Designer Swimwear: Vintage Patterns

1980s Bob Mackie swimsuit pattern McCall's 7138 photographed for McCall's summer news flier
McCall’s 7138 by Bob Mackie on the cover of McCall’s news, July 1980.

It’s been another hot summer here in Toronto. One of my earliest blog posts, Heat Wave!, surveys vintage beachwear patterns. This summer, let’s take a look at a more elusive beast: designer swimwear patterns.

1950s

The earliest pattern I’ve seen for designer swimwear is Pucci’s strapless one-piece, McCall’s 3977. This pattern was available in Junior sizes only. The suit was lined in jersey, and could be made with or without the brightly coloured appliqués:

1950s Emilio Pucci bathing suit pattern McCall's 3977
McCall’s 3977 by Emilio Pucci (1956) Image: eBay.

1960s

From another Italian designer, Irene Galitzine, Vogue 1288 is a pattern for a bikini, dress, and hat. The bikini consists of a cropped, cowl-neck blouse and bikini pants with side ties:

1960s Galitzine bikini, coverup, and hat pattern Vogue 1288
Vogue 1288 by Irene Galitzine (ca. 1963) Image: eBay.

1970s

The 1970s were the heyday of designer swimwear patterns, often with a coordinating coverup, and always for stretch knits. Vogue 1416 is an early design by Donna Karan; from Anne Klein’s collaboration with Penfold, the pattern includes both a maillot and a halter bikini:

1970s Donna Karan at Anne Klein for Penfold pattern Vogue 1416
Vogue 1416 by Donna Karan at Anne Klein for Penfold (1976) Image: Etsy.

From Bill Blass, Vogue 1455 includes a two-piece swimsuit with bra top and bikini briefs:

1970s Bill Blass jacket, pants, and swimsuit pattern Vogue 1455
Vogue 1455 by Bill Blass (1976)

John Kloss licensed a number of swimwear designs with Butterick. This ad promotes his patterns with a poolside photo of Butterick 4808:

Only Butterick has patterns designed by John Kloss. 1976 Butterick / John Kloss ad
Butterick 4808 by John Kloss, Butterick advertisement, 1976. Image: eBay.

Another Butterick designer, Gil Aimbez, designed this one-piece bathing suit. Contrast bias binding outlines the cut-away sides and bodice seaming detail:

1970s Gil Aimbez swimsuit and coverup pattern Butterick 5449
Butterick 5449 by Gil Aimbez (ca. 1977) Image: Etsy.

Like the Anne Klein Penfold pattern above, this Penfold pattern includes both one-piece and halter bikini bathing suits. The one-piece and bikini top are cut on the bias:

1970s Penfold pattern Vogue 1655
Vogue 1655 by Penfold (ca. 1977) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Both Penfold patterns can be seen in a Vogue Patterns editorial photographed in Antigua:

1970s Anne Klein / Penfold halter bikini pattern by Donna Karan, Vogue 1416 in Vogue Patterns magazine
Beach beauty: halter bikini Vogue 1416 by Donna Karan at Anne Klein for Penfold, Vogue Patterns, May/June 1977. Model: Clotilde. Photo: Albert Watson. Image: TFS.
Newest waterways - Vogue Patterns May/Jun 1977 Penfold
Vogue 1655 by Penfold with Vogue 9808, Vogue Patterns, May/June 1977. Models: Lisa Cooper and Clotilde. Photos: Albert Watson. Image: TFS.

From spring, 1978, Vogue 1893 seems to have been the only Catalina pattern. Instead of a coverup, it includes three styles of bathing suit: low-backed view A, strapless view B with built-in boning, and blouson view C is a two-piece:

1970s Catalina swimsuit pattern Vogue 1893
Vogue 1893 by Catalina (1978) Image: Etsy.

The magazine recommended making the Catalina suits in Thompson of California’s “second skin Tic Toc warp knit polyester crepes” in various prints:

Vogue 1893 by Catalina in Vogue Patterns May/June 1978
Vogue 1893 by Catalina, Vogue Patterns, May/June 1978. Image: Vintage Goodness.

1980s

From 1980, McCall’s 7109 includes three one-piece swimsuits by the Italian label Basile: a mock wrap, belted halter-neck and variations on the strapless suit with gathered bust (available in the shop):

1980s Basile swimsuit pattern - McCall's 7109
McCall’s 7109 by Basile (1980) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Jerry Hall (right) seems to be wearing the view A style in this Basile ad photographed by Irving Penn:

vogue italia 1980 penn basile
Basile advertisement in Vogue Italia, 1980. Photo: Irving Penn. Models: Michelle Stevens and Jerry Hall. Image: TFS.

Also from 1980, Bob Mackie’s strapless, colour-blocked swimsuit, McCall’s 7138, was photographed for the July counter catalogue and news leaflet (seen at the top of this post):

1980s Bob Mackie swimsuit and cover-up pattern McCall's 7138
McCall’s 7138 by Bob Mackie (1980) Image: Etsy.

1990s

Finally, this early ’90s DKNY pattern, Vogue 2897, is labelled ‘dress and bodysuit,’ but was photographed as beachwear:

1990s DKNY bodysuit and hooded dress / coverup pattern Vogue 2897
Vogue 2897 by DKNY (1992) Image: Etsy.

