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.

Season of the Witch: Gothic Patterns

Dracula’s brides in Dracula (1931)
Dracula’s brides (Dorothy Tree, Geraldine Dvorak, and Cornelia Thaw) in Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931) Image: tumblr.

Happy Walpurgisnacht! On the eve of the feast of St. Walpurga, here’s a look at gothic sewing patterns.

Recent fashion exhibits have placed the gothic under increasing scrutiny. In 2008, the Museum at FIT presented Gothic: Dark Glamour. In 2014, the Costume Institute had Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire. Now there’s Gothic to Goth: Romantic Era Fashion and Its Legacy, an exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, accompanied by a catalogue by curator Lynne Z. Bassett and a talk by Valerie Steele. For more on the show, see Susan Hodara, “The (Forever) New Romantics.”

Gothic to Goth: Romantic Era Fashion & Its Legacy (book cover) by Lynne Zacek Bassett
Lynne Zacek Bassett, Gothic to Goth: Romantic Era Fashion & Its Legacy (Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 2016) Image: The Wadsworth.

1980s

With the advent of goth—or the New Romantics—in the late 1970s, fashion in a gothic mode began to show the influence of both romanticism and contemporary subculture. Nina Ricci’s romanticism turned dark in the early 1980s. I like to picture Vogue 2582 with granny boots and Siouxsie Sioux hair:

1980 Nina Ricci black ruffled dress pattern Vogue 2582
Detail, Vogue 2582 by Nina Ricci (1980) Image: PatternVault shop.
1980 Nina Ricci black ruffled dress pattern Vogue 2582
Vogue 2562 by Nina Ricci (1980) Image: PatternVault shop.

Vogue 2604, a floor-length strapless gown with attached sleeves, has a more Countess Bathory feel. The ruffle-trimmed version of Vogue 2604 was featured on the cover of Vogue Patterns’ holiday issue:

1980 Nina Ricci black off-the-shoulder gown pattern Vogue 2604
Vogue 2604 by Nina Ricci (1980) Image: eBay.
Vogue 2604 by Nina Ricci photographed by Ishimuro for the cover of Vogue Patterns Magazine Nov/Dec 1980
Vogue 2604 by Nina Ricci on the cover of Vogue Patterns, November/December 1980. Photo: Ishimuro. Image: eBay.

These early ’80s editorial photos convey the dark romantic mood:

Fascination du Noir: Nina Ricci couture photographed by Chris Simpson, September 1980
“Fascination du Noir”: Nina Ricci couture in L’Officiel, September 1980. Photo: Chris Simpson. Image: jalougallery.com.
Nina Ricci Boutique and Balenciaga photographed by Deborah Turbeville, 1982.
Nina Ricci Boutique and Balenciaga in L’Officiel, August 1982. Photo: Deborah Turbeville. Image: jalougallery.com.

Later in the decade, the fashionable oversized silhouette and low hemlines could express a moody romanticism. From Esprit, Simplicity 6978 is a loose jacket and long, full skirt. Shown in black, the ensemble is very Lydia from Beetlejuice:

1980s Esprit pattern - Simplicity 6978
Simplicity 6978 by Esprit (1985) Image: Etsy.
Lydia Deetz (Winona Ryder) with her Nikon camera in Tim Burton's Beetlejuice (1988)
Lydia Deetz (Winona Ryder) in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice (1988) Image: Goth Cupcake.

1990s

Judging from Vogue’s September issues for 1993, Fall ’93 marked a return to the lusher side of romanticism.

Vogue Paris Vogue US, and Vogue UK covers for Sept 1993 - Linda Evangelista by Max Vadukul and Steven Meisel, Christy Turlington by Mario Testino
Vogue Paris, American Vogue, and British Vogue covers, September 1993. Photos: Max Vadukul, Steven Meisel, and Mario Testino. Models: Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington. Images: Shrimpton Couture and The Fashion Spot.

