The Matrix Costume Patterns

The Matrix costume, 2017 D0801 envelope - Simplicity, "The Leaders in Cosplay Sewing"
Simplicity D0801 (2017) Matrix costumes. Image: Etsy.

Ready for a cybergoth revival? The Matrix is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and Variety has just announced that there will be a Matrix 4, to be directed by Lana Wachowski and again starring Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss.

The costumes in the first Matrix were hugely influential. Working within a tight budget, costume designer Kym Barrett (Romeo + Juliet, Us) placed the emphasis on texture and movement, using low-cost materials like PVC and a wool blend for Neo’s coat. The rebels were also outfitted in custom accessories, with boots by Barrett and bespoke eyewear by Richard Walker.

On March 31st the fight for the future begins. Poster for The Matrix (1999) Image: IMDb

The first Matrix film even inspired John Galliano’s Fall 1999 couture collection for Dior. Presented at Versailles, the collection mixed futuristic raver-couture with more fanciful references like “Gainsborough in Persia.” (“The dresses are evil, evil,” Galliano was quoted saying. “But you have to have the Romantic. They die for that, my ladies.”) As Vogue’s Hamish Bowles wrote, the couture clients warmed more to the 18th-century looks than to “Matrix cybervixen.”

Dior By John Galliano - Couture Collection Fall Winter 1999-2000. Le 19 juillet 1999, dans la cadre de la présentation de la Collection haute couture Automne- Hiver, 1999-2000 de Christian DIOR par John GALLIANO à l'Orangerie du château de Versailles. ici le styliste posant avec un groupe de jeunes mannequins androgynes, dont certains sont des hommes torse nu, portant un maquillage épais et charbonneux de longs cheveux lisses, trois filles portent des bérets. (Photo by Jean-Claude Deutsch/Paris Match via Getty Images)
John Galliano with models backstage at the Dior couture show, the Orangerie at Versailles, July 19, 1999. Photo: Jean-Claude Deutsch. Image: Paris Match via Getty Images.
Dior evening dress in satin and lime green glitter PVC, L'Officiel Sept 1999
Dior haute couture by John Galliano, L’Officiel, September 1999. Photo: Randall Bachner. Editors: Bernât Buscato and Luciano Neves. Image: jalougallery.com.
Molly Sims photographed in Christian Dior haute couture by John Galliano by Ruven Afanador
Dior haute couture by John Galliano on the cover of Vogue Paris, September 1999. Model: Molly Sims. Photo: Ruven Afanador. Image: Molly Sims.

It wasn’t until 2003’s big-budget sequel, The Matrix Reloaded, that Neo got his famous cassock coat.

Keanu Reeves as Neo on the cover of French Premiere, October 2003. Image: Famous Fix.

The first Matrix-inspired costume patterns came out in 2003.

Trinity, Neo, and Morpheus in a promo image for The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
Promotional image for The Matrix Reloaded (2003) Image: Foxtel Movies.

Simplicity’s Neo and Morpheus / “Men’s and Teen’s Duster” must have sold well: the pattern was rereleased with an updated envelope in 2017. (See top of post.) Now backlisted, it’s still available from the company website.

Morpheus and Neo costume pattern (The Matric Reloaded) - Simplicity 5386
Simplicity 5386 (2003) Matrix costumes. Image: Etsy.

Thanks to the sequel’s higher budget, Barrett designed Trinity’s pieces for better-quality PVCs (then newly available), with patent leather used for closeups. For the women’s pattern, Trinity’s PVC bustier-coat ensemble effectively devolves into its separate elements: a princess-seamed duster, corset top, and pants. The pattern calls for stretch vinyl, leather-like fabrics, and synthetic patent leather.

Trinity costume pattern (The Matrix Reloaded) - Simplicity 5380
Simplicity 5380 (2003) Matrix costume. Image: Etsy.

The following year, Butterick and McCall’s released men’s and children’s Neo patterns, but none for Trinity. Both cassock coats share an authentic, if painstaking touch: lots of covered buttons.

Witch + Neo from the Matrix costume pattern - Butterick 4314
Butterick 4314 (2004) Image: eBay.
Adult and children's Neo / Matrix costume - McCalls 4546
McCall’s 4546 (2004) Matrix costume. Image: eBay.

It would be another decade before Andrea Schewe designed a more accurate Trinity duster. Released in Simplicity’s 90th anniversary year, the PVC duster was paired with a Kingdom Hearts cosplay coat.

Kingdom Hearts and Trinity from the Matrix costume pattern - Simplicity 8482 (2017)
Simplicity 8482 (2017) Kingdom Hearts and Matrix costumes. Image: Etsy.

