Goodbye Donna Karan, Hello Urban Zen?

July 6, 2016 § 8 Comments

Ingrid Sischy, Donna Karan New York (Assouline 2005) Image via Pinterest.

Have you heard? Vogue’s Donna Karan and DKNY patterns will no longer be available after next Wednesday, July 13th. According to the McCall Pattern Company, the licensor of the Donna Karan trademarks [the LVMH-owned Gabrielle Studio Inc.] has decided to end all pattern licensing. (Source: Facebook.)

DonnaKaran_summer2016

Image: voguepatterns.com.

Vogue Patterns has been publishing Donna Karan patterns since 1987. The company added DKNY patterns in 1989.

Vogue Patterns magazine, Autumn 1987

Donna Karan patterns on the cover of Vogue Patterns magazine, Autumn 1987. Image via eBay.

DKNY patterns 2373, 2371, 2375, 2372, 2376 - Vogue Patterns catalogue, November 1989

DKNY patterns on the Vogue Patterns catalogue cover, November 1989. Image via eBay.

The end of both licenses makes the Spring 2016 releases the last DKNY and Donna Karan patterns.

A dress in DKNY Pre-Fall 2013 - Vogue American Designer 1488

Vogue 1488 by DKNY is based on a dress from the Pre-Fall 2013 collection. Image: vogue.com.

A dress from Donna Karan Spring 2014, the original for Vogue American Designer 1489 (2016)

The original for Vogue 1489 in Donna Karan’s Spring 2014 collection. Model: Kati Nescher. Image: vogue.com.

Donna Karan announced her departure from Donna Karan International just over a year ago, saying she means to focus on her new, privately owned company, Urban Zen. Parent company LVMH will not be hiring a replacement. Instead, LVMH will be developing DKNY, which is designed by Public School’s Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne. (See Vanessa Friedman and Jacob Bernstein, “Karan Leaving Brand That Carries Her Name.”)

After thirty years of Vogue patterns—closer to forty, if we count her work at Anne Klein—Karan’s absence will be keenly felt. But could she return soon with Urban Zen patterns? Under her agreement with LVMH, Urban Zen’s “distribution … [can]not compete with any of the Donna Karan brands.” (See Donna Fenn’s interview for Fortune.) This could account for the unprecedented end-date for the Donna Karan and DKNY patterns, just in time for the Fall 2016 pattern launch. Update (July 7): the Fall 2016 patterns were released today, too early to avoid a distribution conflict. Perhaps for Winter 2016?

It would certainly be in keeping with Karan’s ethos if July 14th marked not just an end to the old pattern licensing, but also a new beginning. As her program notes always read, To be continued

Urban Zen, Modern Souls collection

Urban Zen, Modern Souls collection. Image: Urban Zen.

Carmen Dell’Orefice

June 3, 2016 § 5 Comments

Carmen Dell’ Orefice in Ceil Chapman, Vogue, 1949. Photo: Norman Parkinson. Image via Norman Parkinson Archive.

Carmen Dell’Orefice turns eighty-five today.

Carmen Dell'Orefice photographed by Erwin Blumenfeld for Vogue, October 1947 (British Vogue, Feb. 1948)

Vogue, October 15, 1947. Photo: Erwin Blumenfeld. Image via Pinterest.

Often called the world’s oldest working model, Carmen Dell’Orefice (b. 1931) was discovered at thirteen on a New York City bus; at sixteen she had her first Vogue cover. In 2011, the London College of Fashion devoted an exhibition to her modelling work, Carmen: A Life In Fashion.

Vogue, May 1, 1951. Photo: Norman Parkinson. Via Pinterest

Carmen Dell'Orefice photographed by John Rawlings for Vogue, spring 1955

Vogue, May 1955. Photo: John Rawlings. Image via Pinterest.

Carmen Dell'Orefice in a bathing cap, photographed by Gleb Derujinsky for Harper's Bazaar, May 1958

Harper’s Bazaar, May 1958. Photo: Gleb Derujinsky. Image via Pinterest.

