March 12, 2018 § 3 Comments
Farewell to Hubert de Givenchy, truly one of the greats.
Read the couturier’s Vogue Paris obituary.
January 2, 2018 § Leave a comment
British model-turned-photographer Jill Kennington turns 75 today.
Born and raised in Lincolnshire, Jill Kennington (b. 1943) moved to London at 18, working at Harrods and staying with her aunt, who was a buyer there. Scouted by Michael Whittaker, the founder of the Whittaker Enterprises agency, she was hired as a house model at Norman Hartnell before she could finish the agency course.
Kennington was one of two models in John Cowan’s famous shoot in the Canadian Arctic. (See the full editorial at vogue.com.) You might recognize her from Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up. (Read her reminiscences in Vanity Fair.)
That’s Kennington in Emmanuelle Khanh’s dress pattern in Queen magazine. (Previously seen in my Butterick Young Designers post.)
Here she models some mod knitwear by Mary Quant:
Kennington can be seen on some of Vogue’s earliest Givenchy patterns. This evening dress was also featured on the cover of the February retail catalogue:
In Vogue 1707 by Fabiani:
More Vogue Paris Originals and Couturier patterns featuring Kennington:
In a flight-themed British Vogue editorial, wearing Young Fashionables hooded jumpsuit Vogue 6376:
Happy birthday, Ms. Kennington!
June 15, 2014 § 5 Comments
It’s been some time since Vogue offered designer menswear patterns. In the 1970s and 1980s, home sewers could choose from licensed designs for everything from men’s shirts to outerwear and three-piece suits. In celebration of Father’s Day, here’s a selection of vintage menswear patterns from Vogue Patterns.
Vogue introduced designer menswear patterns in the early 1970s with designs by Bill Blass and Pierre Cardin. From Cardin, Vogue 2918 is a double-breasted coat in two lengths:
1975 saw the release of some his-and-hers Valentino patterns. Vogue 1180, a men’s jacket and pants pattern, was photographed with a women’s Valentino ensemble, Vogue 1178:
Polo by Ralph Lauren was introduced to Vogue customers in the summer of 1975. The safari-style Vogue 1237 and 1238 were photographed in India:
Also by Polo Ralph Lauren, Vogue 1581 is a double-breasted trench coat with detachable lining:
This Christian Dior shirt-jacket and pants is the only men’s Dior pattern I’ve seen:
This snappy three-piece suit is by Bill Blass:
There were two menswear patterns by Yves Saint Laurent: safari suits photographed by Chris von Wangenheim (see Paco’s related post here):
Givenchy licensed a trim three-piece suit, Vogue 2112:
In 1979 the company released a trio of menswear patterns by Calvin Klein—separate patterns for a shirt, jacket, and pants. Vogue 2256 is a pattern for slim, tapered men’s pants; view B is low-rise and flat-front:
The menswear releases tapered off in the 1980s. 1980 saw the release of two Bill Blass men’s patterns, for a three-piece suit and close-fitting shirt:
In 1988 Vogue released three menswear patterns by Perry Ellis, for a jacket, shirt, and pants. Vogue 2207 is a loose-fitting jacket:
Just for fun, I’ll close with this Pierre Cardin robe and pajamas, which included a logo appliqué:
With menswear sales catching up with womenswear, perhaps Vogue Patterns will capitalize on this trend by restoring menswear to its designer licensing. I’d be first in line for a Saint Laurent pattern…
Happy Father’s Day!
August 23, 2013 § 25 Comments
The slogan for McCall’s Patterns in the mid-1950s was “Make the clothes that make the woman.” The advertising campaign with this slogan shows two identical women, one dressed in McCall’s pattern pieces, the other in the finished garment. It’s a charming campaign from the Golden Age of Advertising. Here’s a selection, in roughly chronological order:
This ad from 1956 shows the model enjoying a fresh strawberry at a party. (Could it be a strawberry social?) The pattern is McCall’s 3562:
The September ad shows Dovima on a trip to Paris, before a mustachioed gendarme. The pattern is McCall’s 3785 by Givenchy:
Another travel-themed ad shows McCall’s 3790 with some whimsically stacked luggage:
This 1957 ad featuring McCall’s 3952 shows a well-dressed tug-of-war:
This Valentine’s Day-themed ad appeared in Vogue’s March 1957 issue. (The pattern is McCall’s 3967.) The model is Suzy Parker:
This spring ad shows McCall’s 4046 by James Galanos:
In the ad for May 1957, the binocular-wielding model wears an “Instant” dress, McCall’s 4070:
This late summer ad looks forward to fall’s collegiate sports games. The design is by Claire McCardell, McCall’s 4208:
Within its variations on the playfully presented scene of leisure, the campaign conveys a visual reminder of one of McCall’s long-standing technologies: the printed pattern. (McCall’s had been producing printed patterns since the 1920s, whereas Vogue only introduced printed patterns in 1956—later outside North America.) Have you seen other ads from this McCall’s campaign?
December 3, 2012 § 13 Comments
Since Naomi was going as Daenerys Targaryen, this Halloween I went as Quaithe from George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire. Quaithe is a minor character from shadowy Asshai who meets Daenerys near Qarth; she makes repeated appearances to deliver cryptic prophecies.
In the books Quaithe is hardly described at all apart from her red lacquered mask, so I had a lot of freedom. Asshai, in the fantasy world’s mysterious east, is known for its worship of R’hllor, a fire religion with Zoroastrian echoes. After doing some research into ancient Persian costume, which showed periodic Greek influences, I opted to use my Very Easy late ’70s Givenchy evening dress pattern, Vogue 2014:
The design may be from the Spring 1978 collection, judging from the similar halter neckline in this campaign image:
For fabric, I used black Qiana from a deadstock bolt found on Etsy. Qiana is a vintage nylon, a synthetic silk with a little stretch. It’s even in keeping with the ‘exotic’ Qs of the fantasy series.
