Marilyn.
Sarah Moon's "Biba Boutique" McCall's editorial in Seventeen Magazine, Jan. 1971
“Biba Boutique,” Seventeen Magazine, January 1971. Photos: Sarah Moon. Images: Musings from Marilyn.

The patterns were even covered more than once in Women’s Wear Daily.

Robert Melendez Biba illustration in Women's Wear Daily, 1971
From “Viva Biba,” WWD, January 5, 1971. Illustration: Robert Melendez. Image: Shrimpton Couture.

The designs consisted of a top and skirt, separates and a hat, a long-sleeved dress and short-sleeved coatdress, and a midi or maxi dress, all in junior sizes only. Two included a matching choker. Customers could see the Biba logo in McCall’s retail catalogues, but the pattern envelopes give no indication they’re Biba designs.

1970s Biba pattern McCall's 2725
McCall’s 2725 by Biba (1971)
1970s Biba pattern McCall's 2728
McCall’s 2728 by Biba (1971)
1970s Biba pattern McCall's 2746
McCall’s 2746 by Biba (1971)
1970s Biba pattern McCall's 2747
McCall’s 2747 by Biba (1971)

McCall’s Pattern Fashions featured the Biba patterns in a four-page illustrated portfolio called “Seventeen Magazine Pattern Selections.” The write-up emphasizes Biba’s novelty in North America: Now Seventeen Magazine brings Biba to America … You, too, can be a Biba girl without crossing the Atlantic.

Seventeen Magazine Pattern Selections: Now Seventeen Magazine brings Biba to America in an exclusive group of McCall's patterns
Biba patterns in McCall’s Pattern Fashions, Spring 1971.
Seventeen Magazine Pattern Selections: You, too, can be a Biba girl without crossing the Atlantic
Biba patterns in McCall’s Pattern Fashions, Spring 1971.

Curiously, the Biba patterns aren’t in McCall’s back index, but one of them appears in this croquet-themed textiles ad — at left, in printed Dacron crepe:

McCall's Pattern Fashions Spring 1971 Klopman
Klopman advertisement in McCall’s Pattern Fashions, Spring 1971.

The peplum blouse with short “mushroom” sleeves (McCall’s 2725, view B) is very similar to a Biba evening suit seen in a 19 cover portfolio by David Tack. (Cover at top of post.) Like Seventeen, the British teen magazine also published its feature around the time of New Year’s, 1971.

Have you sewn any of the Biba patterns?

David Tack, Biba screen-printed satin evening suit in 19 magazine, January 1971
Biba screen-printed satin evening suit in 19 magazine, January 1971. Photo: David Tack. Image: Vintage-a-Peel.

Mary Quant: Butterick Patterns

Tania Mallet wears Mary Quant and James Wedge on the cover of British Vogue, October 1, 1963
Tania Mallet wears Mary Quant (hat by James Wedge) on the cover of British Vogue, October 1, 1963. Photo: Brian Duffy. Image: eBay.

Nothing says Swinging London like Mary Quant. The pioneer of the Chelsea Look will receive a major retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2019. (An earlier exhibit, Manchester Art Gallery’s Mary Quant: Fashion Icon, had to close early due to conservation issues.)

Design for a cowl neck minidress with mustard yellow tights by Mary Quant, about 1967, London. Museum no. E.525-1975. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Mary Quant sketch, ca. 1967. Image: V&A.

The V&A is seeking vintage Quant for the show, including garments — or even photos of garments — made with Mary Quant patterns. See here for more details, or email the curators at maryquant@vam.ac.uk. Update: submissions are now closed.

Ensemble of bolero waistcoat and skirt, Mary Quant, about 1964. Museum no. T.34-2013. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Celia Hammond and Jean Shrimpton in Mary Quant, ca. 1964. Photo: John French. Image: V&A.
Mary Quant London - Made in England for Lord & Taylor 100% PVC label at the Costume Institute
Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Butterick licensed Mary Quant patterns from the mid-’60s to the early ’70s. (See my Mad Men-era post.)

Mary Quant pantdress pattern 4779 in the Butterick retail catalog, November 1969
Right: Mary Quant pantdress pattern 4779 in the Butterick retail catalogue, November 1969. Image: Etsy.

For knitters, there were also ultra-mod knitting patterns. Some of these vintage booklets are available as official reissues, like these ones from Mary Maxim. (More on Ravelry.)