Dell’Orefice’s work with New York pattern companies may be seen in postwar publications from Vogue, McCall’s, and Simplicity, as well as more recent Vogue patterns.

A Richard Rutledge editorial for Vogue Pattern Book features the young Dell’Orefice in new patterns for spring, 1949 (jacket Vogue 6716 and blouses Vogue 6065 and Vogue 6707, all with skirt Vogue 6708):

VPB AprMay1949 p28top

Vogue 6716 and 6708 in Vogue Pattern Book, April/May 1949. Photo: Richard Rutledge.

VPB AprMay 1949 p28

Vogue 6065 and 6708 in Vogue Pattern Book, April/May 1949. Photo: Richard Rutledge.

VPB AprMay 1949 p28a

Vogue 6707 and 6708 in Vogue Pattern Book, April/May 1949. Photo: Richard Rutledge.

On this McCall Pattern Book cover from Summer, 1957, she models McCall’s 4095 and 4097:

McCalls PB Summer 1957

McCall’s Pattern Book, Summer 1957. Image: eBay.

Here, Dell’Orefice poses in an all-red ensemble for the cover of Simplicity magazine, Fall 1958:

Carmen Dell'Orefice on the cover of Simplicity magazine, fall 1958

Simplicity magazine, Fall-Winter 1958. Image: eBay.

Here she wears gown Vogue 9827 on the cover of Vogue Pattern Book’s holiday issue:

Carmen Dell'Orefice wears Vogue 9827 - Vogue Pattern Book, December/January 1959-1960

Vogue 9827 on the cover of Vogue Pattern Book, December/January 1959-1960. Image via Make Mine Vogue.

1980s

After a break, Dell’Orefice returned to modelling in the late 1970s. On these two patterns from the ’80s, she wears Vogue 8195, a caftan-style dress, and Arlene Dahl gown Vogue 8521 in gold lamé:

Carmen Dell'Orefice on a 1980s Vogue pattern, V8195

Vogue 8195 (ca. 1982) Image via the Vintage Pattern Wiki.

1980s Arlene Dahl dress pattern featuring Carmen Dell'Orefice, Vogue 8521

Vogue 8521 by Arlene Dahl (ca. 1980s) Image via Etsy.

1990s

In the later 1990s, Dell’Orefice posed for many patterns in The Vogue Woman line. Vogue 1972 is a seasonless wardrobe pattern, while Vogue 9821 is a dress and tunic suitable for petites:

Carmen Dell'Orefice models 1990s The Vogue Woman pattern Vogue 1972

Vogue 1972 (1997) Image via Etsy.

Carmen Dell'Orefice models 1990s Vogue 9821

Vogue 9821 (1998) Image via eBay.

Happy birthday, Ms. Dell’Orefice!

Carmen Dell'Orefice on the runway, Florence 2011

Alberta Ferretti fashion show, Florence, 2011. Image: Getty / Vogue Italia.

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.

Season of the Witch: Gothic Patterns

April 30, 2016 § 3 Comments

Dracula’s brides in Dracula (1931)

Dracula’s brides (Dorothy Tree, Geraldine Dvorak, and Cornelia Thaw) in Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931) Image: tumblr.

Happy Walpurgisnacht! On the eve of the feast of St. Walpurga, here’s a look at gothic sewing patterns.

Recent fashion exhibits have placed the gothic under increasing scrutiny. In 2008, the Museum at FIT presented Gothic: Dark Glamour. In 2014, the Costume Institute had Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire. Now there’s Gothic to Goth: Romantic Era Fashion and Its Legacy, an exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, accompanied by a catalogue by curator Lynne Z. Bassett and a talk by Valerie Steele. For more on the show, see Susan Hodara, “The (Forever) New Romantics.”

Gothic to Goth

Lynne Zacek Bassett, Gothic to Goth: Romantic Era Fashion & Its Legacy (Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 2016) Image: the Wadsworth.

