August 10, 2017 § Leave a comment
Betsey Johnson turns 75 today. Four decades on, the designer’s 1970s Butterick patterns are still very popular. Here’s a look at Johnson’s early work, with an emphasis on more seldom seen archival images.
Betsey Johnson (b. 1942) has made a career of creating irreverent, youth-oriented clothes that stand a bit outside the mainstream. She learned sewing and pattern drafting while running a dance school as a teen, but got her official start in the business designing for Youthquake boutique Paraphernalia. By 1970 she was the designer for Alley Cat, a junior sportswear label. (For more see Vogue.com and Anne-Marie Schiro, “Betsey Johnson: Honor for a Life of Celebrating Youth.”)
In 1971, Johnson won a Coty Award for her work at Alley Cat (see the New York Times notice). The following year, Butterick launched its Betsey Johnson patterns in the Spring 1972 catalogue. The designs were also cross-promoted (along with Cyrus Clark cotton chintz) with a Barbara Bordnick editorial in Seventeen magazine.
The earliest of Johnson’s Butterick Young Designer patterns refer to her as Betsey Johnson of Alley Cat, and most seem to predate the founding of her company in 1978. Here’s Butterick 6979 on the cover of the March 1973 issue of Butterick’s news leaflet:
The young Patti Hansen in Alley Cat:
One of the first items I sold on Etsy was this 1975 issue of Butterick Fashion News with a Betsey Johnson cover. (Click to see inside.) The same embroidered pinafore was featured on the home catalogue cover:
The pinafore also appears in this cute advertisement with Butterick 4088:
The Spring 1976 catalogue used illustrated photographs to present this DIY series, which also included a hat and shoes (1st page, Butterick 4680; 3rd page Butterick 4681, with Joyce Walker on the right):
Another 1976 Butterick ad shows a Betsey Johnson jumper (Butterick 4956) with deep ribbon trim—perfect for a late-summer Cape Cod getaway:
Happy birthday, Betsey Johnson!
With thanks to Heidi at Gold Country Girls.
August 7, 2017 § 4 Comments
Have you seen the new Fall patterns? I post the designer photos to the @PatternVault Twitter. From now on, they’ll also have a more permanent home here on the blog.
(Speaking of Twitter, I’ve started posting non-fashion tweets to a new, personal account: @DrSarahSheehan.)
Simplicity’s latest Cynthia Rowley pattern came out after the Summer 2017 release and branded for the company’s 90th anniversary celebrations. The pintuck ruffle dress was seen in short and maxi lengths in Rowley’s Resort 2016 collection.
The setting for William Eadon’s photos might look familiar from The Royal Tenenbaums: the grand staircase of Brooklyn’s Grand Prospect Hall was the location where Margot went out for ice cream.
Vogue’s new Guy Laroche pattern is an off-the-shoulder dress from the Spring 2016 collection, Adam Andrascik’s second for the house.
For a biker look—an Andrascik trademark—try it in leather with chain accents:
Or cut off below the waistband to make a jacket:
Rachel Comey fans are spoiled for choice with three new Rachel Comey patterns. Vogue’s Fall lookbook cover shows Comey’s Karloff coat in Pre-Fall 2016’s floral brocade. One of the coat’s earliest incarnations was in buffalo plaid with camel contrast:
Two of the Comey patterns are from the Fall 2016 collection—which will be familiar to those of you who follow Anne at Pretty Grievances.
V1556 is a raw-hemmed, sleeveless dress shown worn as a jumper. With sleeves it becomes the Cumberland dress.
The pleated, bishop-sleeved Bartram dress is pure sewist bait in silk jersey.
Update on shopping local: Thanks to everyone who’s provided me with updated information about designer royalties from pattern sales. Since publishing this post, I’ve learned that Simplicity pays royalties to all licensed designers, including on web sales.
For other brands: if you would like to know whether royalties are being paid for online sales of designer patterns, you could contact the companies directly for more information.
July 26, 2017 § 3 Comments
This week’s post-Comic-Con models post looks at Dutch model-turned-actor Famke Janssen.
Born in Amstelveen, Famke Janssen (b. 1964) studied economics at the University of Amsterdam before moving to the United States to pursue a modelling career. She signed with Elite in 1984. Returning to university in the early 1990s, Janssen gravitated toward drama; she went on to win starring roles in Star Trek: The Next Generation, GoldenEye (1995), and the X-Men franchise.
Janssen did some modelling work for Butterick in the late 1980s: bridal and designer suits and formal wear by Ronnie Heller, Nicole Miller, and Morton Myles.
Just for fun, here’s an ’80s editorial image featuring Janssen:
July 20, 2017 § Leave a comment
A late ’60s loungewear pattern is the star of “Making Up a Legend,” photographed for British Vogue by David Bailey.
Celia Hammond wears Vogue 7430, made up in wave-patterned Schwarzenbach brocade in green and gold Lurex, with gold Mary Quant tights pulled up to cover the bare midriff. The gold belt is by the late, great Kenneth Jay Lane.
(See Youthquakers for more from this issue.)
June 11, 2017 § 5 Comments
Summer means weddings and infinity dresses—or, if a couple is particularly on-trend, infinity bridesmaid jumpsuits.
China Machado’s summer 1973 resort set was a precursor to the infinity garments of the mid-1970s. Like the infinity dress and its cousins, Machado’s pieces call for two-way stretch knits; but Grace Mirabella’s Vogue featured the design in muslin, as worn by Beverly Johnson:
Lydia Silvestry trademarked “The Infinite Dress” and licensed it with McCall’s in 1976. As the pattern envelope says, “One size dress can be worn an infinite number of ways. See enclosed guide sheet illustrating 13 ways dress can be worn, or try creating your personal version.” (See Carmen Bouchard / Carmencita B’s posts about this pattern here.)