1960s Patons Courtelle knitting patterns by Mary Quant
1960s Patons Courtelle knitting patterns by Mary Quant. Images: Mary Maxim.

Mary Quant and her husband were profiled in Life magazine as early as 1960. (View story here.)

Mary Quant and Alexander Plunkett-Greene photographed on Park Avenue by Ken Heyman for Life magazine, 1960
Mary Quant and Alexander Plunket Greene on Park Avenue, LIFE, December 5, 1960. Photo: Ken Heyman. Image: LIFE archive.

For his 1963 Life feature on the Chelsea Look, Norman Parkinson photographed Melanie Hampshire and Jill Kennington in these Mary Quant dresses:

Melanie Hampshire and Jill Kennington photographed by Norman Parksinson in Mary Quant's Bank of England and Eton striped wool dresses, LIFE magazine, 1963
Melanie Hampshire and Jill Kennington in Mary Quant’s Bank of England and Eton dresses, LIFE, October 18, 1963. Photo: Norman Parkinson. Image: Iconic Images.

Butterick released its first Mary Quant patterns in fall, 1964. Here’s Celia Hammond on the cover of the retail catalogue:

Butterick catalogue cover showing 3288 by Mary Quant - October 1964
Butterick 3288 by Mary Quant. Butterick catalogue, October 1964. Photo: Terence Donovan. Model: Celia Hammond. Image: eBay.

The Butterick Home Catalog hailed Quant as the originator of the Chelsea Look.

London: Mary Quant. A new group of Butterick designs by the originator of the Chelsea Look and winner o the International Fashion Award for Great Britain. Butterick Fall 1964 Quant
Mary Quant in the Butterick Home Catalog, Fall 1964.

The earliest Mary Quant patterns pre-date the Young Designer line. This dress pattern even includes the rosette:

1960s Mary Quant dress pattern Butterick 3499
Butterick 3499 by Mary Quant (1965) Image: PatternVault shop.

British copies of this dress pattern say “featured in Queen magazine.” Jill Kennington wore this and other Butterick Young Designers in what was billed as “The Queen’s first ever make-it-yourself fashion.”

1960s Mary Quant dress pattern Butterick 3716
Butterick 3716 by Mary Quant (ca. 1965)
1960s Jean Muir of Jane & Jane and Mary Quant dress patterns Butterick 3722, 3707, 3716
“How to be a self made sensation.” Right, Jill Kennington in Butterick 3716 by Mary Quant. Queen magazine, August 11, 1965. Image: eBay.

Here Moyra Swan models a mod scooter dress. Suggested fabrics include linen, jersey, lightweight wool, and knits.

1960s Mary Quant dress pattern Butterick 4578
Butterick 4578 by Mary Quant (ca. 1967) Image: PatternVault shop.

This jumpsuit or playsuit came with a matching mini skirt — “the latest put-togethers”:

Butterick 5404 by Mary Quant (1969) Image: Etsy.

What to wear with a Mary Quant mini dress? Why, go-go boots, of course:

1960s Mary Quant dress pattern Butterick 5475
Butterick 5475 by Mary Quant (1969)

By 1970, a Quant jumpsuit was more fluid, with a pointed collar; this pattern also includes a maxi-length cardigan. The catalogue gives a better view of the inflatable chair:

1970s Mary Quant jumpsuit and cardigan pattern Butterick 5857
Butterick 5857 by Mary Quant (1970) Image: Etsy.
Mary Quant's Butterick 5857 jumpsuit in the Fall 1970 catalogue
Mary Quant’s Butterick 5857 jumpsuit in the Fall 1970 catalogue. Image: tumblr.

Mary Quant in a more romantic mode means a sheer tunic worn with knickers. View B is a maxi dress.

1970s Mary Quant pattern Butterick 6256
Butterick 6256 by Mary Quant (ca. 1971)

After 1971 or so, Butterick Young Designer patterns had illustrations, not photos. This Mary Quant dress dates to circa early ’73.

1970s Mary Quant dress pattern Butterick 6916
Butterick 6916 by Mary Quant (ca. 1973) Image: Etsy.

Have you made anything from a Mary Quant pattern?

Maren Greve in Butterick 4128 by Mary Quant, 1966
Butterick 4128 by Mary Quant, Butterick catalogue, October 1966. Model: Maren Greve. Image: Instagram.

