The World of Anna Sui opened at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London last weekend. It’s the museum’s first retrospective on a living American designer, with an accompanying book by Tim Blanks—out today from Abrams.
Anna Sui licensed her work with Vogue Patterns for some 16 years, from the mid-1990s to 2011. Read my series on Vogue patterns by Anna Sui:
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:
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:
These early ’80s editorial photos convey the dark romantic mood:
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:
Judging from Vogue’s September issues for 1993, Fall ’93 marked a return to the lusher side of romanticism.
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:
Similar Donna Karan dresses opened a British Vogue editorial shot by Mario Testino at Bolton Abbey, Derbyshire (headpieces by Slim Barrett):
This cold-shoulder gown must be from the same collection:
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):
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:
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:
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:
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 Gothexhibition 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?
Whether you call it fake or faux, this season’s fur trend is only fashion’s latest take on synthetic fur.
Many vintage sewing patterns call for fur banding and fur cloth. The reversible coat shown above, Vogue 1019 by Jacques Griffe, is fully lined with the latest black, synthetic fox fur. (Hover for full caption.) More recently there’s Donna Karan’s coat for low-pile fake fur, Vogue 1365, from the Fall 2012 collection:
Here’s a look at vintage patterns that call for fur trim or fur cloth, with an emphasis on the trendy, unusual, and outrageous.
From Winter 1926, this dolman coat by Martial et Armand has a deep fur collar and narrow fur banding at the cuffs:
This opulent, late 1920s evening wrap calls for a length of 4.5″ fur banding. A reproduction is available from EvaDress:
Thirties patterns show many creative uses of fur trim. These two ca. 1933 coats both call for fur cloth accents. McCall 7206 has an attached scarf and contrast lower sleeves, shown in synthetic Persian lamb, while McCall 7207 has a deep fur collar and matching, triangular sleeve patches:
Simplicity 1541’s dramatic, curving collar and pointed cuffs can be made in contrast fur cloth; the fur-trimmed version was illustrated on the cover of the holiday 1934 issue of Simplicity Pattern Magazine. A reproduction is available from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library:
From the autumn of 1939, McCall 3420 is a swagger coat with built-up neckline and optional, tapered lower sleeves and semi-circular shoulder insets. View A is shown in faux Astrakhan (matching hat unfortunately not included):
McCall 3875, a World War 2-era swing coat, can be made with elbow-deep fur cuffs:
This wartime cape pattern, previously featured in my vintage capes post, includes an evening cape with stand-up fur collar:
High-end postwar sewing patterns sometimes assume natural fur will be used and direct the home dressmaker to a specialist. From November 1949, Vogue 1075 is one of the earliest Balmain patterns. The voluminous “melon” sleeves can be made in fur contrast; the envelope back says, “Note: Have fur sleeves made by furrier”:
This Vogue Couturier design includes a wide-necked evening coat with big fur collar and elbow-length sleeves:
From Nina Ricci, Vogue 1217’s cape has a broad shawl collar that can be made in faux fur:
Vogue 1897 is a design from Yves Saint Laurent’s Fall/Winter 1967-68 haute couture collection, inspired by Queen Christina (see Paco’s post here). The fur-trimmed evening cape requires a taffeta stay for the fur trim unless made by a furrier:
David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago (1965) seems to have prompted a fashion for Cossack coats and hats. Vogue-Butterick had Vogue 1983, and McCall’s had this fur-trimmed coat pattern:
There was even a pattern for fur hats for men, women, and children, McCall’s 2966:
Eighties excess brought the more-is-more aesthetic to designs for synthetic fur. McCall’s 7736 is a raglan-sleeved jacket for lightweight fake fur or woolens:
From the Connoisseur Collection, Simplicity 7078 is for fake fur only:
In addition to a hat and stole for fur-like fabrics, accessories pattern Vogue 9981 includes a muff with concealed pocket:
The 1990s were another good time for synthetic fur—so good that Vogue Patterns licensed a designer specializing in faux fur outerwear. Not quite vintage, this reversible coat pattern by Issey Miyake calls for high pile fake fur:
From Alexander McQueen’s Fall 1998 ready-to-wear collection for Givenchy, Vogue 2228’s jacket has a fur-trimmed hem and large, standing fur collar that recalls the 1940s evening cape shown above. (See my earlier McQueen post here.) I have one copy for sale in the shop:
Vogue 2233’s fur-trimmed dress and jacket are from Anna Sui’s Fall/Winter 1998 collection (click to purchase from the shop):
Vogue 2233 is one of the most ’90s patterns ever: Björk meets Britpop. The jacket was worn on the runway by Kirsty Hume—hat by James Coviello:
There was also a pattern for Anna Sui faux-fur accessories, Vogue 7950 (see my earlier Anna Sui series).
Tips for sourcing synthetic fur
Tissavel: This luxury French faux fur mill is unfortunately now closed, but ends can be found on Etsy.
Faux Persian lamb/Astrakhan: Available as a special order from Emma One Sock.
