I Heart Disco

McCall’s 4046 by Halston (1974)
From McCall’s 4046 by Halston (1974).

This week, some favourite disco patterns!

The term ‘disco’ is a little nebulous. Disco music was popular from the mid-1970s to about 1980. Its huge popularity led to an anti-disco backlash that’s come to be symbolized by Disco Demolition Night, a.k.a. the ‘Disco Riots,’ which took place in the summer of 1979 (see Jo Meek, “Earth, Wind and Pyre,” and Joe Lapointe, “The Night Disco Went Up in Smoke”). Studio 54, the famous New York City nightclub that effectively stands for disco hedonism today, was open from 1977 until 1986. In this slideshow, you can see Andy Warhol partying at the club with Bianca Jagger, Liza Minelli, and Halston, as well as Diana Ross, Deborah Harry, and even a young Tom Ford.

For the purposes of this post, I’m going by my personal definition of disco style: glam evening wear that’s more party girl than society doyenne, all from the mid-’70s to the early ’80s. As I edited down my initial list I found the best designs shared elements like fluid draping and halter necks or one-shouldered bodices. Also, of the seven patterns, three are jumpsuits or give the impression of being a jumpsuit. Here’s my disco patterns best-of, ordered chronologically:

1. Vogue 2870 – Lanvin, 1973. Modelled by Karen Bjornson. Bjornson, who is virtually ubiquitous on later ’70s Vogue Patterns, was Halston’s house model. The (fantastic) photo makes the design look like a jumpsuit, but the pattern is actually for evening separates: palazzo pants with no side seams and a halter top with a wide midriff band that gives a cummerbund effect.

Vogue 2870 by Lanvin (1973) Evening top and pants
Vogue 2870 by Lanvin (1973) Evening top and pants. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

2. Vogue 2014 – Givenchy, 1978. Modelled by the young Gia Carangi, the late, queer supermodel who was brought back to the spotlight by the HBO movie Gia starring Angelina Jolie. This gorgeous evening dress has a crisscrossed halter neck and calls for an eighteen-inch tassel down the back. I have this one in my collection and plan to make it sometime in a silk or viscose jersey, but I think I need to learn to make tassels first.

Vogue 2014 by Givenchy (1978)
Vogue 2014 by Givenchy (1978). Evening dress for stretch knits. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

3. Vogue 2173 – Chloé, 1979. No disco collection could be complete without this design by Karl Lagerfeld for Chloé. The one-shouldered evening dress comes with a reversible contrast shawl. I don’t know why, but to me this is the perfect late seventies-early eighties colour combination.

1970s Chloé evening dress pattern - Vogue 2173
Vogue 2173 by Chloé (1979). Evening dress, tie, and shawl. Image: momspatterns.

4. Vogue 2307 – Givenchy, 1979. Modelled by Tara Shannon. Another beautifully fluid Givenchy design, with the asymmetrical, one-shouldered bodice balanced by draping at the opposite hip. This is another one in my collection; I have a length of deep purple chiffon (originally used in a Hallowe’en costume) that’s just enough to make the cocktail version, but I haven’t yet found the occasion where I could get away with that much purple chiffon.

Vogue 2307 by Givenchy (1979)
Vogue 2307 by Givenchy (1979). One-shouldered cocktail or evening dress. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

5. Vogue 2313 – Yves Saint Laurent, 1979. Modelled by Tara Shannon. A fabulous opera coat and evening dress ensemble with tie-halter and bow bodice. I love the sorbet colours, graphics and over-the-top drama of this pattern.

Vogue 2313 by Yves Saint Laurent (1979). Evening dress and coat
Vogue 2313 by Yves Saint Laurent (1979). Evening dress and coat. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

6. Vogue 2375 – Gianni Versace, 1980. Not a true jumpsuit as I thought (thanks, Dustin!) but a halter neck top and pants with tapered legs, side draping and matching jacket. Check out the illustration’s matching sandals and tone-on-tone, contrast satin cummerbund.