1980s

With the advent of goth—or the New Romantics—in the late 1970s, fashion in a gothic mode began to show the influence of both romanticism and contemporary subculture. Nina Ricci’s romanticism turned dark in the early 1980s. I like to picture Vogue 2582 with granny boots and Siouxsie Sioux hair:

Detail, Vogue 2582 by Nina Ricci (1980) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Vogue 2562 by Nina Ricci (1980) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Vogue 2604, a floor-length strapless gown with attached sleeves, has a more Countess Bathory feel. The ruffle-trimmed version of Vogue 2604 was featured on the cover of Vogue Patterns’ holiday issue:

Vogue 2604 (1980)

Vogue 2604 by Nina Ricci (1980) Image: eBay.

Vogue 2604 by Nina Ricci on the cover of Vogue Patterns NovDec 1980Image: eBay. 2604

Vogue 2604 by Nina Ricci on the cover of Vogue Patterns, November/December 1980. Image: eBay.

These early ’80s editorial photos convey the dark romantic mood:

Cf. 2604. L'Officiel Sept 1980 no 665

“Fascination du Noir”: Nina Ricci couture in L’Officiel, September 1980. Photo: Chris Simpson. Image: jalougallery.com.

LOfficiel Aug1982 no684_Turbeville1

Nina Ricci Boutique and Balenciaga in L’Officiel, August 1982. Photo: Deborah Turbeville. Image: jalougallery.com.

Later in the decade, the fashionable oversized silhouette and low hemlines could express a moody romanticism. From Esprit, Simplicity 6978 is a loose jacket and long, full skirt. Shown in black, the ensemble is very Lydia from Beetlejuice:

1980s Esprit pattern - Simplicity 6978

Simplicity 6978 by Esprit (1985) Image: Etsy.

Lydia Deetz (Winona Ryder) in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice (1988) Image: Goth Cupcake.

1990s

Judging from Vogue’s September issues for 1993, Fall ’93 marked a return to the lusher side of romanticism.

VogueParisUSUKSept1993

Vogue Paris, American Vogue, and British Vogue covers, September 1993. Photos: Max Vadukul, Steven Meisel, and Mario Testino. Models: Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington. Images: Shrimpton Couture and The Fashion Spot.

Donna Karan’s Fall collection (presented just days after Eiko Ishioka won the costume design Oscar for Bram Stoker’s Dracula) featured lace accents, choker and cross accessories, and lots of black. Vogue 1293 is a long dress consisting of a body with attached, high-waisted skirt:

Early 1990s Donna Karan dress pattern - Vogue 1293

Vogue 1293 by Donna Karan (1993)

Similar Donna Karan dresses opened a British Vogue editorial shot by Mario Testino at Bolton Abbey, Derbyshire (headpieces by Slim Barrett):

"Courtly gestures" Perfectly plain: the right dresses have a top with the fit and ease of a body, and a dramatic bolt of fabric below the waist. High-neck, Empire-line dress in chestnut-brown velvet, opposite, left. Right, slash-neck wool gauze dress. Both by Donna Karan. (Headdresses Slim Barrett)

Nadja Auermann and Cecilia Chancellor wear Donna Karan in “Courtly Gestures,” British Vogue, December 1993. Photo: Mario Testino. Editor: Jayne Pickering. Image: The Fashion Spot.

This cold-shoulder gown must be from the same collection:

Donna Karan YSL feathers.

Poppy Lloyd wears Donna Karan (Yves Saint Laurent feathers), L’Officiel, December 1993. Photo: Nancy Le Vine. Image: jalougallery.com.

In the later 1990s, Anna Sui showed a fall collection inspired by goth subculture. From Fall 1997, Vogue 2072 combines a historicizing, Vivienne Westwood-style mini-crini with club-kid accessories. The dress was worn by the young Sofia Coppola (previously seen in my Anna Sui series and ’90s goth post):

1990s Anna Sui goth collection pattern - Vogue 2072

Vogue 2072 by Anna Sui (1997) Dress, top and gloves.

