Bad Girls Do It Well

January 12, 2017 § 1 Comment

Late 1950s Eastman Fibers Chromspun ad feat. McCall's 5020 and Pierre Cardin suit McCall's 5099

C’est Vous! 1959 Eastman Fibers advertisement featuring McCall’s 5020 and McCall’s 5099 by Pierre Cardin.

A 1959 Eastman Fibers ad brings a note of intrigue to McCall’s patterns by photographing them in a nightlife setting, on a pair of vampy women.

The patterns are McCall’s 5020, a strapless cocktail dress, and McCall’s 5099, a skirt suit by Pierre Cardin, both shown in Wesco Chromspun fabrics.

Chromspun is the trademark for Eastman colour-locked acetate yarn from Eastman Chemical Products Inc., then a subsidiary of Eastman Kodak—in those days headquartered on Madison Avenue.

Create Your Brilliant Season

December 21, 2016 § 2 Comments

Dovima wears McCall's 4425 for Celanese, 1959

Dovima wears McCall’s 4425 for Celanese, 1959.

A Celanese advertising insert from the late 1950s shows McCall’s festive styles in the latest synthetic silks—top models and more than one tiara from the multinational chemical company that brought you cellulose acetate.

"Create your brilliant season with opulent fabrics of Celanese Contemporary Fibers" - 1959 Celanese insert

Celanese Contemporary Fibers advertising booklet, Fall 1959.

The booklet frames small, full-length photos of McCall’s designs with close-ups showing off the “brilliant” textiles. Here, McCall’s 4999 is shown in Belding Corticelli’s rayon-acetate matelassé, with McCall’s 5057 in Cohama’s Arnel triacetate faille. The model on the right is Simone D’Aillencourt:

1950s dress patterns McCall's 4999 and McCall's 5057

Left, McCall’s 4999 in Belding Corticelli matelassé; right, McCall’s 5057 in Cohama faille. Celanese insert, Fall 1959.

The blue ensemble on the left is McCall’s 5023, made in Celanese Celaperm acetate satin faille from the David Hecht Co. Anne St. Marie poses in McCall’s 5029 in Onondaga rayon-acetate brocade:

1950s dress and jacket ensemble patterns McCall's 5023 and McCall's 5029

Left, McCall’s 5023 in David Hecht Co. satin faille; right, McCall’s 5029 in Onondaga brocade. Celanese insert, Fall 1959.

Here, Dovima wears a shimmering gold version of McCall’s 4425 in Lawrence and Klauber printed crepe satin acetate, while McCall’s 4870 evokes Princess Grace in aqua acetate satin from William Skinner and Sons:

1950s evening dress patterns McCall's 4425 and McCall's 4870

McCall’s 4425 in Lawrence and Klauber printed crepe satin; right, McCall’s 4870 in William Skinner and Sons satin. Celanese insert, Fall 1959.

Dovima closes the booklet in McCall’s 5012, an at-home trouser ensemble shown in orange and tangerine Celaperm acetate satin peau from Wedgwood Fabrics.

Dovima wears McCall's 5012 in Wedgwood Fabrics' satin peau

Dovima wears McCall’s 5012 in Wedgwood Fabrics’ satin peau. Celanese insert, Fall 1959.

For more on the history of Celanese (est. 1918), see the company website.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Richard Avedon and Sally Victor: Simplicity Pattern Book, 1950

November 29, 2015 § 5 Comments

1950s Simplicity Pattern Book detail

Photo: Richard Avedon. Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

During his early period as a fashion photographer, Richard Avedon (1923-2004) did some work for Simplicity, including the Fall-Winter 1950 issue of Simplicity Pattern Book:

Fall-Winter 1950 Simplicity Patterb Book - cover by Richard Avedon

Simplicity Pattern Book, Fall-Winter 1950. Photo: Richard Avedon. Image via vintage4me2 on eBay.

The suit is Simplicity 3310, made in Botany flannels and worn with “[m]atching hat designed for Simplicity by Sally Victor,” Simplicity 3322.

Inside, the hat is shown photographed by Halley Erskine:

1950s Sally Victor hat pattern Simplicity 3322 in Simplicity Pattern Book

Make your own hat from a Sally Victor design. Simplicity Pattern Book, Fall-Winter 1950. Photos: Halley Erskine.

The back cover is a Botany ad, apparently from the same Avedon photo shoot:

1950s Botany ad featuring Simplicity 3322 and 3310

Botany advertisement on the back cover of Simplicity Pattern Book, Fall-Winter 1950.

I have a Canadian copy of Simplicity 3322 in the shop, printed with a special Chatelaine magazine logo:

1950s Sally Victor hat and bag pattern, Simplicity 3322

Simplicity 3322 by Sally Victor (1950) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

For more on Sally Victor see my Mad Men-era millinery post.

The Smartest Move You Can Make

June 4, 2015 § 1 Comment

Vogue ad April 1957 detail

Now that wedding season is upon us, I wanted to share this bridal-themed ad for Vogue Patterns from spring, 1957. The pattern is a Vogue Special Design, Vogue S-4765 (click to enlarge):

1950s Vogue Patterns advertisement showing Vogue S-4765

The smartest move you can make… Vogue Printed and Perforated Patterns advertisement, April 1957.

The company had a series of these ads, each showing the model bursting out of a bunch of printed and perforated pattern pieces. (Vogue patterns were unprinted until the mid-1950s.) I love how the slogan, “The smartest move you can make,” blurs the distinction between a life decision such as marriage and the choice of pattern brand.