After a long swimwear pattern drought, the big pattern companies seem to have noticed the renewed popularity of sewing your own, custom bathing suit. For this summer, Simplicity reissued a 1950s bathing suit pattern, Simplicity 4307 / S8139, and The McCall Pattern Company has released a number of new swimwear designs, including one Vogue and two Lisette swimwear patterns.

Two designers with existing pattern licensing, Cynthia Rowley and Rachel Comey, both have swimwear lines. If we voice our support, perhaps we could soon see patterns for Cynthia Rowley surf wear and Rachel Comey Swim

Cynthia Rowley for Roxy wetsuit, 2010
Wetsuit by Cynthia Rowley for Roxy, 2010. Image: Pinterest.
Willy Somma self-portrait for Rachel Comey Swim, 2013
Willy Somma self-portrait for Rachel Comey Swim, T Magazine, May 2013. Image: nytimes.com.

Vintage Designer Menswear: Vogue Patterns

1970s Bill Blass men's jacket, sweater, shirt and necktie pattern with vintage Nikon camera - Vogue 2917
Vogue 2917 by Bill Blass (1973) Image: PatternVault shop.

It’s been some time since Vogue offered designer menswear patterns. In the 1970s and 1980s, home sewers could choose from licensed designs for everything from men’s shirts to outerwear and three-piece suits. In celebration of Father’s Day, here’s a selection of vintage menswear patterns from Vogue Patterns.

1970s

Vogue introduced designer menswear patterns in the early 1970s with designs by Bill Blass and Pierre Cardin. From Cardin, Vogue 2918 is a double-breasted coat in two lengths:

1970s Pierre Cardin men's coat pattern - Vogue 2918
Vogue 2918 by Pierre Cardin (1973) Image: Etsy.

1975 saw the release of some his-and-hers Valentino patterns. Vogue 1180, a men’s jacket and pants pattern, was photographed with a women’s Valentino ensemble, Vogue 1178:

1970s Valentino men's jacket and pants pattern - Vogue 1180
Vogue 1180 by Valentino (1975) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Polo by Ralph Lauren was introduced to Vogue customers in the summer of 1975. The safari-style Vogue 1237 and 1238 were photographed in India:

Polo Ralph Lauren men's patterns in Vogue Patterns May June 1975
Vogue 1237 and 1238 by Polo Ralph Lauren in Vogue Patterns, May/June 1975. Photos: Steve Horn. Image: Make Mine Vogue.

Also by Polo Ralph Lauren, Vogue 1581 is a double-breasted trench coat with detachable lining:

1970s Polo Ralph Lauren trench coat pattern Vogue American Designer 1581
Vogue 1581 by Polo by Ralph Lauren (c. 1977)

This Christian Dior shirt-jacket and pants is the only men’s Dior pattern I’ve seen:

1970s Christian Dior men's shirt-jacket and pants pattern - Vogue 1609
Vogue 1609 by Christian Dior (ca. 1977) Image: PatternVault shop.

This snappy three-piece suit is by Bill Blass:

1970s Bill Blass men's 3-piece suit pattern - Vogue 1620
Vogue 1620 by Bill Blass (1977) Image: patronescostura on Etsy.

There were two menswear patterns by Yves Saint Laurent: safari suits photographed by Chris von Wangenheim (see Paco’s related post here):

Yves Saint Laurent men's patterns in Vogue Patterns March April 1977
Vogue 1645 and 1644 by Yves Saint Laurent in Vogue Patterns, March/April 1977. Photos: Chris von Wangenheim. Image: Paco Peralta.

Givenchy licensed a trim three-piece suit, Vogue 2112:

1970s Givenchy menswear pattern - Vogue Paris Original 2112
Vogue 2112 by Givenchy (1979) Image: PatternVault shop.

In 1979 the company released a trio of menswear patterns by Calvin Klein—separate patterns for a shirt, jacket, and pants. Vogue 2256 is a pattern for slim, tapered men’s pants; view B is low-rise and flat-front:

1970s Calvin Klein men's trousers pattern - Vogue 2256
Vogue 2256 by Calvin Klein (1979) Image: Etsy.

1980s

The menswear releases tapered off in the 1980s. 1980 saw the release of two Bill Blass men’s patterns, for a three-piece suit and close-fitting shirt:

1980s Bill Blass men's shirt pattern - Vogue 2586
Vogue 2586 by Bill Blass (1980) Image: Etsy.

In 1988 Vogue released three menswear patterns by Perry Ellis, for a jacket, shirt, and pants. Vogue 2207 is a loose-fitting jacket:

1980s Perry Ellis men's jacket pattern - Vogue 2207
Vogue 2207 by Perry Ellis (1988) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Just for fun, I’ll close with this Pierre Cardin robe and pajamas, which included a logo appliqué:

1970s Pierre Cardin men's pajamas and robe pattern - Vogue 2798 - moustachioed man on telephone
Vogue 2798 by Pierre Cardin (c. 1972) Image: Etsy.

With menswear sales catching up with womenswear, perhaps Vogue Patterns will capitalize on this trend by restoring menswear to its designer licensing. I’d be first in line for a Saint Laurent pattern…

Happy Father’s Day!