Ralph Lauren: 50 Years

Linda Evangelista in Ralph Lauren, Vogue, September 1991
Linda Evangelista in Ralph Lauren, Vogue, September 1991. Photo: Arthur Elgort. Editor: Grace Coddington. Image: TFS.

Tonight at New York Fashion Week, Ralph Lauren celebrates his company’s 50th anniversary. Here’s a look at highlights of Ralph Lauren patterns from the ’70s to the ’90s.

Ralph Lauren: 50 Years (Rizzoli book)
Ralph Lauren: 50 Years (Rizzoli, 2018) Image: Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren started out in menswear, and Vogue Patterns’ first licensing with the brand was for men’s designs. The company released its first Polo by Ralph Lauren patterns in the summer of 1975.

1970s Polo Ralph Lauren men's patterns Vogue 1237 and 1238 spring 1975 photographed by Steve Horn
Vogue 1237 and 1238 by Polo Ralph Lauren in Vogue Patterns, May/June 1975. Photos: Steve Horn. Image: Make Mine Vogue.

That’s Polo Ralph Lauren on the right in Vogue Patterns’ American Bicentennial issue:

America the Beautifuls 1976
America the Beautifuls. Vogue Patterns, January/February 1976. Image: Etsy.

This Polo trench is classic for any gender:

1970s Polo Ralph Lauren menswear pattern Vogue 1581
Vogue 1581 by Polo by Ralph Lauren (ca. 1977)

Vogue’s licensing of Ralph Lauren women’s wear began in 1979. The earliest Ralph Lauren women’s patterns are for Annie Hall and Western looks like those shown in his Fall 1981 Santa Fe collection—prairie skirts, fringe, and serapes worn with cowboy boots and concho belts.

Clotilde in Ralph Lauren’s Fall 1981 ad campaign. Photo: Bruce Weber. Image: Ralph Lauren.
1981 Santa Fe Ralph Lauren dress pattern Vogue 2881
Vogue 2881 by Ralph Lauren (ca. 1981) Image: eBay.

Ralph Lauren’s Spring 1984 Safari collection is said to have been inspired by Out of Africa, perhaps with a dash of Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Clotilde in Ralph Lauren’s Spring 1984 ad campaign. Photo: Bruce Weber. Image: Pinterest.
Brooke Shields in Ralph Lauren / Ralph Lauren for Hat Attack, Vogue, May 1984
Brooke Shields in Ralph Lauren / Ralph Lauren for Hat Attack, Vogue, May 1984. Photo: Richard Avedon. Image: Pinterest.
Vogue 1547 by Ralph Lauren (1985) Image: Etsy.
Ariane Koizumi photographed by Elisabeth Novick in Vogue 1547 by Ralph Lauren, 1985
Ariane Koizumi in Vogue 1547 by Ralph Lauren, Vogue, May 1985. Photo: Elisabeth Novick. Image: TFS.

Late ’80s Vogue Career designs by Ralph Lauren feature British model Saffron Aldridge, then the face of the brand.

1980s Ralph Lauren career romper or dress pattern Vogue 2255 feat. Saffron Aldridge
Vogue 2255 by Ralph Lauren (1989) Image: Etsy.

Tartan was one of the main takeaways from Ralph Lauren’s Fall 1991 collection. (As L’Officiel observed, “For Ralph Lauren, tartan isn’t a fashion, it’s a lifestyle.”) Vogue released two patterns from this collection, a dress and trouser ensemble.

1990s Ralph Lauren pattern Vogue 2780
Vogue 2780 by Ralph Lauren (1991)
Vogue 2782 by Ralph Lauren (1991) Image: eBay.

Although the envelope for the dress shows it in solid red, the tartan looks had pride of place on the holiday covers, both Vogue Patterns Magazine and the December catalogue.

VPM NovDec1991 Great Scot! Ralph Lauren embraces the youthful spirit of tartans to balance the bold shape of a fit and flare jacket. Wear it with his elegant slim pant to create the season’s perfect ensemble
Cathy Fedoruk in Ralph Lauren, Vogue Patterns, November/December 1991. Photo: Christopher Micaud. Image: Etsy.
Vogue 2782 by Ralph Lauren, Vogue Patterns catalogue, December 1991
Ralph Lauren dress on the cover of the Vogue Patterns catalogue, December 1991. Image: Etsy.

The tartan pieces had already been promoted that same season in the Fall ’91 advertising campaign and a Grace Coddington / Linda Evangelista cover and editorial (“A Shot of Scotch”) in Vogue’s September issue.