Here’s S8482 with more sci-fi (Firefly and Rogue One) in the seasonal catalogue:

Trinity, Zoe Washburne, Jyn Erso, and Kingdom Hearts costume patterns. Find the Adventure - Simplicity Autumn 2017 catalogue
Find the Adventure – S8482 and S8480 in Simplicity’s Autumn 2017 catalogue. Image: Simplicity.

There’s no word on the costume designer yet, but production on the new Matrix begins in 2020.

Trinity character poster featuring Carrie-Anne Moss - The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
The Matrix Reloaded Trinity character poster (2003) Image: IMDb.

Jill Kennington

Winter Looks: Jill Kennington in Vogue 1676 by Elio Berhanyer, Vogue Pattern Book International Winter 1966
Jill Kennington in Vogue 1676 by Elio Berhanyer, Vogue Pattern Book International, Winter 1966. Image: eBay.

British model-turned-photographer Jill Kennington turns 75 today.

Born and raised in Lincolnshire, Jill Kennington (b. 1943) moved to London at 18, working at Harrods and staying with her aunt, who was a buyer there. Scouted by Michael Whittaker, the founder of the Whittaker Enterprises agency, she was hired as a house model at Norman Hartnell before she could finish the agency course.

Vogue Pattern Book, UK edition, Summer 1966
Vogue Pattern Book International, Summer 1966. Image: Vintage Chic.

Kennington was one of two models in John Cowan’s famous shoot in the Canadian Arctic. (See the full editorial at vogue.com.) You might recognize her from Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up. (Read her reminiscences in Vanity Fair.)

"The Girl who went out in the cold" editorial - Georges Kaplan ostrich feather coat; Halston hat.
At Resolute Bay, Vogue, November 1964. Photo: John Cowan. Image: Pleasure Photo.
Jill Kennington (left) with Peggy Moffitt and other London models in Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up
Jill Kennington (left) in Blow-Up (1966) Image: Vanity Fair.

That’s Kennington in Emmanuelle Khanh’s dress pattern in Queen magazine. (Previously seen in my Butterick Young Designers post.)

Butterick Emmanuelle Khanhdress_pressphoto1965
Butterick 3718 by Emmanuelle Khanh, Queen, August 11, 1965. Image: Amazon.

Here she models some mod knitwear by Mary Quant:

Patons 101 Courtelle Double Knitting no. 9702 by Mary Quant (ca. 1966) - price 9d
Patons no. 9702 by Mary Quant (ca. 1966)

Kennington can be seen on some of Vogue’s earliest Givenchy patterns. This evening dress was also featured on the cover of the February retail catalogue:

1960s Givenchy evening dress pattern feat. Jill Kennington - Vogue Paris Original 1698
Vogue 1698 by Givenchy (1967)

In Vogue 1707 by Fabiani:

Jill Kennington in Vogue 1707 by Fabiani on the cover of the Vogue retail catalogue, April 1967
FABIANI 1707: Vogue Patterns catalogue, April 1967. Image: Etsy.

More Vogue Paris Originals and Couturier patterns featuring Kennington:

1960s Marc Bohan for Dior cerise dress suit pattern Vogue Paris Original 1725
Vogue 1725 by Marc Bohan for Christian Dior (1967) Image: eBay.
1960s Laroche dress and coat pattern Vogue Paris Original 1737
Vogue 1737 by Laroche (1967) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.
1960s Simonetta dress pattern Vogue Couturier Design 1746
Vogue 1746 by Simonetta (1967) Image: Blue Gardenia.
1960s Lanvin dress pattern Vogue Paris Original 1747
Vogue 1747 by Lanvin (1967) Image: eBay.

In a flight-themed British Vogue editorial, wearing Young Fashionables hooded jumpsuit Vogue 6376:

"Out of the Blue," Vogue UK Feb 1967 Traeger
Vogue 6376 in British Vogue, February 1967. Photo: Ronald Traeger. Image: Youthquakers.

Happy birthday, Ms. Kennington!

Jill Kennington photographed by Lichfield, 1964 - NPG London
Jill Kennington, 1964. Photo: Lichfield. Image: National Portrait Gallery.
Jill Kennington photographed by William Klein in Pierre Cardin, Weekend Telegraph, fall 1965
Is Paris dead? Jill Kennington in Pierre Cardin, Weekend Telegraph, September 3, 1965. Photo: William Klein. Image: eBay.
Jill Kennington photographed by Helmut Newton for Queen magazine, January 1966
Jill Kennington in Queen, January 5, 1966. Photo: Helmut Newton. Image: Pinterest.
1960s Queen Christmas cover featuring Jill Kennington photographed by David Montgomery
Jill Kennington on the cover of Queen‘s Christmas issue. Photo: David Montgomery. Image: eBay.