Fur banding:Mokuba carries high-quality synthetic fur banding in various widths.
Working with vintage furs and synthetic fur
Vintage patterns often direct the home dressmaker to a furrier; old sewing books and magazines also provide tips for refashioning vintage furs. (Woman’s Day 5045 came with a special instruction booklet and fur needle.) Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide includes a chapter on fur.
For tips on sewing with synthetic fur, see Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide, Fehr Trade’s post, and Shannon Gifford’s post for Emma One Sock.
This week, the second part of my series on Vogue patterns by Anna Sui. (See Part 1 here.)
5. Anna Sui, Spring/Summer 1999 collection
Sui’s Spring 1999 collection was inspired by American sportswear designer Claire McCardell. Nylon dresses invoked McCardell’s functionalism, while denim pieces developed the Americana theme. Further New World references ranged from Mexican clothing, Día de los Muertos handicrafts, and Haitian voodoo, to glam rock and Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah (1949). (Browse the full collection at firstVIEW.)
Vogue 2305 is a pattern for two dresses with gathering details. View A is sleeveless, with a raised, drawstring waist and scarf collar; view B has a mock-wrap bodice, off-the-shoulder puffed sleeves, and a midriff cutout above the flared skirt:
Kirsten Owen and Giselle Bündchen modelled the dresses on the runway:
6. Anna Sui, Spring/Summer 2001 collection
One of the main inspirations for the Spring 2001 collection was the Mudd Club, a locus for New York’s cultural underground in the late 1970s and early 1980s. An Edo Bertoglio polaroid of Mudd Club co-founder Anya Phillips in her blue, lace-up dress was a reference for some of the pieces. (As well as being an independent fashion designer, Phillips was art director at Fiorucci; see Tim Blanks, “Mudd Quake.”) As Andrew Bolton notes, even the collection’s less overtly ’80s designs reflected Sui’s “Mudd Club thrift-shop punk aesthetic.” (See the full collection at style.com.)
Vogue 2551 is a pattern for two LBDs for stretch knits. The one-shouldered view A is cut on the bias, with the right skirt front extending into a twisted hip drape; view B has pleats at the right shoulder and a left side slit:
Here are the two dresses on the runway. The one-shouldered jersey dress was modelled by Hannelore Knuts:
These two Edo Bertoglio portraits from the Mudd Club era show Anya Phillips, in her blue dress, and Anna Sui (photos via New York Magazine; the Sui portrait was first published in Vogue Italia):
(More Mudd Club-era photos may be found in Maripolarama [powerHouse Books, 2005], which contains a recollection by Anna Sui.)
7. Anna Sui, Fall/Winter 2001 collection
Sui’s inspiration for her Fall 2001 collection was another legendary New York venue: the Factory, Andy Warhol’s studio. In reference to Warhol’s Factory parties and ideas about celebrity, the runway presentation incorporated a screening of a black-and-white, short film, commissioned from Zoe Cassavetes, of Sui’s famous friends attending a cocktail party. Other ’60s inspirations included “Baby” Jane Holzer’s eclectic wardrobe, the work of Rudi Gernreich, and William Klein’s film Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1966). (Full collection at style.com.)
Vogue 2640 is a pattern for a jacket and dress with contrast binding, plus a matching scarf:
Vogue 2640’s striped jacket and dress ensemble was the spring collection’s opening look:
The collection’s stripes are a reference to a particularly Op-art scene in Klein’s Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?:
8. Anna Sui, Fall/Winter 2003 collection
The concept of art deco skiwear inspired the Fall 2003 collection, which Sui designed during another cold winter (2002-3) when urban skiwear was dominating New York street fashion. In the colours, motifs, and especially the geometric patterns of art deco, as well as the distinctive, tubular 1920s silhouette, the collection chanelled the flapper’s modernity, but with a dose of fun fur. (Full collection on style.com.)
Vogue 7950 or 639 is a pattern for five different faux fur pieces: a jacket, vest, hat, mittens, and legwarmers. The jacket is cropped, with elbow-length sleeves, while the vest has an exposed zipper. The hat has a contrast scarf that could be made to match the mittens’ contrast palms and cuffs, and the legwarmers have elasticized leg bands:
Here are some detail shots of the hat and legwarmers on the runway:
L’Officiel’s collection image shows the ’20s ski theme, complete with Anna Sui-branded snowboard (click to enlarge):
Anna Sui’s work wears its postmodernity lightly. The designer’s myriad references, fantastical narratives, and hybrid concepts mean her collections keep evolving while staying true to a bohemian, thrift-store aesthetic. I’m already planning to make several of these (one of the hazards of research). Which are your favourites?
Anna Sui (b. 1955) is beloved for her playfully postmodern designs. Sui collections are typically full of eclectic, retro references—fun and accessible, but always with an alternative edge. (For a comprehensive discussion of Sui’s work see Andrew Bolton, Anna Sui [Chronicle Books, 2010].)