Karen Elson and Tasha Tilberg in goth looks from Anna Sui FW1997

Anna Sui FW 1997 collection. Models: Karen Elson, Tasha Tilberg. Images: Bolton, Anna Sui and firstVIEW.

Sofia Coppola wears goth Anna Sui in Spur magazine, October 1997

Sofia Coppola in Spur, October 1997. Photo: Satoshi Saikusa. Image: Bolton, Anna Sui.

Another element in the romantic/gothic repertoire is tzigane or ‘gypsy’ looks. From Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche for Spring 1999, Vogue 2330 is a long, flowing, off-the-shoulder dress. The envelope shows a mourning-appropriate mauve, but it was also shown in sheer black:

Vogue 2330

Vogue 2330 by Yves Saint Laurent (1999)

Image: firstVIEW.

Model: Astrid Muñoz. Image: firstVIEW.

Spring 1999 was Yves Saint Laurent’s last collection for Rive Gauche, and Mario Sorrenti’s valedictory advertising campaign for that season references great European paintings. Here the archetypically enigmatic Mona Lisa, dressed in black Rive Gauche, poses with a male model with Asian tattoos:

Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche ad campaign, Spring 1999. Photo: Mario Sorrenti. Model: Noot Seear. Image: Oystermag.

Finally, in the late 1990s, Simplicity licensed designs from Begotten, a historically-inspired clothing line designed by Dilek Atasu. The patterns included a cape (S8987) and men’s poet shirt (S8615). Simplicity 8619, an empire gown with optional lower sleeve flounce, channels Mary Shelley:

1990s Begotten gothic dress pattern - Simplicity 8619

Simplicity 8619 by Begotten (1999) Image via Etsy.

In the 2000s, gothic sewing patterns shift away from mainstream fashion toward subcultural costume for—as Laura Jacobs puts it—“our own Romantic Revivals: Goth, that pas de deux with death, and Steampunk, a mating of Queen Victoria and Thomas Edison” (Jacobs, Gothic to Goth exhibition review). Hammer Horror fans have “gothic costumes” McCall’s 3372 and McCall’s 3380; cybergoths can make dusters based on the costumes in The Matrix (1999) (Simplicity 5386, etc.); and Arkivestry and its offshoots cover everything from old-school gothic heroine to Loli to Steampunk.

Meanwhile, a gothic trend is predicted for Fall 2016. Are you ready?

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!

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.

Zandra Rhodes: Style Patterns

September 24, 2015 § 3 Comments

Zandra Rhodesand Rembrandt's Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet, 2014

Zandra Rhodes and Rembrandt’s portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet, 2014. Image via the National Gallery.

Last week, Zandra Rhodes returned to London Fashion Week for her Spring 2016 collection. Famous for her colourful, hand-drawn prints, the bohemian cult favourite is also new to Vogue Patterns for Winter/Holiday 2015: Vogue 1472 is the first new Zandra Rhodes sewing pattern in thirty years. (Update: read a profile in Vogue Patterns magazine.) For knitters, the current issue of Rowan Knitting & Crochet has a Zandra Rhodes jacket pattern available as a free download.

Zandra Rhodes sketch with yarn charts and sample garment - Rowan 58 (Winter 2015)

Zandra Rhodes sketch with yarn charts and sample garment in Katy Bevan, “Dame Zandra’s Knitting Circle” in Rowan Knitting & Crochet 58 (Winter 2015). Image via Rowan.

Born in Chatham, Kent, Zandra Rhodes (b. 1940) trained as a textile designer at Medway College of Art, where her mother was a lecturer, and London’s Royal College of Art. Rhodes founded her own label in order to build garments around her prints. Her first, 1969 collection, Knitted Circle, was famously worn by Natalie Wood in Vogue magazine; the evening coat is now in the collection of the V&A:

Natalie Wood wears a screen-printed felt evening coat and silk chiffon dress, both by Zandra Rhodes. Vogue, January 1970. Photo: Gianni Penati. Image via Youthquakers.

Rhodes became known as the Princess of Punk following her Spring 1977 torn and safety-pinned Conceptual Chic collection, which was partly inspired by Schiaparelli’s Tears dress.

Wedding dress and dress from Zandra Rhodes' Spring 1977 collection

A wedding dress and dress from Zandra Rhodes’ Spring 1977 collection at the PUNK: Chaos to Couture exhibit, 2014. Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

By the 1980s Rhodes was designing for Princess Diana. The princess wore this pink chiffon dress, embellished with crystal beads and pearl droplets, during her 1986 state visit to Japan (now in the collection of Historic Royal Palaces):

Zandra Rhodes sketch for Princes Diana. Image via SDNews.

In 1985, Style Patterns released a handful of Zandra Rhodes sewing patterns. Rhodes was among the first designers to be included in the company’s short-lived designer line. (See my earlier posts on Bruce Oldfield and Frederick Fox.)

Style 4399 is a pattern for a wedding or evening dress in two lengths with characteristic serated frill:

1980s Zandra Rhodes formal dress pattern - Style 4399

Style 4399 by Zandra Rhodes (1985) Image via Etsy.

Style 4399 schematic

Back view for Style 4399 (1985)

Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Lined Wedding Dress or Evening Dress in Two Lengths — Dress has shoulder yoke with serrated frill and pointed cape effect on bodice. Skirt has elasticated waistline. Model 1 bead trim is used on yoke and neck tie. Suggested fabrics: Lightweight silk types, crepe de chine, chiffon, shantung, lace, voile, batiste, organza. Lining: Jap silk, crepe de chine. Trim: wide ribbon and pearl beading or narrow ribbon.

Style 4400 is an off-the-shoulder wedding or bridesmaid’s dress with separate petticoat:

1980s Zandra Rhodes formal dress pattern - Style 4400

Style 4400 by Zandra Rhodes (1985)

Style 4400 schematic

Technical drawing for Style 4400 (1985)

The envelope description reads: Misses’ Half-Lined Wedding Dress or Bridesmaid’s Dress and Petticoat — Dress has flounced bodice with elasticated waist. Skirt has layered net frills, with gathered net and ribbon trim. Bride and bridesmaid’s dress has petticoat in fabric and net. Suggested fabrics: Dress, Models 1 and 2: Organza, voile, silk or synthetic sheers, lightweight lace. Lining: silk types, taffeta, satin (nap irrelevant). Net or tulle: silk, nylon. Trim: wide ribbon, sequin trim, narrow ribbon.

The third dress design, Style 4400, has a low back décolletage and multi-tiered skirt:

1980s Zandra Rhodes dress pattern - Style 4495

Style 4495 by Zandra Rhodes (1985)

Style 4495 schematic

Technical drawing for Style 4495 (1985)

You can see the same pattern with updated envelope here.

Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Dress in Two Lengths — Dress has fitted bodice with elasticated waistline. Models 1 and 3 have bodice frill to waistline. Model 2 has shorter bodice frill. Models 1 and 2 have four-tiered skirt flounce. Model 3 has three-tiered skirt flounce. Suggested fabrics: Chiffon, georgette, voile, silk or synthetic sheers, organza. Also: lightweight lining fabric. Trim: wide ribbon; pearl trim (views 1 and 2).

The designs seem to be from Rhodes’ Spring 1985 collection, Images of Woman:

Zandra Rhodes SS1985 a

Zandra Rhodes Spring/Summer 1985 collection. Image via UCA Library.

Zandra Rhodes SS1985 b

Zandra Rhodes Spring/Summer 1985 collection. Image via UCA Library.

The trim and fabric specifications are catalogues of girliness: lightweight, floaty fabrics to be trimmed with the ribbon, sequins, and pearls. I love how Style 4495 suggests lining fabric as an alternative—perhaps with a budget-conscious youth market in mind.

For more on Zandra Rhodes, see the V&A’s article.

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