Happy birthday to Bob Mackie, who turns 80 today!
Celebrate with some of my posts on Bob Mackie’s McCall’s patterns:
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.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Update: submissions are now closed.
Butterick licensed Mary Quant patterns from the mid-’60s to the early ’70s. (See my Mad Men-era post.)
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.)
Mary Quant and her husband were profiled in Life magazine as early as 1960. (View story here.)
For his 1963 Life feature on the Chelsea Look, Norman Parkinson photographed Melanie Hampshire and Jill Kennington in these Mary Quant dresses:
Butterick released its first Mary Quant patterns in fall, 1964. Here’s Celia Hammond on the cover of the retail catalogue:
The Butterick Home Catalog hailed Quant as the originator of the Chelsea Look.
The earliest Mary Quant patterns pre-date the Young Designer line. This dress pattern even includes the rosette:
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.”
Here Moyra Swan models a mod scooter dress. Suggested fabrics include linen, jersey, lightweight wool, and knits.
This jumpsuit or playsuit came with a matching mini skirt — “the latest put-togethers”:
What to wear with a Mary Quant mini dress? Why, go-go boots, of course:
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:
Mary Quant in a more romantic mode means a sheer tunic worn with knickers. View B is a maxi dress.
After 1971 or so, Butterick Young Designer patterns had illustrations, not photos. This Mary Quant dress dates to circa early ’73.
Have you made anything from a Mary Quant pattern?
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 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.
That’s Polo Ralph Lauren on the right in Vogue Patterns’ American Bicentennial issue:
This Polo trench is classic for any gender:
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.
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.
Late ’80s Vogue Career designs by Ralph Lauren feature British model Saffron Aldridge, then the face of the brand.
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.
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.
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.
Some later covers showing Ralph Lauren in a less WASP-y mode:
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.
There had been another Lost Horizon, in the 1930s, but it didn’t have music by Burt Bacharach.
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:
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.
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.
Unfortunately there’s no pattern for Hussey’s saffron robes.
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.
Today is World No Tobacco Day. Here’s a look at a Virginia Slims ad that ran in Vogue Patterns magazine.
The mid-’70s ad—with the famous You’ve come a long way, baby slogan—contrasts the fashionable, contemporary Cheryl Tiegs with the Edwardian “Mrs. Florine Knauff,” caught smoking during a fox hunt. Along the lower left-hand side, the caption reads, Fashions: Vogue Patterns.
Doesn’t Tiegs’ green dress look a lot like Emanuel Ungaro’s goddess gown?
The popular design was reissued in 2001 (as V7521).
A handful of ’70s Virginia Slims ads credit Vogue Patterns, most notably this Yves Saint Laurent couture pyjama, as worn by Beverly Johnson:
There were even promotional Virginia Slims sewing kits. This one contains FDR-made upholstery needles:
Click the Beverly Johnson ad to learn more about SRITA, Stanford’s tobacco advertising project.