October 18, 2016 § 4 Comments
Last month, Rachel Comey celebrated her label’s 15-year anniversary with an outdoor presentation of unisex looks for Spring 2017. For home sewers, Comey’s ongoing licensing with Vogue Patterns has made her one to watch. Here’s a look at highlights of her patterns so far.
Born in Manchester, Connecticut, Rachel Comey (b. 1973) originally trained as a sculptor. After moving to New York, she consulted for Theory while designing clothes for local performers like Gogol Bordello—a connection that led her and the band to the Whitney Biennial. She launched her menswear collection in September, 2001, followed by women’s wear in 2004. Comey has developed a cult following for her footwear, prints, and general “bullshit-free kookiness.”
Comey was introduced to home sewers in the February/March 2010 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine with two patterns, Vogue 1161 and 1170:
The originals showcase Comey’s leopard and man-with-umbrella prints, both from the Fall 2009 collection.
Powerhouse Vogue 1247 includes an A-line miniskirt and the Navigator top, a design that was produced over multiple seasons (available in the shop):
Vogue 1298 is a pattern for Comey’s Tippet dress. (She also designed an open-backed Tippet top.) The Tippet is an apron dress with raised hem and straps drawn together in back:
The dress was shown in a different print in the Spring 2011 collection:
Also from 2012, Vogue 1323 is a top and pants ensemble consisting of the Syndicate blouse and cuffed Saunter pant. The trousers were also produced in textured velvet and various prints:
Vogue 1406, known as the Surveillance dress, has an asymmetrical neckline, back godet, and ruched waist detail:
Here’s the original star-print Surveillance dress on the Fall 2013 runway:
Comey’s batwing Wades dress is available as Vogue 1482. The diagonal front seam conceals a pocket:
From the same collection, Vogue 1507 includes the Bowtie top and slim pants with an asymmetrical front closure:
Vogue 1501 is a pattern for the Delane dress, a sleeveless, mock two-piece dress with pleating details. The original shows off Comey’s Collage print; the design was also produced with a contrast front bodice and in a single, solid colour:
The latest Rachel Comey pattern is a long-sleeved jumpsuit, Vogue 1523 (click to view in the shop):
The Botanical-print jumpsuit was part of the Fall 2015 collection’s closing look:
Interestingly, Comey was quoted in the New York Times’ recent article on the McCall Pattern Company (“Needle, Thread, Instagram“):
The New York designer Rachel Comey has licensed her patterns to McCall since 2010, where they appear under the Vogue Patterns brand. She didn’t do it for the money. “I just like the tradition of it,” Ms. Comey said. “Sewing is a great craft. It’s exciting and confidence building. I wanted to support it.”
Now if only we could source those Rachel Comey prints…
September 22, 2016 § 4 Comments
To celebrate the first day of autumn, here’s a vintage Butterick cover from fall, 1935.
The fur-collared cover look is Butterick 6399, “A brief and buttoned jacket, snugly fitted and collared with badger or wolf, plus a skirt worn shorter than the length you’re used to—these make the suit the epitome of fall chic.”
For more on vintage fur, both natural and faux, see Fur Cloth for Fall.
September 18, 2016 § 2 Comments
How to make the most of a beautiful print? As an early ’70s British Vogue editorial puts it, “Cape it… blouse it… kilt it.”
The Clive Arrowsmith editorial features Ann Schaufuss in three Vogue patterns that present the silhouettes of fall 1970 in glowing, ink-coloured prints. From Nina Ricci, Vogue 2406 is an “enveloping berber cape” and sleeveless dress made from two Staron fabrics in the same “glass-flower” print: a luxurious wool-viscose-polyamide for the cape and panne velvet for the dress, available at Harrods and Gasmey, London.
The second look pairs a yoked, full-sleeved blouse, Vogue 7538, and long Miss Vogue kilt Vogue 7889. The blouse is turquoise silk crepe de chine from Gasmey, while the kilt is Bombyx rayon panne velvet in a green and jewel-toned print, available at Liberty (boots to order at The Chelsea Cobbler):
The boho Baba Yaga look may not be to everyone’s taste, but velvet and early ’70s style are trends for fall 2016… Time to dig out some vintage prints?
(See Youthquakers for more of the October issue.)
August 28, 2016 § 2 Comments
This summer, after extensive renovations, the National Museum of Scotland opened its new galleries, including a Fashion and Style gallery. Jean Muir’s archive is housed in the museum, so the new gallery returns this important collection of her work to public view. To celebrate, I’ll be posting a two-part series on Jean Muir sewing patterns.
