James Galanos: Vogue Patterns

Silk burnooses by Galanos photographed by James Moore for the cover of Harper's Bazaar, October 1966
Silk burnooses by Galanos on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, October 1966. Photo: James Moore. Image: eBay.

This week, a look at the late James Galanos’ licensed Vogue patterns. (See my McCall’s post here.)

James Galanos Vogue pattern envelope flap with biographical note
James Galanos Vogue pattern envelope flap. Image: eBay.


"Vogue Americana presents The Masterful Touch of James Galanos": Maud Adams wears V1854 by Galanos
Maud Adams wears Vogue 1854 by James Galanos on the cover of the Vogue Patterns catalogue, January 1968. Image: eBay.

Vogue Patterns introduced James Galanos patterns in late 1967, with two dress designs modelled by Maud Adams and Lauren Hutton. The counter catalogue promotes Galanos’ “masterful touch” with an alternate shot of Vogue 1854, an A-line dress with side pleats at right front and left back:

1960s James Galanos dress pattern - Vogue Americana 1854
Vogue 1854 by James Galanos (1967) Model: Maud Adams. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Lauren Hutton models Vogue 1855, a coat dress with double inverted pleats in the back:

1960s James Galanos coat dress pattern feat. Lauren Hutton - Vogue 1855
Vogue 1855 by James Galanos (1967) Model: Lauren Hutton. Image: eBay.

This short, wrap-effect evening dress has square armholes and front pleats concealing pockets:

1960s James Galanos evening dress pattern - Vogue 2071
Vogue 2071 by James Galanos (1969) Image: Etsy.


Later Galanos patterns were photographed on location in New York, where the designer showed his collections. This dress goes one further than Vogue 1855 and has double inverted pleats in both front and back:

1970s James Galanos dress pattern - Vogue 2269
Vogue 2269 by James Galanos (1970) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

Jumpsuit Vogue 2524 features a shoulder yoke, pintucks, and wide, corded belt:

1970s James Galanos jumpsuit pattern - Vogue 2524
Vogue 2524 by James Galanos (1971) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

The latest Galanos pattern I’ve seen is Vogue 2639, a long-sleeved evening dress with front slit and waistline smocking detail:

1970s James Galanos evening dress pattern - Vogue 2639
Vogue 2639 by James Galanos (1971) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

A dreamy illustration made the cover of the news leaflet:

1970s Galanos evening dress Vogue 2639 illustrated by Ron Becker for Vogue Pattern Fashion News
Vogue 2639 by James Galanos on the cover of Vogue Pattern Fashion News, January 1972. Illustration: Ron Becker. Image: Etsy.

For more on James Galanos, see Hamish Bowles’ obituary for Vogue or watch LACMA’s 1996 documentary, Galanos on Galanos (with thanks to Jen O of the Pintucks blog).

Donna Mitchell, "Black silk ottoman cloqué sheath wreathed in feathers by Galanos" photographed by Melvin Sokolsky for Bazaar, fall 1963
Feather-trimmed sheath in silk ottoman cloqué by Galanos on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, November 1963. Photo: Melvin Sokolsky. Model: Donna Mitchell. Image: Paper Pursuits.

James Galanos: McCall’s Patterns

Gold and black metallic evening gown built over a pellon and black silk taffeta by James Galanos, 1954
Metallic evening gown by James Galanos photographed at the Costume Institute, 1954. Image: Bettmann / Getty.

James Galanos died last month. He was 92. According to his obituary in the New York Times, Galanos authorized only two licenses: furs and fragrance. But he also licensed commercial sewing patterns—first with McCall’s, and later with Vogue Patterns. This post looks at Galanos’ 1950s patterns with McCall’s.

Jean Patchett photographed by Nina Leen in Galanos, 1959
Jean Patchett in Galanos, Life magazine, February 23, 1959. Photo: Nina Leen. Image: LIFE archive.

