PatternVault 10th anniversary!

Paolo Roversi: Alexander McQueen Fall 2021 by Sarah Burton
Alexander McQueen Fall 2021 by Sarah Burton. Photo: Paolo Roversi. Image: Vogue Runway courtesy of Alexander McQueen.

The PatternVault blog is ten! That’s a whole decade of writing about fashion, fine sewing, and the venerable tradition of paper patterns. If you’re curious about where it all began, check out my 2011 series on Alexander McQueen sewing patterns.

Singer Sphinx with 1920s McCall patterns. Image: PatternVault shop.

Yes, I’m still busy with the campaign to save the beautiful, historic St. Giles church here in Hamilton, Ontario. If you’re like me and you value historic buildings — or are concerned about the climate impact of demolition — you can sign the petition HERE.

St. Giles, Hamilton (Stewart & Witton, 1912–13) Photo: Cathie Coward. Image: The Friends of St. Giles.

As we leave the worst of COVID behind us, there is talk of a postpandemic boom, a new prosperity along the lines of the Roaring Twenties. (See Peter Coy, “The 1920s Roared After a Pandemic, and the 2020s Will Try,” and Dhara Ranasinghe, “Back to the future: 2020s to echo roaring 20s or inflationary 70s?“)

Will fashion follow suit? Sarah Burton’s Fall ’21 collection for McQueen features a new robe de style, reminiscent of Lanvin’s Colombine. (See top of post; on the Lanvin gown see my Selvedge article).

Lanvin's Colombine robe de style (hiver 1924–25) photographed by Katerina Jebb, 2014
Lanvin, “Colombine,” robe de style, hiver 1924–25. Collection Palais Galliera © Katerina Jebb, 2014. Image: Architectural Digest France.

As savvy collectors and long-standing readers of this blog will know, the craft of home-sewn couture flourished in the 1920s. The decade saw the first issues of Vogue Pattern Book and the launch of McCall’s earliest couture patterns.

1920s Patou Art Deco dress pattern - McCall 5047
McCall 5047 by Patou (1927) Ladies’ and Misses’ Two-Piece Dress.
Vogue 7884 illustration by Harriet Meserole on the cover of Vogue Pattern Book, December–January 1924–25
Vogue Pattern Book, December–January 1924–25. Illustration: Harriet Meserole. Image: Pinterest.
McCall Quarterly, Winter 1927–28 (Paris Fashion Number) Illustration: Ben-Hur Baz. Image: Debbie Zamorski.
McCall 5051 by Worth Paris, McCall Quarterly, Winter 1927–28. Illustration: Ben-Hur Baz. Image courtesy Debbie Zamorski.

What do you think? Is it time for a couture sewing renaissance?

Hand-painted couture coat in hammered velvet with fur collar. Karen Elson photographed by Elen von Unwerth in Fall 1997 Dior couture by John Galliano ("A Poetic Tribute to the Marchesa Casati"
John Galliano’s Casati-inspired Dior couture in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Vogue, November 1997. Photo: Ellen von Unwerth. Editor: Grace Coddington. Model: Karen Elson. Image: Vogue Archive.

About Time: Fashion and Duration

Iris van Herpen (Dutch, born 1984). Dress, fall/winter 2012–13 haute couture. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Iris van Herpen, in honor of Harold Koda, 2016 (2016.185). Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978). Ball Gown, 1951. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Coulson, 1964 (2009.300.1311). Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope
Dresses by Iris van Herpen and Charles James, 2012 and 1951. Photos © Nicholas Alan Cope. Image: Costume Institute.

The PatternVault blog turns nine today! It’s been a pleasure writing about vintage fashion for you, for almost a decade.

Speaking of the passage of time, this year’s major Costume Institute show, About Time: Fashion and Duration, also considers questions of style and temporality.

Planned to mark the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 150th anniversary, the spring-summer exhibit has been postponed to open on October 29, 2020 (closing February 7, 2021). Luckily, thanks to Yale University Press, the exhibition catalogue is available to purchase, or preview online.

Book cover for About Time: Fashion & Duration by Andrew Bolton, 2020
Andrew Bolton, About Time: Fashion & Duration (Metropolitan Museum of Art 2020) Design: Joseph Logan and Anamaria Morris. Image: Yale / Google Books.

The preview — and exquisite black-and-white photography by Nicholas Alan Cope — gives a taste of the garments selected for the now-postponed exhibition. Curator Andrew Bolton pairs Drecoll with Rick Owens, and a WW1 Red Cross uniform with current-season Margiela by Galliano.

Dinner dress by Christoph Drecoll, ca. 1912. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope
Dinner dress by Christoph Drecoll, ca. 1912. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope. Image: Yale / Google Books.
Rick Owens Fall/Winter 2007-8. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope
Rick Owens Fall/Winter 2007-8. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope. Image: Yale / Google Books.
American Red Cross uniform, 1918. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope
American Red Cross uniform, 1918. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope. Image: Yale / Google Books.
John Galliano for Martin Margiela Spring 2020. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope
John Galliano for Martin Margiela Spring 2020. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope. Image: Yale / Google Books.

As I noted on Twitter, About Time also includes a look at the McQueen dress that is SHOWstudio’s latest Design Download.

Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2020. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope
Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2020. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope. Image: Yale / Google Books.
Detail, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2020. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope
Detail, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2020. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope. Image: Yale / Google Books.

Happy blogiversary to me, and happy sesquicentennial to the Met!