Silvestry also licensed her infinite jumpsuit as a pattern featuring Maud Adams. I think this pattern has my favourite fabric note: For best results use a Lightweight, Non-cling Stretchable Jersey-type Knit Fabric such as Rosewood Fabric’s LA GRAND QUE of 100% QIANA, Burlington’s AMBROSIA of 100% Dacron Polyester, Millikin’s SURE THING of 100% Dacron Polyester. (Click to view in the shop.)
From Carol Horn, this dress has strapless and colour blocking options:
Also one-size, the Seven Way Wonder Dress seems to have been Butterick’s answer to the Infinite Dress. A winter retail catalogue shows the Wonder Dress as black tie wear:
Meanwhile, Simplicity had the Wonder Wrap Jiffy Jumpsuit and Jiffy Multi-Wrap Dress:
Vogue released two Very Easy infinite dress patterns in spring, 1977:
Vogue 1641 is seldom seen, despite being illustrated by Antonio and photographed in Antigua for Vogue Patterns magazine:
Is that Patti Hansen modelling the Glamour Plus Dress?
Fast forward to 2000, when McCall’s released an infinite dress by Debra Moises (Debra and Moises Diaz). The envelope shows 5 variations:
In early 2011, the New York Times ran a story about the trend for convertible garments (see Ruth La Ferla, “Convertible Clothing Is a New Twist for the Cost-Conscious“). Butterick featured an infinite dress (now out of print) on the cover of that year’s Spring catalogue:
Last summer, as part of their Archive Collection, McCall’s reissued their 1970s-era infinite dress and jumpsuit as a single pattern (still in print). These patterns are usually adapted somewhat from the vintage originals:
It’s easy to see why infinity dresses remain popular, with their carefree resort vibe and minimal fitting requirements. And on the pattern envelopes, the hall of mirrors effect never gets old, does it?
For more discussion and links, see Michelle Lee’s post.
May 4, 2017 § Leave a comment
Pucci has been in the news this week with the announcement that Josephus Thimister will consult on the next collection, following the departure in April of head designer Massimo Giorgetti. (See WWD.) The house of Pucci is also celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.
Before becoming a Vogue Couturier in the 1960s, Emilio Pucci designed exclusive patterns for McCall’s. Howell Conant photographed Pucci’s earliest pattern designs, including the harlequin dress above, for McCall’s Pattern Book. For more on Pucci see my Mad Men-era series post, The Europeans.
Happy 70th anniversary, Pucci!
March 14, 2017 § 6 Comments
Word is Guy Laroche patterns are set to return after a two-year hiatus. (The last Laroche, and last Paris Original, to be released was V1450 in Summer, 2015.) In anticipation, my ongoing Laroche series resumes with a look at the early 2000s designs of Mei Xiao Zhou.
Born in the Netherlands, Mei Xiao Zhou came to a career in fashion after working as a ballet dancer and video director in New York and Tokyo. He spent six years as an assistant to Thierry Mugler before he was hired as head designer at Guy Laroche. (See WWD, “Guy Laroche Taps Zhou.”)
Zhou designed two collections for Laroche, both presented in 2001.
1. Guy Laroche Prêt-à-porter Fall/Winter 2001 (shown March 2001)
Mei Xiao Zhou’s first collection for Laroche radiated energy, with vibrant colour and prints underlining the skillful cut. (See WWD, “Static State, Forties-Something, and the ‘Casino’ Factor.”) Here’s the collection image from L’Officiel 1000 modèles:
The hardest to find of Zhou’s Laroche patterns, Vogue 2650 is a bias-cut, halter-neck wrap dress that can be made in cocktail and evening length (both size ranges available in the shop):
Vogue 2668’s trouser suit includes a short jacket with three-quarter sleeves. On the runway, the revers on the red version revealed a flash of sequins:
Vogue 2689 is a sleek skirt suit with concealed closure and clavicle-framing standing collar. The skirt has a zippered side slit:
L’Officiel included one of Zhou’s op-art print pieces in the Sixties-inspired editorial “Mille neuf cent soixante-trois“:
2. Guy Laroche Prêt-à-porter Spring/Summer 2002 (shown October 2001)
For his romantic second collection for Laroche, Zhou covered the runway in water, sending out looks with an Asian influence in a palette of white, yellow, ochre, chocolate brown, and black. (See L’Officiel 1000 modèles and AP, “Louis Vuitton Show Goes Creative.”) Here’s the collection image:
The Spring 2002 campaign echoed the runway’s aquatic motif:
Because this collection is not well documented online, it’s difficult to identify corresponding sewing patterns. Vogue 2752 looks to be one of the canary yellow suits, with flared kimono sleeves and rounded lapels that match descriptions of the show:
Although I can’t confirm it, Vogue 2736 may also be a Spring 2002 design. The jacket has a bustier-effect bias inset, and the pants have high slits in the back seams:
Mei Xiao Zhou brought the verve of Mugler to his runway shows for Laroche. Although his first collection was well received, the house was sold to a new parent company, which hired a new designer for Fall 2002 (Laetitia Hecht). Like other designer patterns of this period, Zhou’s Laroche patterns highlight the widening gulf between catwalk and sewing-editorial styling—which is ultimately the gulf between the fashion and home sewing industries.
Previous Laroche posts: