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.

Anna Sui: Vogue Patterns, Part 1

Linda Evangelista in a mod skirt suit from Anna Sui's FW 1995 collection, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier
Linda Evangelista in Anna Sui, Harper’s Bazaar, August 1995. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier.

Anna Sui (b. 1955) is beloved for her playfully postmodern designs. Sui collections are typically full of eclectic, retro references—fun and accessible, but always with an alternative edge. (For a comprehensive discussion of Sui’s work see Andrew Bolton, Anna Sui [Chronicle Books, 2010].)

Anna Sui’s licensing agreement with Vogue Patterns lasted from the mid-1990s until quite recently. There were also Anna Sui knitting patterns, like this paillette-trimmed mohair sweater shown on the cover of Vogue Knitting magazine:

Red, paillette-trimmed Anna Sui sweater on the cover of Vogue Knitting, Winter 1998-99
Anna Sui sweater on the cover of Vogue Knitting, Winter 1998-99. Image: Vintageknits.net.

This two-part series will present some highlights from Anna Sui’s earlier Vogue patterns, ordered by collection.

1. Anna Sui, Spring/Summer 1995 collection

Anna Sui was introduced to readers of Vogue Patterns in the July/August 1995 issue with a design from her Spring 1995, vintage ’30s and ’40s collection. Inspirations for this collection included pulp magazines, waitress uniforms, and Minnie Mouse. The collection was notable for its use of textiles, which ranged from nylon pinstripes and rubberized chiffon to prints both rockabilly and haute: some of the dresses and skirts used 1940s prints that were designed by Christian Bérard for Ascher Ltd and specially recoloured for the collection.

Vogue 1619 is a pattern for four dresses with vintage details like cut-in shoulders and puffed or tucked sleeves. The red, bouquet print in the large photo is by Christian Bérard. Vogue later proclaimed the “1940s floral look” the look of the season*:

1990s Anna Sui dress pattern - Vogue 1619
Vogue 1619 by Anna Sui (1995) Image: PatternVault shop.

Here’s the Bérard print dress on the runway, complete with red shoes worn with pink socks:

Red print dress by Anna Sui, SS 1995 collection
A dress from Anna Sui’s Spring 1995 collection. Image: New York Daily News.

Vogue 1619 made the cover of Vogue Patterns’ September 1995 catalogue:

Anna Sui's Vogue 1619 on the cover of Vogue Patterns catalogue, September 1995
Vogue Patterns catalogue, September 1995. Image: eBay.

Just for fun, here’s a photo of Nicole Kidman in one of the spring collection’s pinstripe suits:

Nicole Kidman in Anna Sui pinstripe suit, sequinned cami, with hat and faux stole, photographed by Steven Meisel Vogue February 1995
Nicole Kidman in Anna Sui, Vogue, February 1995. Photo: Steven Meisel. Fashion editor: Grace Coddington.

2. Anna Sui, Fall/Winter 1995 collection

For Fall 1995 Sui presented a Mod collection. The show opened with Linda Evangelista on the back of a Lambretta scooter and continued with skinny mod suits and pieces in black leather and sequinned camo, referencing Andy Warhol’s camouflage screenprints.

Vogue 1702’s mod suit includes a front-pleated skirt and sleeveless top—best worn with a matching headscarf (as shown with Vogue 1789):

1990s Anna Sui jacket and pleated skirt pattern - Vogue 1702
Vogue 1702 by Anna Sui (1995) Image: Etsy.

Linda Evangelista was photographed in the Vogue 1702 suit by Patrick Demarchelier (see top of post). A tweed version was modelled by Stella Tennant:

Stella Tennant in Anna Sui, with rubber boots and fishing rod, photographed by Arthur Elgort, 1995
Stella Tennant in Anna Sui, Vogue, October 1995. Photo: Arthur Elgort. Fashion editor: Grace Coddington.

3. Anna Sui, Fall/Winter 1997 collection

Sui’s ‘goth’ collection was presented at the Church of Divine Paternity, a neo-Gothic church on New York’s Upper West Side. Siouxie Sioux was a major inspiration for the show, which had post-punk makeup by François Nars and a wealth of textiles characteristic of old-school goth style, such as velvet, lace, lace-printed chiffon, and fishnet. As Bolton notes, the collection referenced the goth love of historicism in Vivienne Westwood-style bustles and ‘mini-crinis.’

Vogue 2072 is a pattern for two mini-crini dresses trimmed with ribbon and lace. It even includes the mesh top and fingerless gloves (see my earlier post here):

1990s Anna Sui dress, top and gloves pattern - Vogue 2072
Vogue 2072 by Anna Sui (1997)

Karen Elson and Tasha Tilberg modelled the Vogue 2072 dresses on the runway, accessorized with matching fingerless gloves, sheer leggings, and beaded devil horns:

Karen Elson and Tasha Tilberg on the runway, Anna Sui FW 1997
Models: Karen Elson, Tasha Tilberg. Images: Bolton, Anna Sui and firstVIEW.

The red, view B version of the Vogue 2072 dress, complete with Sui devil horns, was photographed on a young Sofia Coppola:

Sofia Coppola photographed by Satoshi Saikusa, Spur magazine, October 1997
Sofia Coppola, Spur, October 1997. Photo: Satoshi Saikusa. Image: Bolton, Anna Sui.

4. Anna Sui, Spring/Summer 1998 collection

For spring 1998 Sui presented a surfer-inspired collection. Bold prints, bright colours, and bucket hats conveyed the laid-back spirit of surfer subculture, with Hawaiian, Indian, and Balinese prints and accessories evoking days spent on tropical beaches.

Vogue 2152’s three summery little dresses are like a mini vacation wardrobe:

1990s Anna Sui summer dress pattern - Vogue 2152
Vogue 2152 by Anna Sui (1998) Image: Etsy.

Here are two of the Vogue 2152 dresses on the runway. The slip dress in view B was worn with a long-sleeved mesh top:

Kylie Bax and Christina Kruse on the runway, Anna Sui SS 1998
Anna Sui SS 1998. Models: Kylie Bax and Christina Kruse. Images: firstVIEW.

Kate Moss wears another dress from the collection in this editorial photo by Terry Richardson:

Strapless silk sari dress with gold appliqués, Terry Richardson photo of Kate Moss in Anna Sui, Harper's Bazaar, January 1998
Kate Moss in Anna Sui, Harper’s Bazaar, January 1998. Photo: Terry Richardson. Image: Bolton, Anna Sui.

The gold-appliquéd pink sari silk was inspired by a dress belonging to the Duchess of Windsor, again bringing home the wide-ranging eclecticism of Sui’s references.

Next: Anna Sui’s Vogue patterns into the 2000s.

* Katherine Betts, “The best & worst looks of the ’90s,” Vogue, January 1996, p. 130.