Vogue 2375 by Gianni Versace (1980)
Vogue 2375 by Gianni Versace (1980) Jacket, top, and pants. Image: eBay.

7. Vogue 1014 – Yves Saint Laurent, circa 1982. My notes say this is a top and pleated harem pants but, as the photo shows, it definitely has a jumpsuit effect when made in a single fabric and worn with the top tucked in. It’s interesting to see cuffed and pleated harem pants in the wake of the recent draped harem pants trend. Are we having a disco moment?

Vogue 1014 by Yves Saint Laurent
Vogue 1014 by Yves Saint Laurent (ca. 1982). Top and harem pants. Image: eBay.

John Galliano for Givenchy: Vogue Patterns

Shalom Harlow in Givenchy Fall 1996 couture by John Galliano.

John Galliano’s designs for Givenchy were the first to alert me to the fact that Vogue designer patterns can replicate high fashion designs. When I saw this dress—on Shalom Harlow on the runway and later on Linda Evangelista in Vogue

John Galliano's dress for Givenchy Haute Couture Steven Meisel photo Grace Coddington stylist Linda Evangelista model
John Galliano designs a hand-pleated, double-layered mousseline dress with Juliet sleeves. Dress by Givenchy Haute Couture by John Galliano. Vogue, December 1996. Photo: Steven Meisel. Fashion Editor: Grace Coddington.

and this Vogue Paris Original in my mother’s subscription copy of Vogue Patterns

1990s Givenchy dress pattern by John Galliano - Vogue 1978
Vogue 1978 by John Galliano for Givenchy (1999) Empire dress. Image: PatternVault shop.

I felt the thrill of discovery and rushed off to buy the sewing pattern. I still have it, and still plan to make it up. At the time, I thought Vogue Patterns had altered the design by adding the bodice inset, but it’s actually from a different collection.

John Galliano produced only four collections for the house of Givenchy before he left for Dior in late 1996. He was replaced at Givenchy by Alexander McQueen, who shared the British Designer of the Year award with him in 1997. (Read my Alexander McQueen series here.) Because of Vogue Patterns’ production schedule, Galliano was already leaving the house by the time the first Galliano/Givenchy pattern was ready. The January/February 1997 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine included an article on the Galliano-McQueen transition (“Givenchy’s Fashion Illusions”) that actually notes the collectability of the Galliano/Givenchy patterns.

During 1996 Galliano presented a full cycle of collections for Givenchy: two couture and two ready-to-wear. Vogue Patterns’ Galliano/Givenchy designs seem to be drawn from three different collections for the house. In this post I’ll review the patterns in their sequence of release.

Update, 2019: Collection titles added from Kerry Taylor’s forthcoming book, Galliano: Spectacular Fashion.

1. Givenchy Prêt-à-porter Fall/Winter 1996–97 (Toreador, shown March 1996)

Galliano’s first ready-to-wear collection for Givenchy reinterpreted motifs from his first, couture show for the house, which included gray flannel and bow pockets. (See Suzy Menkes, “A Neat, Cool Take on Couture for the Fall” [The Princess and the Pea] and Amy M. Spindler, “Givenchy in the Galliano Era: Clean Looks, Few Surprises” [Toreador].) Vogue Patterns’ first selection is a skirt suit with bow pockets (called a top and skirt on the envelope):

Givenchy by John Galliano pattern Vogue 1889 top and skirt
Vogue 1889 by John Galliano for Givenchy (1997) Bow-pocket skirt suit. Image: PatternVault shop.
Vogue 1889 schematic
Technical drawing for Vogue 1889

Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Top & Skirt. Semi-fitted, partially interfaced, lined top has collar, slightly extended shoulders, shoulder pads, side panels, no side seams, middle front extending into bows with pleated knot, button fly closing and long, two-piece sleeves with mock vent. Semi-fitted, straight, lined skirt, above mid-knee, has waistband and back zipper/slit. Featured in the January/February 1997 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine.