Make the Clothes that Make the Woman (Part 2)

August 4, 2014 § 2 Comments

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, or are a connoisseur of 1950s sewing advertising, you’ve seen images from McCall’s mid-1950s “Make the Clothes that Make the Woman” advertising campaign. (See my earlier post here.)

I’ve found another ad from the campaign. The model is Jean Patchett, and the pattern is McCall’s 3635 —an “Italian drawstring top” and “saucy in-between-length Jamaican shorts” (click to enlarge):

Advertisement for McCall's Printed Patterns, 1956. Model: Jean Patchett.

Advertisement for McCall’s Printed Patterns, 1956. Model: Jean Patchett.

Envelope Fail: Vogue 2893 by Donna Karan

June 13, 2014 § 7 Comments

Erin Wasson photographed by Peter Lindbergh - Donna Karan Spring 2005 advertising campaign

Donna Karan Spring 2005 ad campaign. Model: Erin Wasson. Photo: Peter Lindbergh.

When I first started collecting sewing patterns, Naomi was baffled. She couldn’t understand my interest when the styling on modern pattern envelopes was bland or worse. This new, occasional series looks at designer patterns that fail to convey the strengths of the original—not as an end in itself, but in the hope of provoking reflection and discussion of the frequent disparity between designer fashion and the licensed versions offered to home sewers.

(You can see an earlier discussion in the comments on my Alber Elbaz post.)

Launching the series is Vogue 2893, a top and skirt pattern by Donna Karan from 2006. The off-the-shoulder, back-laced ensemble is drawn from Karan’s Spring/Summer 2005 collection, and was the centrepiece of the Peter Lindbergh advertising campaign starring Erin Wasson.

Erin Wasson photographed by Peter Lindbergh - Donna Karan Spring 2005 advertising campaign

Donna Karan Spring 2005 ad campaign. Model: Erin Wasson. Photo: Peter Lindbergh.

The look was even chosen to open the Spring 2005 runway presentation. The second photo shows the top’s contrast mesh inserts, elasticized shoulders, and decorative zigzag stitching detail:

Gemma Ward - Donna Karan Spring 2005 collection

Model: Gemma Ward. Photo: Marcio Madeira. Image via style.com.

Detail - Gemma Ward, Donna Karan Spring 2005 collection

Model: Gemma Ward. Image via style.com.

Now consider the pattern envelope:

Donna Karan off-the-shoulder top and skirt pattern - Vogue 2893

Vogue 2893 by Donna Karan (2006) Top and skirt.

Technical drawing for Vogue 2893

Technical drawing for Vogue 2893

The envelope replaces the original’s bared shoulders, open back, and slight flare at the hips with a much higher décolletage and tightly laced back. The result is a more covered-up, middle-of-the-road, body-con look that lacks the original’s confidence and wit.

What do you think? Did Vogue Patterns assume the original styling wouldn’t appeal to their customers?

Make the Clothes that Make the Woman

August 23, 2013 § 25 Comments

The slogan for McCall’s Patterns in the mid-1950s was “Make the clothes that make the woman.” The advertising campaign with this slogan shows two identical women, one dressed in McCall’s pattern pieces, the other in the finished garment. It’s a charming campaign from the Golden Age of Advertising. Here’s a selection, in roughly chronological order:

This ad from 1956 shows the model enjoying a fresh strawberry at a party. (Could it be a strawberry social?) The pattern is McCall’s 3562:

McCall's 3562 - McCall's advertisement advert 1956.

McCall’s advertisement, 1956.

The September ad shows Dovima on a trip to Paris, before a mustachioed gendarme. The pattern is McCall’s 3785 by Givenchy:

1950s Givenchy pattern, McCall's 3785 - McCall's advertisement advert September 1956.

McCall’s advertisement, September 1956.

Another travel-themed ad shows McCall’s 3790 with some whimsically stacked luggage:

McCall's 3790 - advertisement advert 1956

McCall’s advertisement, 1956.

This 1957 ad featuring McCall’s 3952 shows a well-dressed tug-of-war:

McCall's 3952 advertisement advert February 1957

McCall’s advertisement, February 1957. Image via Allposters.com.

This Valentine’s Day-themed ad appeared in Vogue’s March 1957 issue. (The pattern is McCall’s 3967.) The model is Suzy Parker:

McCall's 3967 advertisement advert March 1957

McCall’s advertisement, March 1957.

This spring ad shows McCall’s 4046 by James Galanos:

McCall's 4046 advertisement advert April 1957

McCall’s advertisement, April 1957.

In the ad for May 1957, the binocular-wielding model wears an “Instant” dress, McCall’s 4070:

McCall's 4070 advertisement advert May 1957

McCall’s advertisement, May 1957.

This late summer ad looks forward to fall’s collegiate sports games. The design is by Claire McCardell, McCall’s 4208:

1950s Claire McCardell pattern McCall's 4208 advertisement advert August 1957

McCall’s advertisement, August 1957.

Within its variations on the playfully presented scene of leisure, the campaign conveys a visual reminder of one of McCall’s long-standing technologies: the printed pattern. (McCall’s had been producing printed patterns since the 1920s, whereas Vogue only introduced printed patterns in 1956—later outside North America.) Have you seen other ads from this McCall’s campaign?

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