Jean Paul Gaultier costumes for Peter Greenaway's "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover" (1989) Corbis photo © Byron Newman
On the set of Peter Greenaway’s “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover” (1989). Costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier. Corbis image © Byron Newman.

Late last month I had the opportunity to visit “La Planète mode de Jean Paul Gaultier. De la rue aux étoiles / The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal. (Overheard in the “À fleur de peau/Skin Deep” room: a father telling the small boy on his shoulders, “Le créateur aimait faire des robes avec des seins pointus.”) The show wrapped up in Montreal yesterday but will be on tour in the U.S., Spain and the Netherlands in the coming months. (See the international tour schedule here.) If you missed the show, Susan Orlean’s article in the New Yorker captures the mood of celebration surrounding the exhibit.

I’m not aware of any Jean Paul Gaultier sewing patterns, but two of the houses where Gaultier worked as assistant designer before starting his own fashion business—Pierre Cardin and Jean Patou—had licensing agreements with Vogue Patterns. On his eighteenth birthday, April 24, 1970, Jean Paul Gaultier was hired as assistant designer at Pierre Cardin. The following year, after a brief stint at Jacques Esterel, Gaultier began work as assistant designer at the house of Jean Patou. In 1974 he returned to Pierre Cardin, working at the house’s Manila studio before launching his own label in 1976.

In honour of Jean Paul Gaultier, I thought I’d feature a few early seventies patterns from Cardin and Patou from around the time Gaultier was working as assistant designer at each house. (I may have overlooked some patterns—currently the early ’70s don’t seem to be very well represented in the Vintage Patterns Wiki.) I’ve tried to factor in the time lag between runway presentation and the appearance of a licensed Vogue design, but I should stress that my choices represent a rough guess.

First, two Cardin patterns from 1971. Vogue 2405 is a long-sleeved or sleeveless dress with loop streamers. The three streamers extend from the right side of the high waist and re-join the garment at the hemline:

Vogue 2405 by Pierre Cardin 1970s dress with flower and streamers designer pattern
Vogue 2405 by Pierre Cardin (1971) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Vogue 2520 is a Pierre Cardin bridal gown: a long-sleeved, A-line wedding dress with high Empire waist and train-like back panel. The April/May 1971 issue of Vogue Pattern Book shows the dress made up in a silk knit. Isn’t it lovely?

Vogue 2520 Pierre Cardin 1970s wedding dress designer bridal gown pattern
Vogue 2520 by Pierre Cardin (1971) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The most fabulous mid-seventies Jean Patou pattern I’ve seen is actually a loungewear design. Vogue 1344, modelled by Billie Blair, is an evening-length dress with a boat neck, blouson bodice, dolman sleeves, side slit, and a contrast sash with streamers:

1970s Jean Patou lounge dress pattern feat. Billie Blair - Vogue Paris Original 1344
Vogue 1344 by Jean Patou (1975) Image: PatternVault shop.

Unless I’m mistaken, Vogue 1344 is the rightmost dress in this Vogue Patterns editorial photo:

Designer evening wear Karen Bjornson Billie Blair Vogue Patterns November December 1975
Vogue Patterns, November/December 1975. Image: eBay.

(Update: For a clearer image see Miss Dandy’s tumblr blog. The contrast sash is sequinned.)

The pattern envelope calls the dress “Misses’ loungewear.” Since the house of Patou was exclusively a couture house, this must be an example of couture loungewear! Maybe it’s because I just saw the Montreal exhibit, but Vogue 1344 and Vogue 2405 remind me of a design in the show’s first room, a couture dress from Gaultier’s Spring 2007 couture collection. (See a photo of the mannequin on The Sewing Divas blog here.) The dress plays with the idea of streamers, integrating them into the skirt and also the motif of the bleeding heart:

Bleeding Heart evening gown Jean Paul Gaultier haute couture Spring 2007
Bleeding heart dress, Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Spring 2007. Model: Querelle Jansen. Photo: Marcio Madeira. Image: Vogue Runway.

