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):
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.
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.”
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.
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:
Now consider the pattern envelope:
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?
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:
The September ad shows Dovima on a trip to Paris, before a mustachioed gendarme. The pattern is McCall’s 3785 by Givenchy:
Another travel-themed ad shows McCall’s 3790 with some whimsically stacked luggage:
This 1957 ad featuring McCall’s 3952 shows a well-dressed tug-of-war:
This Valentine’s Day-themed ad appeared in Vogue’s March 1957 issue. (The pattern is McCall’s 3967.) The model is Suzy Parker:
In the ad for May 1957, the binocular-wielding model wears an “Instant” dress, McCall’s 4070:
This late summer ad looks forward to fall’s collegiate sports games. The design is by Claire McCardell, McCall’s 4208:
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?
Happy New Year, everyone! This year I look forward to sharing more of my original pattern research and sewing projects, including my ’40s cape, an over-the-top ’70s Dior, and two by Alexander McQueen. For the moment I’ve been temporarily sucked back into academia, so my first post of 2013 is an images post.
Advertising for home sewing often involves women and mirror images. Promotional illustrations will show a woman standing before a mirror, or contemplating her reflection, as on these leaflets from Butterick and McCall:
An Edwardian McCall’s ad shows an interesting variation: the mirror reflects a fashion plate, the idealized, well-dressed woman the dressmaker will become through her labour. The slogan spells out the idea of wish-fulfilment, promising the home dressmaker that she can “realize her dreams” with McCall’s patterns:
The fashion plate also serves to promote a McCall’s pattern. Here is the full illustration:
I know this isn’t the only sewing ad I’ve seen based on this concept. Can you think of others?
In other news, PatternVault is now on Twitter! Follow me for updates on the blog, shop, and vintage and designer fashion.
I wanted to share this holiday-themed, Mad Men-era advertisement for Singer Slant-O-Matic sewing machines and Singer Sewing Centers:
Like the other ads in the series (see my earlier post here), the ad plays with scale while serving up some mid-century aspirational marketing. The copy promotes the Slant-O-Matic’s slanted needle and how it helps dressmakers sew special fabrics into submission.
The model is Sara Thom; her evening gown in grape and fuchsia taffeta is a McCall’s exclusive by Pauline Trigère, McCall’s 5588.