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 PatternsMagazine 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:
Supermodel Carolyn Murphy can be seen on some ’90s Vogue patterns.
Born in Florida, Carolyn Murphy (b. 1973) studied art history and literature at the University of Virginia before her modelling career took off in the mid-1990s. For more, see her IMG Models page.
Before she cut her hair, Murphy did some work for Vogue Patterns. Chuck Baker photographed her for the summer 1994 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine.
Here’s the original caption: Work-out wear goes high fashion as athletic-inspired clothes come out of the gym and onto the streets. Vogue Sport presents a one-pattern wardrobe of high-function pieces that look great whatever your game. Reflective stripes stylishly accent as well as provide high visibility protection. 1443 includes a black nylon jacket with inside drawstring, pull on sweatpants, boxy fleece shorts, and a V-neck sweatshirt that elongates into a sweatdress for lounging or going out.
As well as the Vogue Sport pattern, Murphy also models 5 Easy Pieces separates “in chocolate and emerald”:
Bonus: Murphy was also featured in this Marc Jacobs pattern hack, shot by Herb Ritts for Vogue. The Marc Jacobs slip dress (Vogue 1965) was shown in icy green velvet from Elegant Fabrics, NYC.
Before Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, there was Xena: Warrior Princess. The Hercules spinoff starring Lucy Lawless as a Thracian warrior became a cult hit, thanks partly to that iconic leather armour by Ngila Dickson.
Best known today for her work on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Dickson won a New Zealand Film and TV Award for Xena in 1998. The same year saw both an animated Hercules and Xena and official licensed costume patterns from Butterick. (Simplicity had done unofficial Xena patterns in 1997.)
The Butterick costumes call for synthetic leather for the dress and accessories, metallic cord and marker, and cotton Lycra to make your own undershorts. Chakram not included.
Blade Runner 2049, Denis Villeneuve’s much-anticipated sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, opens today. Here’s a look at the fashion references and influence of the 1982 cult classic. (For Blade Runner’s influence on current fashion and an interview with costume designer Renée April, see Booth Moore, “‘Blade Runner 2049’ Already a Hit on the Fashion Runways.”)
Blade Runner’s BAFTA-winning costume designers, Charles Knode and Michael Kaplan, cite 1940s film noir, with its iconic characters like Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade and Rita Hayworth’s Gilda, as their main inspiration. For the replicant Rachael, they also looked to the 1930s and ’40s tailoring of Hollywood costume designer-turned-couturier Adrian. (Kaplan is still in the genre-film spotlight with the new Star Wars trilogy, while the Adrian label—the subject of a recent exhibit—is being revived as Adrian Original.)
Kaplan used vintage fabrics for Rachael’s Adrian-inspired outfits: “I liked the idea of combining different shades of suiting fabrics to create patterns—something Adrian did. In this case I used amazing vintage suiting woollens in shades of grey and beige, with metallic threads that I was lucky enough to find, which created a subtle luminous quality.” (Source: AnOther mag.) This circa 1944 Butterick suit features Adrian-style piecing:
In the 1980s, Claude Montana was the go-to designer for the decade’s updated triangular silhouette. (Ridley Scott has acknowledged the decade’s ’40s revival as an important factor in the film’s aesthetic.) This Vogue Individualist design plays up the ’40s influence:
In spring, 1997, Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut was one of the first movies to be released on DVD. The following spring, working with stylist Bill Mullen and set designer Jack Flanagan, Steven Meisel photographed a Blade Runner-homage cover and editorial for Vogue Italia’s March 1998 prêt-à-porter issue. Michael Kaplan recalls mistaking the cover for a film still. The editorial features text from Roy’s climactic monologue (“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…”) with clothes from Prada’s Spring 1998 collection, which paired natural materials with synthetics like latex and plexiglass.
Meanwhile, in Paris, Alexander McQueen referenced Blade Runner in his Fall/Winter 1998 ready-to-wear collection for Givenchy. Visionaire’s Alexander McQueen memorial issue includes an image from Steven Meisel’s fall advertising campaign. (For more on this collection, see my McQueen series post.)
Sewists and Blade Runner devotees are fortunate to have two licensed patterns from this collection:
The sleeveless version of the dress seems to have been shown with a jacket on the runway. (Click the image to read about my version, which I wore to TIFF’s Cronenberg exhibit.)
Rachael’s chevron-quilted synthetic fur coat gets the most screen time, but it’s her blue brocade coat with standing fur collar that appears to have been McQueen’s main reference for the fur-trimmed coats and jackets. As the pattern reveals, the collar stands with the help of boning.
The weathered tones and textures of Mayan Revival—prominently seen in Deckard’s apartment, as played by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House—form a thread linking the first film, Meisel’s Givenchy campaign, and Villeneuve’s sequel. It was Kaplan’s vision of a dirty retrofuture, rather than glossy futurism, that won him the Blade Runner gig. It will be interesting to see what role revivals play in the new film.
For more production images for the new film, see the Vogue Italiagallery.