Catherine Deneuve wore a black version to the 2007 Academy Awards:

Catherine Deneuve black bleeding heart dress Gaultier Couture 79th Academy Awards 2007
Catherine Deneuve in Gaultier Couture at the 79th Academy Awards, 2007. Photo via

Gaultier himself designs through sketches, then collaborates with his atelier staff to develop the final design. In an interview with the curator of the Montreal exhibit, Gaultier discusses his formative technical training at Cardin and Patou. He says he “definitely had my rite of passage at Patou” and was still developing his technique during his second position at Cardin, when he made clothes for the notorious Imelda Marcos:

“When I worked for Cardin in the Philippines, I was always learning, because I really didn’t have any technique at that point. I dressed Imelda Marcos, making her clothes under the Cardin name that didn’t hold up or have the right proportions, but she wore them all the same!”

—from Thierry-Maxime Loriot, “The Rise of a Couturier,” in The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier (catalogue excerpt downloadable here).

Christian Lacroix: Vogue Patterns

Some time ago, Paco Peralta blogged about a Vogue pattern from the 1980s by Christian Lacroix, Vogue 2184, that he’d found while spring-cleaning his studio. (Read his post here. If you haven’t seen Paco’s blog yet, check it out! He shares both his work as a couturier and his extensive collection of Yves Saint Laurent patterns, often matching them up with vintage images from his personal archive.) Paco wasn’t sure whether Vogue 2184 was the only Vogue/Lacroix pattern, or whether there were others. This post is offered as a sequel and tribute to Paco and his work.

In the spring of 1988 Women’s Wear Daily announced a licensing agreement between Christian Lacroix and Vogue Patterns for a series of three patterns (“Lacroix makes deal with Vogue Patterns,” WWD, April 6, 1988). According to WWD, the three designs selected were all from the designer’s new ready-to-wear collection and would be on sale through the December catalogue from October 1st. Lacroix had presented his first ready-to-wear collection in March 1988, only a few weeks before the WWD announcement, meaning the three Vogue patterns are designs from the Fall/Winter Prêt-à-porter 1988-89 collection.

Christian Lacroix’s training in art history and museum studies was always evident in his work as a couturier. Lacroix wrote his master’s thesis on French costume in seventeenth-century painting, and historical costume was an important influence on his designs. (On Lacroix’s more recent fortunes, see the ‘people pages’ maintained by the Guardian and the New York Times.) Before I looked into these patterns, I was most familiar with Lacroix’s fanciful couture evening wear; I hoped to find a pattern for a crazy eighties Lacroix evening design like the pouf—the bubble skirt for which he became famous. What I didn’t realize is that the pouf was actually conceived at Patou, where Lacroix was artistic director from 1981 to 1987. This photo shows a stunning Lacroix design for Jean Patou haute couture:

Christian Lacroix couture cocktail dress Jean Patou 1987
Hand-painted toile de jouy cocktail dress, Christian Lacroix for Jean Patou, 1987. Photo: François Hallard, Condé Nast archives.

One of the things that made Lacroix leave Patou was the lack of opportunity to design ready-to-wear. His new label, backed by Bernard Arnault, was launched with a couture collection, followed by a ‘luxe’ ready-to-wear line, and then by the ready-to-wear in March 1988. (See Michael Gross, “High Fashion, Corporate Intrigue.”) Shown in a tent in the Louvre courtyard on the first day of the Paris prêt-à-porter, Lacroix’s inaugural ready-to-wear collection was characterized by short hemlines and fitted and flared silhouettes, especially rounded barrel skirts, and warm colours like orange and purple. (See Bernadine Morris, “A Spirited Lacroix and the Serious Japanese.”)

The three Vogue designs from this collection look to have been photographed on location in Paris. The photos show a short version (view A) of the skirt or dress—presumably the version closest to the original design. But the illustrations (view B) all show the option of a lower hemline. Here is Paco Peralta’s pattern, Vogue 2184, a cropped jacket and high-waisted skirt that flares from released pleats. The skirt is underlined and has an inside belt of grosgrain ribbon.

