In memoriam: Karl Lagerfeld

Esther de Jong in Chanel haute couture by Karl Lagerfeld, Fall 1997. Photo: Karl Lagerfeld. Editor: Amanda Harlech?
Esther de Jong in Chanel haute couture by Karl Lagerfeld, Fall 1997. Photo: Karl Lagerfeld. Image: jalougallery.

Farewell to Karl Lagerfeld. Prolific, influential, and above all, iconic, the designer — who had a lifetime contract with Chanel — was working to the last.

Read the couturier’s Vogue obituary. (Tim Blanks; German Vogue.)

Vampire Vamps! McCall 4464 by Chanel

Lorena
Lorena Krasiki (Mariana Klaveno) in 1926 (True Blood, Season 2)

For my Halloween vampire flapper costume I made one of my favourite 1920s patterns in my collection: McCall 4464, an evening dress by Chanel.

McCall 4464 1920s Chanel pattern flapper evening dress
McCall 4464 by Chanel (1926) Evening dress with slip.

Here’s the illustration from the 1926 Summer Quarterly. As I was putting this post together, I realized that True Blood’s 1926 Lorena and the catalogue illustrator both accessorize a black dress with red beads:

McCall 4464 1920s Chanel evening dress pattern McCall Quarterly Summer 1926
McCall 4464 in the McCall Quarterly, Summer 1926. Image courtesy of Debby Zamorski.

The short evening dress has a bloused bodice, side drapery on the skirt, “trimming strings” or streamers, and self fabric flowers at the straps. The pattern doesn’t include the flowers, but it does indicate ‘material for rosettes’ on the layout. I skipped them for my version—they may balance the streamers, but I’m not really a rosette kind of girl.

Mine and Naomi’s dresses are actually shown side by side in the 1926 catalogue. I can assure you this is an absolutely accurate reflection of our relationship:

1920s Jean Patou and Chanel dress patterns 1926 McCall Quarterly
McCall 4457 and 4464 in the McCall Quarterly, Summer 1926. Image courtesy of Debby Zamorski.

I used the same black satin for the slip and the dress. The only alteration I made to the pattern was to grade down the bust by one size. I also shortened the straps, guided by the ‘natural waist’ mark on the slip front.

The basic instructions don’t cover what to do with the drapery or streamers. The trick for the drapery, as I discovered, is to sew it to the skirt sections before closing the side seams. For the streamers, the pieces showed a seam allowance but no lengthwise fold mark, so at first I thought they were meant to be pretty wide. But after scrutinizing the illustration (and contemplating the option of cutting each string twice) I concluded the streamers should actually be sewn together for a narrower width. The finishing was a little rushed, since I was fitting the straps just before we went out; I’m still not sure what to do with some of the rough edges…

Here are some photos of me in the dress:

McCall 4464 Chanel 1920s evening dressMcCall 4464 Chanel 1920s evening dress

Some detail shots:

McCall 4464 Chanel 1920s evening dressMcCall 4464 Chanel 1920s evening dress

I was surprised by how flattering the Twenties tubular silhouette can be. And comfortable: leaving the house, I had a brief moment of panic, feeling like I’d forgotten to get dressed. (I realize a foundation garment would have been worn during the period.) I think I’ll be re-making this one—maybe I’ll even venture some rosettes.

(Cross-posted to Sew Retro.)

Next: My 1920s vamp wrap.

McCall 1920s evening wrap pattern detail