Anna Sui’s licensing agreement with Vogue Patterns lasted from the mid-1990s until quite recently. There were also Anna Sui knitting patterns, like this paillette-trimmed mohair sweater shown on the cover of Vogue Knitting magazine:
This two-part series will present some highlights from Anna Sui’s earlier Vogue patterns, ordered by collection.
1. Anna Sui, Spring/Summer 1995 collection
Anna Sui was introduced to readers of Vogue Patterns in the July/August 1995 issue with a design from her Spring 1995, vintage ’30s and ’40s collection. Inspirations for this collection included pulp magazines, waitress uniforms, and Minnie Mouse. The collection was notable for its use of textiles, which ranged from nylon pinstripes and rubberized chiffon to prints both rockabilly and haute: some of the dresses and skirts used 1940s prints that were designed by Christian Bérard for Ascher Ltd and specially recoloured for the collection.
Vogue 1619 is a pattern for four dresses with vintage details like cut-in shoulders and puffed or tucked sleeves. The red, bouquet print in the large photo is by Christian Bérard. Vogue later proclaimed the “1940s floral look” the look of the season*:
Here’s the Bérard print dress on the runway, complete with red shoes worn with pink socks:
Vogue 1619 made the cover of Vogue Patterns’ September 1995 catalogue:
Just for fun, here’s a photo of Nicole Kidman in one of the spring collection’s pinstripe suits:
2. Anna Sui, Fall/Winter 1995 collection
For Fall 1995 Sui presented a Mod collection. The show opened with Linda Evangelista on the back of a Lambretta scooter and continued with skinny mod suits and pieces in black leather and sequinned camo, referencing Andy Warhol’s camouflage screenprints.
Vogue 1702’s mod suit includes a front-pleated skirt and sleeveless top—best worn with a matching headscarf (as shown with Vogue 1789):
Linda Evangelista was photographed in the Vogue 1702 suit by Patrick Demarchelier (see top of post). A tweed version was modelled by Stella Tennant:
3. Anna Sui, Fall/Winter 1997 collection
Sui’s ‘goth’ collection was presented at the Church of Divine Paternity, a neo-Gothic church on New York’s Upper West Side. Siouxie Sioux was a major inspiration for the show, which had post-punk makeup by François Nars and a wealth of textiles characteristic of old-school goth style, such as velvet, lace, lace-printed chiffon, and fishnet. As Bolton notes, the collection referenced the goth love of historicism in Vivienne Westwood-style bustles and ‘mini-crinis.’
Vogue 2072 is a pattern for two mini-crini dresses trimmed with ribbon and lace. It even includes the mesh top and fingerless gloves (see my earlier post here):
Karen Elson and Tasha Tilberg modelled the Vogue 2072 dresses on the runway, accessorized with matching fingerless gloves, sheer leggings, and beaded devil horns:
The red, view B version of the Vogue 2072 dress, complete with Sui devil horns, was photographed on a young Sofia Coppola:
4. Anna Sui, Spring/Summer 1998 collection
For spring 1998 Sui presented a surfer-inspired collection. Bold prints, bright colours, and bucket hats conveyed the laid-back spirit of surfer subculture, with Hawaiian, Indian, and Balinese prints and accessories evoking days spent on tropical beaches.
Vogue 2152’s three summery little dresses are like a mini vacation wardrobe:
Here are two of the Vogue 2152 dresses on the runway. The slip dress in view B was worn with a long-sleeved mesh top:
Kate Moss wears another dress from the collection in this editorial photo by Terry Richardson:
The gold-appliquéd pink sari silk was inspired by a dress belonging to the Duchess of Windsor, again bringing home the wide-ranging eclecticism of Sui’s references.
Setting aside the corsets, Morticia costumes* and Ren fair looks that may come up in a “goth pattern” search, this is the only pattern I’ve seen that truly testifies to that time in the ’90s when goth was trendy:
Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ dress, top & gloves. Lined dress, above mid-knee, has close-fitting bodice variations, dirndl skirt, attached petticoat with yokes/ruffles and back zipper. A: elasticized gathers below waist. B: boned bodice with princess seams and purchased trim. close-fitting, pullover top has neck binding, stitched hems and long sleeves. Close-fitting gloves have narrow hem.
What I find delightful about Vogue 2072 (in addition to from the fact that it enables you to make your own stretch mesh top and fingerless gloves) is the variety of fabrics required for its frilly goth-out: double edged scalloped lace for the dress, organza for the lining and underlining of yoke and bodice, chiffon for the skirt lining, and tulle for the petticoat, as well as velvet ribbon and pre-gathered lace trim.
Vogue 1290 is a close second. I was surprised to see it’s still in print (now out of print).
Full disclosure: During the ’90s I actually had the first two patterns** linked above made up. As well as view C of Vogue 1290.
Happy Hallowe’en everyone!
* It must be admitted that the children’s version of the 1992 Addams Family costumes, Simplicity 7991 / 0630, is unforgivably cute.
** Vogue 1605 by Bellville Sassoon and Simplicity 7990 / 0629.