1980s Christian Lacroix pattern Vogue Paris Original 2184
Vogue 2184 by Christian Lacroix (1988) High-waisted skirt and jacket
Christian Lacroix pattern Vogue 2184 1980s suit schematic
Technical drawing for Vogue 2184

The envelope description reads: Misses’ jacket & skirt. Loose-fitting, lined, waist length jacket has shoulder pads and long two-piece sleeves. Fitted and flared skirt, above mid-knee variations, has raised waist, no waistband, front and back pleats, inside belt, pockets and side zipper. Purchased top.

Vogue 2183 is a similar ensemble, a tapered, high-waisted barrel skirt and bolero that buttons to the top of the skirt (I have a copy in the shop):

1980s Christian Lacroix pattern Vogue Paris Original 2183
Vogue 2183 by Christian Lacroix (1988) High-waisted skirt and jacket
Christian Lacroix pattern Vogue 2183 1980s suit schematic
Technical drawing for Vogue 2183

Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ jacket & skirt. Semi-fitted, lined, above waist jacket has dropped shoulders, shoulder pads, side panels (no side seams) and long, two-piece sleeves with cuffs. Tapered skirt, above mid-knee variations, has raised waist, front pleats, side panels (no side seams), side front pockets and side zipper closing. Purchased top.

The pièce de résistance, photographed before the Eiffel Tower, is Vogue 2176, a full-skirted dress with broad, dropped shoulders and optional front trim:

1980s Christian Lacroix pattern Vogue Paris Original 2176
Vogue 2176 by Christian Lacroix (1988) Dress
Christian Lacroix pattern Vogue 2176 1980s dress schematic
Technical drawing for Vogue 2176

The envelope description reads: Misses’ dress. Dress, above mid-knee variations, has dropped shoulders, shoulder pads, close-fitting, shaped back bodice, princess seams, side panels (no side seams), flared, pleated skirt, pockets (slightly forward), front zipper and hemline slit, stitched hems and long sleeves. A: purchased trim. No provision for above-waist adjustment.

Update: Here are some Lacroix images from the December 1988 Vogue Patterns catalogue. Vogue 2176 was featured on the cover:

Christian Lacoix pattern on the cover of the Vogue Patterns catalogue, December 1988
Vogue Patterns catalogue, December 1988. Image: eBay.
Christian Lacroix patterns in the Vogue Patterns catalogue for December 1988
Vogue Patterns catalogue, December 1988. Image: eBay.

Update 2: Vogue 2176 was also featured on the cover of Vogue Patterns’ holiday issue:

Julie Anderson wears Lacroix pattern V2176 on the cover of Vogue Patterns, 1988
Vogue 2176 by Christian Lacroix, Vogue Patterns, November/December 1988. Model: Julie Anderson. Image: eBay.

Here are a few editorial images from L’Officiel showing Lacroix’s ready-to-wear for Fall 1988. I was tickled to see that, in French, barrel skirts are called ‘amphora-shaped.’

Christian Lacroix coat dress and bodysuit in L'Officiel, June 1988
Christian Lacroix ready-to-wear: smocked coat dress in wool and Zamori cashmere, worn over a turtleneck bodysuit, also Zamori wool. L’Officiel, June 1988. Photo: Mark Arbeit. Image:
Christian Lacroix ready-to-wear in L'Officiel, August 1988
Christian Lacroix ready-to-wear, L’Officiel, August 1988. Photo: Peter Godry. Image:

According to the WWD article, more Lacroix designs were expected to be added “for next spring and each season thereafter.” But I have a feeling the first set was also the last. The ’88 Lacroix patterns seem to be fairly rare, suggesting their sales may not have met expectations. Or maybe the big shoulders and skirt volumes were too perfectly ‘eighties’ for home sewers, post-Black Monday. What I was surprised to see were the barrel skirts, familiar to me as a trend in the early 1960s (and also, apparently, in 1917), showing the breadth of Lacroix’s references and fashion’s continual re-incorporation and renewal of its past.