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.

Libération at 50

Yves Saint Laurent smoking and shorts, Libération (SS 1971 couture) "Les nouvelles vamps" photographed by Dominique Laporte, L'Officiel March 1971
Yves Saint Laurent smoking and shorts, Spring 1971 haute couture (Libération). “Les nouvelles vamps,” L’Officiel no. 583 (March 1971). Photo: Dominique Laporte. Image: jalougallery.com.

Yves Saint Laurent’s landmark Spring 1971 haute couture collection, Libération, is 50. For more on the designer’s Libération collection, see my 2015 post here.

Yves Saint Laurent 1971: la collection du scandale. Exposition du 19 mars au 19 juillet 2015 - Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent
Yves Saint Laurent 1971: la collection du scandale. Model: Willy Van Rooy. Photo: Hans Feurer.
John Cowan, Yves Saint Laurent Libération collection opening the Paris report in Vogue, March 15, 1971
Yves Saint Laurent Libération collection in Vogue, March 15, 1971. Photo: John Cowan. Image: Vogue Archive.

Saint Laurent unveiled the collection in Paris on January 29, 1971. Licensed Libération patterns were available from Vogue the next season, photographed by the late Frank Horvat.

1970s Yves Saint Laurent dress pattern - Vogue 2571
Vogue 2571 by Yves Saint Laurent (1971) Image courtesy of Paco Peralta.
1970s Yves Saint Laurent three-piece suit pattern - Vogue 2598
Vogue 2598 by Yves Saint Laurent (1971) Image courtesy of Paco Peralta.

The Libération dress pattern was also seen in this textiles ad:

Knit-Away: Your Personal Knitter. Polyester double-knit advertisement with Vogue 2571 by Yves Saint Laurent, 1971
Knit-Away ad featuring Vogue 2571 by Yves Saint Laurent, 1971.

But the most popular of the two designs was the signature suit. Gianni Penati photographed the pantsuit, made up in black velvet, at the Richard Feigen Gallery in New York.

Gianni Penati, Vogue 2598 velvet pantsuit by Yves Saint Laurent, 1971. Now you can have black velvet from one end of the day to the other.... A perfect pants tailleur, with a trim little blazer and cuffed legs, turned out today with a white turtleneck sweater (tonight, tomorrow—white silk shirt and tie, black satin ribbon in your hair.)... " Both velvets of Acele acetate and Enka rayon by Martin Fabrics. (Trifari earrings; sweater by Korrigan for Jax; shoulderbag by Bill Smith for Mark Cross; Yves Saint Laurent shoes.)
Black velvet for day: Vogue 2598 by Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue, August 15, 1971. Photo: Gianni Penati. Model: Lynn Woodruff. Image: Vogue Archive.

Saint Laurent’s smoking, reenvisioned as as an embroidered evening jacket, even made the cover of Vogue.

 Vogue purple logo; Model Lynn Woodruff wearing a Vogue Pattern embroidered fabric jacket with red ruffle rose; Max Factor make-up and hair by Arthur of Kenneth
Yves Saint Laurent evening jacket V2598 on the cover of Vogue, January 15, 1972. Photo: Gianni Penati. Model: Lynn Woodruff. Image: Vogue Archive.
Gianni Penati, Vogue 2598 jacket by Yves Saint Laurent, 1972.  KJL earrings, Echo Designs scarf; flower by Dulken and Derrick; Golo shoes. Roman Stripe tights.
Vogue 2598 by Yves Saint Laurent (Rive Gauche pants), Vogue, January 15, 1972. Photo: Gianni Penati. Model: Lynn Woodruff. Image: Vogue Archive.
John Cowan, Editha Dussler in Paris, Yves Saint Laurent Libération pantsuit, 1971.
Yves Saint Laurent Libération pantsuit in Vogue, March 15, 1971. Photo: John Cowan. Model: Editha Dussler. Image: Vogue Archive.