Donna Karan’s Fall collection (presented just days after Eiko Ishioka won the costume design Oscar for Bram Stoker’s Dracula) featured lace accents, choker and cross accessories, and lots of black. Vogue 1293 is a long dress consisting of a body with attached, high-waisted skirt:

Early 1990s Donna Karan dress pattern - Vogue 1293
Vogue 1293 by Donna Karan (1993)

Similar Donna Karan dresses opened a British Vogue editorial shot by Mario Testino at Bolton Abbey, Derbyshire (headpieces by Slim Barrett):

"Courtly gestures" Perfectly plain: the right dresses have a top with the fit and ease of a body, and a dramatic bolt of fabric below the waist. High-neck, Empire-line dress in chestnut-brown velvet, opposite, left. Right, slash-neck wool gauze dress. Both by Donna Karan. (Headdresses Slim Barrett)
Nadja Auermann and Cecilia Chancellor wear Donna Karan in “Courtly Gestures,” British Vogue, December 1993. Photo: Mario Testino. Editor: Jayne Pickering. Image: The Fashion Spot.

This cold-shoulder gown must be from the same collection:

Donna Karan YSL feathers.
Poppy Lloyd wears Donna Karan (Yves Saint Laurent feathers), L’Officiel, December 1993. Photo: Nancy Le Vine. Image: jalougallery.com.

In the later 1990s, Anna Sui showed a fall collection inspired by goth subculture. From Fall 1997, Vogue 2072 combines a historicizing, Vivienne Westwood-style mini-crini with club-kid accessories. The dress was worn by the young Sofia Coppola (previously seen in my Anna Sui series and ’90s goth post):

1990s Anna Sui goth collection pattern - Vogue 2072
Vogue 2072 by Anna Sui (1997) Dress, top and gloves.
Karen Elson and Tasha Tilberg in goth looks from Anna Sui FW1997
Anna Sui FW 1997 collection. Models: Karen Elson, Tasha Tilberg. Images: Bolton, Anna Sui and firstVIEW.
Sofia Coppola wears goth Anna Sui in Spur magazine, October 1997
Sofia Coppola in Spur, October 1997. Photo: Satoshi Saikusa. Image: Bolton, Anna Sui.

Another element in the romantic/gothic repertoire is tzigane or ‘gypsy’ looks. From Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche for Spring 1999, Vogue 2330 is a long, flowing, off-the-shoulder dress. The envelope shows a mourning-appropriate mauve, but it was also shown in sheer black:

1990s Yves Saint Laurent off the shoulder maxi dress pattern Vogue 2330
Vogue 2330 by Yves Saint Laurent (1999)
Astrid Muñoz in Yves Saint Laurent
Inés Rivero in Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Spring 1999 runway. Image: firstVIEW.

Spring 1999 was Yves Saint Laurent’s last collection for Rive Gauche, and Mario Sorrenti’s valedictory advertising campaign for that season references great European paintings. Here the archetypically enigmatic Mona Lisa, dressed in black Rive Gauche, poses with a male model with Asian tattoos:

Noot Seear in Mario Sorrenti's Spring 1999 Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche ad campaign
Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche ad campaign, Spring 1999. Photo: Mario Sorrenti. Model: Noot Seear. Image: Pinterest.

Finally, in the late 1990s, Simplicity licensed designs from Begotten, a historically-inspired clothing line designed by Dilek Atasu. The patterns included a cape (S8987) and men’s poet shirt (S8615). Simplicity 8619, an empire gown with optional lower sleeve flounce, channels Mary Shelley:

1990s Begotten gothic dress pattern - Simplicity 8619
Simplicity 8619 by Begotten (1999) Image: Etsy.

In the 2000s, gothic sewing patterns shift away from mainstream fashion toward subcultural costume for “our own Romantic Revivals: Goth, that pas de deux with death, and Steampunk, a mating of Queen Victoria and Thomas Edison.”* Hammer Horror fans have “gothic costumes” McCall’s 3372 and McCall’s 3380; cybergoths can make dusters based on the costumes in The Matrix (1999) (Simplicity 5386, etc.); and Arkivestry and its offshoots cover everything from old-school gothic heroine to Loli to Steampunk.

Meanwhile, a gothic trend is predicted for Fall 2016. Are you ready?

* Laura Jacobs, Gothic to Goth exhibition review.