Born in Philadelphia to Greek parents, James Galanos (1924-2016) was a graduate of the Traphagen School of Fashion. He worked with Hattie Carnegie, Hollywood costume designer Jean Louis, and Robert Piguet before founding his own, LA-based label in 1951. He retired in 1998, the year after LACMA mounted a retrospective of his work. Galanos won the devotion of celebrities and socialites with his virtuoso technique and flawless craftsmanship.

Galanos label
Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art.


McCall’s introduced designer exclusives by “James Galanos, brilliant young star of American fashion” with two patterns for winter 1956-57. The Galanos designs—full-skirted formal gowns in two lengths—were prominently featured in the holiday issues of McCall’s Pattern Book and the company’s monthly news leaflet.

Clothes to make you beautiful this Christmas: Galanos gown McCall's 3895 on the cover of McCall's Pattern Book, Winter / Holiday 1956-57
McCall’s 3895 by Galanos on the cover of McCall’s Pattern Book, Winter 1956-57. Image: eBay.
"Holiday news: Galanos designs for McCall's" - illustration of McCall's 3894 and 3895, 1956
“Holiday news: Galanos designs for McCall’s.” McCall’s news leaflet, December 1956.

According to the news leaflet, McCall’s 3894 is “a fabulous ball gown to make in brocade.” The molded bodice is a trademark Galanos touch:

1950s James Galanos evening dress pattern McCall's 3894
McCall’s 3894 by Galanos (1956) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.
McCall's 3894 by Galanos in McCall's Pattern Book, 1956
McCall’s 3894 by Galanos in McCall’s Pattern Book, Winter 1956-57. Image: eBay.

McCall’s 3895 is a bow-trimmed evening gown. As the leaflet notes, “Beautifully low-cut in back, it can be cocktail length.” Recommended fabrics included heavy satin, peau de soie, brocade, and taffeta:

1950s James Galnos evening dress pattern McCall's 3895
McCall’s 3895 by Galanos (1956) Image: eBay.
A Galanos design in the McCall's catalogue, February 1957
A Galanos design in the McCall’s catalogue, February 1957. Image: Etsy.

In spring, 1957, McCall’s released two more Galanos patterns: the lavishly full-skirted McCall’s 4045 and 4046.

1950s Galanos evening dress and petticoat pattern McCall's 4045
McCall’s 4045 by Galanos (1957) Image: eBay.

Here, the back bodice extends into a front yoke. The skirt and petticoat were to be made in organdy, nylon, or silk organza:

1950s Galanos evening dress and petticoat pattern McCalls 4046
McCalls 4046 by Galanos (1957) Image: eBay.

The new Galanos patterns were promoted in the March issue of McCall’s magazine (“Galanos designs: Black-and-white for summer evenings”) and in the company’s “Make the Clothes that Make the Woman” advertising campaign.

"Make the Clothes that Make the Woman - with exclusive McCall's patterns by Galanos, Givenchy, Trigère, Sybil Connolly, Emilio of Capri!" McCall's 4046 by Galanos
“Make the Clothes that Make the Woman” advertisement featuring McCall’s 4046 by Galanos, spring 1957.

In the Summer 1957 pattern book, the designs are illustrated in green linen and flower-embroidered organdy:

James Galanos patterns illustrated in McCall's Pattern Book, Summer 1957
James Galanos patterns illustrated in McCall’s Pattern Book, Summer 1957.

Today, Galanos’ McCall’s patterns are quite scarce. Perhaps customers balked at the extravagant yardage: the skirt for one dress took over 20 yards of narrow fabric. Galanos’ work with sheer layers continued into the following decade, as seen in this 1961 editorial by Gordon Parks:

"Full-length evening dress is draped in pink and rose with a light orange hem. Like most Galanos styles, this one is deceptively simple but it is intricately and artfully constructed so that it is not bulky despite the amount of chiffon used -- 75 yards in all." Life, April 14, 1961.
Gloria Vanderbilt in a chiffon evening dress by Galanos, Life magazine, April 14, 1961. Photo: Gordon Parks. Image: Shrimpton Couture.

Next: James Galanos’ Vogue patterns.