Though born in London, Jean Muir (1928-1995) is often called “the Scottish Chanel.” Muir began her career working at Liberty London. She was the designer for Jaeger before winning backing for her first label, Jane & Jane, in the early 1960s; she also designed for Morel London. In the fall of 1966 she founded her own company, Jean Muir Ltd. Acclaimed for her precise cut in jersey, leather, and suede, she preferred to be called a dressmaker.
Muir and her designs are featured in Life magazine’s 1963 portfolio (headlined “Brash New Breed of British Designers”) on what was then called the Chelsea Look.
Jean Muir licensed patterns with Butterick’s Young Designers line into the early 1970s.
In early 1965, Butterick introduced Jean Muir of Jane & Jane with four designs in the Spring 1965 catalogue (click to enlarge):
This simple Jane & Jane dress is accented with two narrow tucks above the hemline:
The tucks on Butterick 3609 recall the single, broad hemline tuck on this Jane & Jane dress photographed by David Bailey in Kenya:
This mod, A-line dress is trimmed with buttons and topstitching (click to view in the shop):
The young Grace Coddington posed in the sleeveless version for British Vogue:
Previously seen in my Celia Hammond post, this Jane & Jane dress has a standing neckline, raglan sleeves, and Muir’s trademark tiny button trim:
Within a year of founding her own company, Muir saw her double-breasted ‘cavalier’ coat on the cover of British Vogue:
With its shoulder yokes and double-breasted front, Butterick 5242 is a similar design:
Muir’s signature topstitching and shoulder yokes define the details on Butterick 4937, a sleeveless dress illustrated on the cover of the August 1968 news leaflet:
The pattern envelope shows the dress with and without the low-slung belt carriers:
David Bailey photographed a similar Jean Muir belted jumper in green Harris tweed:
Previously seen in my Mad Men-era Butterick Young Designers post, Butterick 5657 is the kind of fluid jersey dress Muir became known for:
The design is from Muir’s Fall 1969 collection—photographed here in cloud grey jersey:
Butterick 5954 was shown in both mini and midi lengths; the recommended fabrics include jersey, knit, and synthetic knits. The contrast cuffs and bib front give the opportunity for colour blocking or print mixing as in the Liberty-style illustration (available in the shop):
Before Butterick switched to illustrations only, there was a growing disparity in quality between pattern and editorial photography. Here it obscures the potential of Muir’s tucked and colour blocked peasant tunic:
Jeanloup Sieff photographed a similar dress-and-knickers ensemble for an editorial in Nova magazine:
The latest Jean Muir Young Designer pattern I’ve seen is Butterick 6398, a high-waisted dress with tiny self ruffles, button trim, and optional contrast sleeves and hemband:
I’ll close with this 1970 Norman Parkinson photo of a Jean Muir dress and turban in Monument Valley, in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery:
Next: Jean Muir’s Vogue Couturier patterns.
August 27, 2016 § Leave a comment
Farewell to Sonia Rykiel—designer, author, queen of knitwear. She will be missed.
August 16, 2016 § 1 Comment
In 1965, Brian Duffy photographed Pattie Boyd for a patterns editorial, “Cotton Landscape,” in British Vogue. The editorial opens with Boyd posing in Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses and an Op Art playsuit:
Boyd’s playsuit was made using Vogue 6491, a Young Fashionables pattern for a hooded ‘jump suit,’ bikini, skirt, and pants. As the caption says, “Powerhouse zigzags, electric pattern on a beach playsuit made to dazzle, not shock. Shorts shaped with a long front zip, smashing hood, and long cuffed sleeves.” The suit was made in Cepea navy and white cotton “with a Calpreta permanent sheen finish,” available from Bourne & Hollingsworth and Civil Service Stores.
For more of the June issue, see Youthquakers.
August 9, 2016 § 6 Comments
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.
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:
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:
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:
From Bill Blass, Vogue 1455 includes a two-piece swimsuit with bra top and bikini briefs:
John Kloss licensed a number of swimwear designs with Butterick. This ad promotes his patterns with a poolside photo of Butterick 4808:
Another Butterick designer, Gil Aimbez, designed this one-piece bathing suit. Contrast bias binding outlines the cut-away sides and bodice seaming detail:
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:
Both Penfold patterns can be seen in a Vogue Patterns editorial photographed in Antigua:
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:
The magazine recommended making the Catalina suits in Thompson of California’s “second skin Tic Toc warp knit polyester crepes” in various prints:
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):
Jerry Hall (right) seems to be wearing the view A style in this Basile ad photographed by Irving Penn:
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):
Finally, this early ’90s DKNY pattern, Vogue 2897, is labelled ‘dress and bodysuit,’ but was photographed as beachwear:
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…