Season of the Witch: Gothic Patterns

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: Romantic Era Fashion & Its Legacy (book cover) by Lynne Zacek Bassett
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:

1980 Nina Ricci black ruffled dress pattern Vogue 2582
Detail, Vogue 2582 by Nina Ricci (1980) Image: PatternVault shop.
1980 Nina Ricci black ruffled dress pattern Vogue 2582
Vogue 2562 by Nina Ricci (1980) Image: PatternVault shop.

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:

1980 Nina Ricci black off-the-shoulder gown pattern Vogue 2604
Vogue 2604 by Nina Ricci (1980) Image: eBay.
Vogue 2604 by Nina Ricci photographed by Ishimuro for the cover of Vogue Patterns Magazine Nov/Dec 1980
Vogue 2604 by Nina Ricci on the cover of Vogue Patterns, November/December 1980. Photo: Ishimuro. Image: eBay.

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

Fascination du Noir: Nina Ricci couture photographed by Chris Simpson, September 1980
“Fascination du Noir”: Nina Ricci couture in L’Officiel, September 1980. Photo: Chris Simpson. Image: jalougallery.com.
Nina Ricci Boutique and Balenciaga photographed by Deborah Turbeville, 1982.
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) with her Nikon camera in Tim Burton's Beetlejuice (1988)
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.

Vogue Paris Vogue US, and Vogue UK covers for Sept 1993 - Linda Evangelista by Max Vadukul and Steven Meisel, Christy Turlington by Mario Testino
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:

1990s Yves Saint Laurent off the shoulder maxi dress pattern Vogue 2330
Vogue 2330 by Yves Saint Laurent (1999)
Astrid Muñoz in Yves Saint Laurent
Inés Rivero in Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Spring 1999 runway. 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:

Noot Seear in Mario Sorrenti's Spring 1999 Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche ad campaign
Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche ad campaign, Spring 1999. Photo: Mario Sorrenti. Model: Noot Seear. Image: Pinterest.

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: Etsy.

In the 2000s, gothic sewing patterns shift away from mainstream fashion toward subcultural costume for “our own Romantic Revivals: Goth, that pas de deux with death, and Steampunk, a mating of Queen Victoria and Thomas Edison.”* 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?

* Laura Jacobs, Gothic to Goth exhibition review.

Fur Cloth for Fall

Anne St. Marie photographed in Vogue 1019,
Anne St. Marie wears Vogue 1019 by Jacques Griffe, Vogue Pattern Book, August/September 1961. Photo: Kazan.

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:

Joan Smalls wears a faux fur coat from Donna Karan FW 2012
Model: Joan Smalls. Image: vogue.com.

Here’s a look at vintage patterns that call for fur trim or fur cloth, with an emphasis on the trendy, unusual, and outrageous.

1920s

From Winter 1926, this dolman coat by Martial et Armand has a deep fur collar and narrow fur banding at the cuffs:

1920s Martial et Armand coat McCall 4667 illustrated in the Winter 1926 McCall Quarterly
McCall 4667 by Martial et Armand in McCall Quarterly, Winter 1926-27. Image courtesy of Debby Zamorski.

This opulent, late 1920s evening wrap calls for a length of 4.5″ fur banding. A reproduction is available from EvaDress:

Late 1920s evening wrap pattern - McCall 5945
McCall 5945 (1929) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

1930s

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:

McCall 7206, 7207 Spring 1933 coats
Two coat patterns, McCall 7206 and 7207, illustrated in McCall Fashion Book, Spring 1933.

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:

Via eBay
Simplicity 1541 (1934) Image: eBay.

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):

1930s coat pattern shown in check or faux Astrakhan - McCall 3420
McCall 3420 (1939)

1940s

McCall 3875, a World War 2-era swing coat, can be made with elbow-deep fur cuffs:

1940 coat pattern - McCall 3875
McCall 3875 (1940) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

This wartime cape pattern, previously featured in my vintage capes post, includes an evening cape with stand-up fur collar:

1940s cape pattern in evening or street length - McCall 4134
McCall 4134 (1941)

1950s

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”:

1940s Balmain coat pattern - Vogue 1075
Vogue 1075 by Balmain (1949) Image: Etsy.

This Vogue Couturier design includes a wide-necked evening coat with big fur collar and elbow-length sleeves:

1950s evening dress and coat with fur top-collar - Vogue 190
Vogue 190 (1959) Image: Etsy.

1960s

From Nina Ricci, Vogue 1217’s cape has a broad shawl collar that can be made in faux fur:

1960s Nina Ricci dress and coat pattern - Vogue 1217
Vogue 1217 by Nina Ricci (1963) Image: Etsy.

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:

1960s Yves Saint Laurent Queen Christina evening dress and cape pattern - Vogue 1897
Vogue 1897 by Yves Saint Laurent (1968) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

1970s

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:

1970s red, fur-trimmed coat pattern - McCall's 2676
McCall’s 2676 (1970) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

There was even a pattern for fur hats for men, women, and children, McCall’s 2966:

1970s faux fur hat and bag pattern - McCall's 2966
McCall’s 2966 (1971) Image: eBay.

1980s

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:

1980s jacket pattern - McCall's 7736
McCall’s 7736 (1981) Image: Etsy.

From the Connoisseur Collection, Simplicity 7078 is for fake fur only:

1980s faux fur coat pattern in 2 lengths - Simplicity 7078
Simplicity 7078 (1985) Image: Etsy.

In addition to a hat and stole for fur-like fabrics, accessories pattern Vogue 9981 includes a muff with concealed pocket:

1980s hat, stole, and muff pattern - Vogue 9981
Vogue 9981 (1987) Image: Etsy.

1990s

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:

1990s Issey Miyake reversible faux fur coat pattern - Vogue 2182
Vogue 2182 by Issey Miyake (1998) Image: Etsy.

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:

1990s Givenchy fur-trimmed suit pattern by Alexander McQueen - Vogue 2228
Vogue 2228 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy (1998) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Vogue 2233’s fur-trimmed dress and jacket are from Anna Sui’s Fall/Winter 1998 collection (click to purchase from the shop):

1990s Anna Sui fur-trimmed dress & jacket pattern - Vogue 2233
Vogue 2233 by Anna Sui (1998) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

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:

Kirsty Hume on the runway, Anna Sui FW 1998
Kirsty Hume, Anna Sui FW 1998. Image: firstVIEW.

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.