Vogue 1889 was featured in the Vogue Patterns article mentioned above with the matching runway photo from the Fall 1996 ready-to-wear show.

These Corbis photos show Karen Mulder and Amber Valetta in Givenchy dresses with bow pockets; the first is couture, the second ready-to-wear:

Givenchy Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1996
Karen Mulder in Givenchy Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1996 by John Galliano. Photo © Stephane Cardinale / Sygma via Getty Images.
Givenchy Prêt-à-porter Fall/Winter 1996-97
Amber Valetta in Givenchy Prêt-à-porter Fall/Winter 1996-97 by John Galliano. Photo © Pierre Vauthey / Sygma via Getty Images.

Bow pockets also reappeared in the Fall couture, as may be seen in this WWD runway image of Guinevere Van Seenus:

Guinevere Van Seenus in Givenchy couture Fall96 WWD
Guinevere Van Seenus in Givenchy Haute Couture Fall 1996 by John Galliano. Photo: WWD.

As Amy Spindler observed, these “tidy little suits with bow pockets” seemed designed to meet expectations of what an established Paris house should produce. Compare the bow pockets on McCall’s 5550, an early ’60s design by Pierre Cardin:

1960s Pierre Cardin skirt suit pattern - McCall's 5550
McCall’s 5550 by Pierre Cardin (1960) Image: PatternVault shop.

2. Givenchy Prêt-à-porter Spring/Summer 1997 (Jane Austen goes to Marrakech, shown October 1996)

Vogue 1978 (1997), the Empire gown pictured at the beginning of this post, is a ready-to-wear version of an Empire gown from Galliano’s Fall couture collection for Givenchy, Empress Josephine. Here’s the technical drawing for Vogue 1978:

Givenchy by John Galliano pattern Vogue 1978 empire gown schematic
Technical drawing for Vogue 1978

The envelope description reads: Misses’/Misses’ Petite Dress. Lined dress, mid-calf or floor length, has neckbinding, contrast yokes, close-fitting bodice, raised waist, semi-fitted, bias, A-line skirt, back zipper and short sleeves. Featured in the July/August 1997 issue of Vogue Patterns.

Collection images from L’Officiel show Nadja Auermann in the black version of the Vogue 1978 design and Eva Herzigová (who was the face for two Givenchy fragrances) in the floral print version:

Nadja Auermann in Givenchy Spring 1997 rtw by John Galliano. Photo © Daniel Simon / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.
Eva Herzigová in Givenchy ready-to-wear SS 1997
Eva Herzigová in Givenchy Spring 1997 rtw by John Galliano. Image: jalougallery.com.

A more casual variation, photographed for L’Officiel, has pockets, self belt, and the bodice inset in the main dress fabric:

Givenchy dress in L'Officiel, February 1997
Givenchy by John Galliano in L’Officiel, February 1997. Photo: Hiromasa. Stylist: Anne Dupas de Vertamy. Image: jalougallery.

The Vogue 1978 dress was even featured in the summer advertising campaign:

Galliano's black empire dress in Givenchy advertising campaign SS 1997
Givenchy advertising campaign, Summer 1997. Image: styleregistry.

Suzy Menkes noted the echoes of Galliano’s first, couture collection for the house in the Spring ready-to-wear collection’s “empire dresses with puff sleeves, high waists and a sweet flower print, inspired from the Empress Josephine look in Givenchy’s January haute couture show” (Suzy Menkes, “Yamamoto Steals Couture Crown: Galliano Strikes Out“). Of course, Galliano’s second couture collection had also featured Empire silhouettes, the most photographed of which seems to have been the white pleated gown at the top of this post. Here are a couple L’Officiel images from the Fall 1996 couture collection; the dress on Naomi Campbell in the first image (with stole: bottom, centre right) seems closest to the Vogue 1978 design:

L'Officiel 1000 modèles 1996
Givenchy Haute Couture by John Galliano, Fall 1996. Image: jalougallery.com.
L'Officiel 1000 modèles 1996
Givenchy Haute Couture by John Galliano, Fall 1996. Image: jalougallery.com.