Ralph Lauren ad campaign, Fall 1991. Model: Kim Nye. Image: Pinterest.
“A Shot of Scotch,” September 1991. Photo: Arthur Elgort. Editor: Grace Coddington. Image: Pinterest.

Some later covers showing Ralph Lauren in a less WASP-y mode:

Eva Green in Ralph Lauren photographed for L'Officiel by Satoshi Saïkusa, 2011
Eva Green in Ralph Lauren, L’Officiel, Dec/Jan 2011-2012. Photo: Satoshi Saïkusa. Editor: Monica Pillosio.
Rooney Mara in Ralph Lauren FW 2011
Rooney Mara in Ralph Lauren, Vogue, November 2011. Photo: Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. Editor: Tonne Goodman.

Inspired by Lost Horizon

Olivia Hussey in Lost Horizon (1973) Image: Pinterest.

Olivia Hussey has an autobiography out, reminding us of a legendary bomb: the musical Lost Horizon. Naturally, there was a pattern tie-in.

Ross Hunter’s Lost Horizon (1973) was adapted from James Hilton’s bestselling novel about Shangri-La, with costumes by the great Jean Louis.

Lost Horizon illustrated movie poster by Howard Terpning
Lost Horizon poster by Howard Terpning. Image: eBay.

There had been another Lost Horizon, in the 1930s, but it didn’t have music by Burt Bacharach.

Lost Horizon original soundtrack on vinyl - music by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David
Lost Horizon original soundtrack LP. Image: eBay.

McCall’s released at least ten patterns in its Lost Horizon-inspired series. The film opened in March, but the patterns came out later in the year. Two Carefree and Extra-Carefree styles from the series in the Fall 1973 Carefree catalogue:

3739 and 3700 - vintage McCall's patterns inspired by Lost Horizon
Lost Horizon-inspired designs in McCall’s Carefree Home Catalog, Fall 1973. Image: Etsy.

The pattern envelopes bear a tiny version of the film graphics.

Did the hippie trail reach Tibet? Some of the Lost Horizon-inspired patterns look like contemporary western clothing, but most nod to Jean Louis’ fantasia of traditional Tibetan dress, textiles, and embellishment.

1970s McCall's 3701
McCall’s 3701 (1973) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.
McCalls 3679
McCalls 3679 (1973) Image: Etsy.
McCall's 3684
McCall’s 3684 (1973) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.
1970s McCall's 3697
McCall’s 3697 (1973) Image: Etsy.

Of the two designs for men and women, this robe was the most popular. The men’s and women’s caftan came with its own embroidery transfers.

M3738A
McCall’s 3738 (1973) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.
1970s Lost Horizon inspired men's and women's caftan pattern, McCall's 3685
McCall’s 3685 (1973) Image: Etsy.

Unfortunately there’s no pattern for Hussey’s saffron robes.

Olivia Hussey's saffron robes in Lost Horizon (1973) via the Fuck Yeah Olivia Hussey tumblr
Olivia Hussey’s saffron robes in Lost Horizon (1973) Image: Pinterest.

McCall’s Pattern Fashions, Summer 1971

Lauren Hutton in two-piece bathing suit McCall's 9704 - McCall's Pattern Fashions, Summer 1971
Lauren Hutton on the cover of McCall’s Pattern Fashions, Summer 1971. Photo: Myron Miller.

Lauren Hutton frolics in Martinique for McCall’s seasonal pattern book. Hutton wears two-piece swimsuit McCall’s 9704 in orange cotton velour.

More beachwear: Heat Wave! and vintage designer swimwear.

McCall’s x Canada Dry, 1971

McCalls 2761 (1971)
McCall’s 2761 (1971) Canada Dry “Pounds-Thinner” pattern.

Happy Canada Day! In celebration, here’s a Canada Dry pattern from McCall’s.

Established in Toronto in 1904, by the ’70s Canada Dry was owned by Norton Simon, which was also McCall’s parent company. Canada Dry’s new low-calorie, sugar-free sodas showed a woman in a black leotard to match the branding for McCall’s Pounds-Thinner pattern line. New in 1971, the line is problematic today for its body-negativity.

This Canada Dry pattern envelope is a special alternate. (Compare the more often seen catalogue version.) Instead of the usual Pounds-Thinner branding, there’s a charming Biba-style illustration in colours to match the soda packaging.