As a Very Easy Vogue pattern, Vogue 2014 has very simple construction, but also lots of hand-finishing. The hem and slits at top and bottom front are slipstitched, the top edge is blindstitched to the inside bodice, and the back facings and extension are slipstitched over the hooks and eyes that fasten the halter.
I made the size 12 with no alterations, and it worked out just fine. The lines of gather stitching at the ends of the halter fastening are visible, as I discovered, so if I made the dress again I would mark them rather than doing my usual winging it.
Instead of using the 18-inch tassel the pattern calls for, I strung together some mesh beads from Arton Beads on Queen Street West. With stainless steel spacer beads the strand is fairly heavy, but I like the effect when it’s fastened to the back extension.
Naomi found me a shimmery red mask at Malabar, and within a day or so I had a costume:
Here are some detail shots of the bodice and back:
Many thanks to our fabulous photographer, Rachel O’Neill, for a fantastic beach shoot in mid-November!
(Cross-posted to We Sew Retro.)
July 9, 2012 § 7 Comments
One of the fun aspects of vintage patterns is that they sometimes show famous models, familiar to us from the pages of major fashion publications and the work of top photographers. This is the first in an occasional series on prominent models and commercial sewing patterns.
Gia Carangi (1960-1986) is sometimes called the first supermodel. (Cindy Crawford was nicknamed ‘Baby Gia’ when she first moved to New York.) There’s even a blog devoted to her editorials. Starting in 1978, the year of her first major fashion shoot—the Chris von Wangenheim chain link fence shoot dramatized in the HBO movie Gia—Carangi also did some work for Vogue Patterns.
The November/December 1978 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine has a few pages featuring Gia Carangi, including an Arthur Elgort portfolio showing Vogue 2008 by Bill Blass. In most cases, Carangi was photographed for editorials only, but she can be seen on a few Vogue patterns:
Carangi also shot some Vogue Patterns editorials with Andrea Blanch which appeared in Vogue magazine in 1978 and 1979. Here are some of her editorial images promoting designer patterns—two Calvin Klein patterns, Vogue 1878 and Vogue 2027, and Vogue 1988 by Yves Saint Laurent. The Vogue 2027 coat was shortened for the photo shoot:
This May 1979 editorial image shows Vogue 2040, a tunic by Edith Head, made up in sheer black silk marquisette:
The famous “Dead” photo was also part of a Vogue Patterns editorial (in the same issue as the Dalmatian photo shown above; the latter shows Vogue 2060, a top by Yves Saint Laurent). The patterns are two Calvin Klein designs: Vogue 1990, a wrap dress, and the pants from Vogue 2027:
Click the images to see more Gia Carangi/Vogue Patterns editorial photos.
April 23, 2012 § 4 Comments
Lately I’ve been listing a lot of mid-century vintage patterns in the shop, including this 1950s Givenchy pattern from McCall’s:
Inside the pattern envelope is an insert introducing Hubert de Givenchy and detailing the production process for these McCall’s “exclusives.” The insert doesn’t mention that Givenchy is a French aristocrat. Instead, it proclaims he was “born to the fashion tradition,” noting his family’s connection to the Beauvais Tapestry Works and his experience at the Parisian couture houses of Jacques Fath, Robert Piguet, and Elsa Schiaparelli.
The insert is emphatic that these French designs are suitable for Americans: “French in feeling and typically Givenchy, they’re still easy to make and easy to wear—admirably suited to the American way of life because Givenchy designed them especially for McCall’s and for you.”
We are told how, in 1956, the “tall, blond young Frenchman” flew to America for a tour of McCall’s facilities, then flew back to Paris to create his first exclusive series of designs for the company. The designer constructs his toile on an American dress form; he also produces a finished garment using American fabric. Both toile and garment are “air-expressed” to McCall’s headquarters in New York City. A paper pattern is made from half the toile, and the resulting prototype is compared against the designer’s original.
The last section of the insert, headed “Your Spring Wardrobe Designed by Givenchy,” gives an illustration and description for each of the four spring patterns:
“Givenchy’s all-day ‘runabout frock’ in lightweight flannel. Typical of this dynamic young designer: the wonderful line in the roll-away collar, the way the high-waisted young sash buttons onto the dress. You might also make it in linen or shantung.”
“A suit that cries ‘Givenchy’ in every line. Look at the inimitable cut of the jacket, the rolling curve of the collar. Another Givenchy inspiration: grosgrain-bound buttonholes an inch and a half wide. Givenchy suggests silk or rayon suiting.”
“Givenchy’s young-in-heart evening gown for any age, the belling skirt curved in a prophetic cut-away hemline. Givenchy chose a paper-crisp taffeta, but you could also use polished cotton, silk or satin. The pattern includes a beautifully shaped petticoat.” (4007) “Two flightly [sic] little bow-knots hint at a high waistline on this afternoon frock with bell-shaped skirt buoyed by its own print-bordered petticoat. Givenchy selected a printed tissue-weight taffeta, also suggests silk surah or peau de soie.” (4006)
It’s interesting to see how McCall’s production process for designer patterns differs from Vogue’s, as described in my earlier post. Vogue claimed to adjust Paris originals for American figures, whereas McCall’s exclusives were made directly on an American dress form. Apparently national differences were still an issue, and McCall’s felt it had to address postwar patriotism, even amid continued demand for European designer fashions.