Just for fun, here are a couple editorial images of Fall 1996 Givenchy Couture. The first, from W magazine, features Esther De Jong (slightly cropped by my scanner), the second is from an editorial in L’Officiel showcasing the season’s Givenchy couture:

"Painted Ladies" - Esther De Jong in Givenchy Haute Couture by John Galliano photographed by Mario Sorrenti
Givenchy’s hand-embroidered mousseline Empire dress with floral appliqué, by John Galliano. W magazine, October 1996. Photo: Mario Sorrenti. Stylist: Alexandra White.
Givenchy couture in L'Officiel William Laxton photo Monica Pilozzo stylist
L’Officiel, septembre 1996. Photo: William Laxton. Stylist: Monica Pilozzo. Image: jalougallery.

As seen in Vogue Italia:

Kylie Bax in Galliano / Givenchy haute couture for British Vogue, 1996
Kylie Bax in Givenchy couture by John Galliano, Vogue Italia couture supplement, September 1996. Photo: Steven Meisel. Stylist: Nicoletta Santoro. Image: Bellazon / Malicious Glamour.

3. Givenchy Haute Couture Fall/Winter 1996 (Empress Josephine, shown July 1996)

Vogue Patterns’ third selection, a blue velvet evening dress with bow bodice and bias back, was featured in their holiday issue:

Givenchy by John Galliano pattern Vogue 2061 evening gown 1997
Vogue 2061 by John Galliano for Givenchy (1997) Gown with bow bodice. Image: PatternVault shop.
Technical drawing for Vogue 2061
Technical drawing for Vogue 2061

Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ dress. Fitted and flared, lined dress, above mid-knee or floor length, has front pleated bodice forming bow effect, center front pleated skirt with asymmetrical seam, bias back and side zipper. B: back seam detail. No provision for above-waist adjustment. Featured in the November/December 1997 issue of Vogue Patterns.

Update: the design was also featured on the back cover of the retail catalogue:

All About Evening! Vogue 2061 by John Galliano for Givenchy, Vogue Patterns catalogue, Jan/Feb 1998
Vogue 2061 by John Galliano for Givenchy, Vogue Patterns catalogue, January/February 1998. Image: eBay.

I’m not certain, but Vogue 2061’s bow bodice and velvet fabric make me think it’s from the Fall/Winter 1996-97 couture collection. The bow bodice is very similar to that on a dress shown on Kirsty Hume in the Fall 1996 couture:

Kirsty Hume in Givenchy Couture by John Galliano
Kirsty Hume in Givenchy couture by John Galliano, Fall 1996. Image: jalougallery.com

One other Givenchy pattern appeared during the time frame matching Galliano’s tenure at the house, but it is not by John Galliano. It’s from Hubert de Givenchy’s final collection, Givenchy Prêt-à-porter Spring/Summer 1996:

1990s Hubert de Givenchy cocktail dress pattern - Vogue 1931
Vogue 1931 by Hubert de Givenchy (1997) Image: PatternVault shop.

Vogue 1931 was featured in the May/June 1997 issue of Vogue Patterns (Shop Vogue). Details of the pattern’s runway photo match images from the Spring 1996 ready-to-wear show, including this Corbis image by Laszlo Veres of the models with Hubert de Givenchy. Update: Getty image here.

Although Galliano produced only a handful of collections for Givenchy, with a correspondingly small number of licensed designs for Vogue Patterns, his Givenchy designs are clearly consistent with his other work—both for his own label and for the house of Dior. It’s interesting to see Galliano’s trademark bias dresses and Directoire references in designs available to home sewers.

Update: I’ve identified a fourth Galliano/Givenchy pattern—see my post here.

Bonus: SHOWstudio also has a free Galliano pattern download, an intricate jacket from Techno Romance (FW RTW 2001-2).