Mad Men Era Roundup

Peggy Olson arrives at the McCann offices in "Lost Horizon" (Mad Men season 7 episode 12)
Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) in “Lost Horizon” (Man Men, Season 7). Image: AMC.

Did you watch the Mad Men finale Sunday night? If you aren’t ready to say goodbye, a New York exhibition, Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men, brings together sets, props, costumes, and other production materials from the show (at the Museum of the Moving Image to June 14, 2015).

Soon after launching this blog in 2011, I began a series on Mad Men-era designer patterns. Like the TV series, it shows the changes that were taking place in fashion in the 1960s. Here’s the full roundup:

  1. The Old Guard I – Jacques Heim, Madame Grès, Jo Mattli, and Jean Dessès
  2. The Old Guard II – Jacques Griffe, Pauline Trigère, Pierre Balmain, and Pierre Cardin
  3. London’s Old Guard – Ronald Paterson, John Cavanagh, Michael Donéllan, and Edward Molyneux
  4. Old House, New Designer – Lanvin, Patou, Nina Ricci, and Dior
  5. The Europeans – Rodríguez, Simonetta, Fabiani, and Pucci
  6. New Talent – Guy Laroche, Irene Galitzine, and Federico Forquet
  7. Millinery – Sally Victor, John Frederics, Guy Laroche, and Halston
  8. McCall’s New York Designers – Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, and Anne Klein
  9. Butterick’s Young Designers – Mary Quant, Jean Muir, and Emmanuelle Khanh

I also have two posts on Yves Saint Laurent’s 1965 Mondrian collection, Mondrian! and my version of Vogue 1556, and for the later 1960s, a designers post on Rudi Gernreich.

MadMen1

MadMen2

MadMen3

Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint LaurentVogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent, Knoll Toronto

Mondrian! Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent

1960s Mondrian dress pattern Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent
Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent (1966) Model: Merle Lynn. Photo: Richard Dormer. Image: PatternVault shop.

Vogue 1556, a shift dress by Yves Saint Laurent, is a design from the Fall 1965 ‘Mondrian’ collection. (See my post on the Mondrian collection patterns here.) Of the five designs Richard Dormer photographed for the February/March 1966 issue of Vogue Pattern Book, Vogue 1556 is the only one shown in colour, showing off the Florence Knoll chair in the background. When I found a copy of the pattern in my size, it went to the top of my to-sew list.

The envelope description reads: One-piece dress. Shift dress with wide contrasting yoke and hem band has long sleeves slightly gathered into contrasting band cuffs. The original was made in four-ply silk crêpe from Onondaga.

The dress can be made in cocktail or evening length. I decided to make the cocktail-length version illustrated on the envelope back, a monochrome dress with sequin contrast:

Sequin contrast dress illustration Vogue 1556 back 1960s
Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent (1966) Illustration from envelope back.

I found a black wool crêpe and Bemberg lining at Designer Fabrics, and some fabulous square-sequinned fabric on sale at Fabricland. The pattern went together like a dream. The only adjustment I made was to let the hips out a bit and widen the hem band accordingly. Luckily the hem and sleeves were just the right length without any adjustment. Underlining gives the dress that typical Sixties weight; I also used the Bemberg lining to underline the sequin fabric, but I think it could have benefited from something a little heavier.

The dress fastens in the back with two separate closures: a lapped zipper for the body of the dress and buttons or snaps for the yoke. I had a lot of fun putting in my first lapped zipper. The pattern gives special instructions for the sequinned version of the dress: snaps for the upper back instead of buttons. I recommend using sturdy snaps—the light ones I used are prone to popping open.

As special fabrics go, sequins are fairly high-maintenance. The sequins needed to be removed from all seam allowances and their attaching threads caught by the stitching. This could be challenging when hand-sewing the backs of the contrast bands, but the results are worth it, I think.

Readers of We Sew Retro may have seen the photos of Vogue 1556 that Naomi took for my interview back in December. Since the original Vogue Pattern Book Yves Saint Laurent editorial was shot in the Knoll showroom in Paris, I arranged to photograph my Vogue 1556 dress in Knoll’s Toronto showroom. The new showroom is in a converted warehouse in Liberty Village (more details on the LEED-certified space here). It was a pleasure to spend a winter afternoon in their industrial space full of Knoll textiles and furniture:

Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent, Knoll Toronto

On a wall near the entrance is a quote from Florence Knoll on architecture and interior design (I’m sitting on an Eero Saarinen Womb chair):

Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent with Knoll chair

We couldn’t leave without photographing the dress beside a Florence Knoll lounge chair:

Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent with Florence Knoll lounge chair

We took too many photos of Knoll chairs to include here, but here’s just one more:

Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent, Knoll Toronto

We loved this textiles display featuring upholstered dots:

Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent with Knoll textiles

This last photo was taken by the showroom entrance:

Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent with Knoll sign reflection

A big thank you to the Knoll staff for welcoming us into their showroom. Special thanks to photographer and friend Rachel O’Neill for her fantastic work.

Mondrian!

Yves Saint Laurent sketch of Mondrian and Pop-art dresses
Image: Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent.

Yves Saint Laurent’s Fall/Winter 1965 collection, inspired by the abstract paintings of Piet Mondrian and Serge Poliakoff, included one of the most iconic garments of the twentieth century: the ‘Mondrian’ dress. David Bailey photographed the multicolour Mondrian dress for the cover of Vogue Paris’ 1965 September issue, and Saint Laurent’s Mondrian designs spawned countless knockoffs, including sewing patterns and knitting patterns. Today, Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian dresses may be viewed in museum collections such as those of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (On the construction of the Mondrian dress and on fashion inspired by modern art, see the posts by Couture Allure and oh mighty!)

Yves Saint Laurent's Mondrian dress photographed by David Bailey for the cover of Vogue Paris, September 1965
Vogue Paris, September 1965. Photo: David Bailey. Image: tumblr.

In early 1966, Vogue Patterns introduced Yves Saint Laurent with five pieces from the “Mondrian et Poliakoff” collection. The designs were photographed in mid-century splendour at Knoll International, Paris by Richard Dormer. The first page of the Vogue Pattern Book editorial shows model Merle Lynn standing before a 1954 Florence Knoll lounge chair:

1960s Yves Saint Laurent shift dress Vogue 1556 in Vogue Pattern Book
Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent. Vogue Pattern Book, February/March 1966. Model: Merle Lynn. Photo: Richard Dormer.

Vogue Patterns chose a simple, red-accented Mondrian dress for the highly sought-after Vogue 1557:

1960s Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian dress 1557 in Vogue Pattern Book
Vogue 1557 by Yves Saint Laurent. Vogue Pattern Book, February/March 1966. Photo: Richard Dormer.

The photos of Vogue 1567, a dress and coat, show a 1955 Tulip Chair by Eero Saarinen (hair by Alexandre of Paris):

1960s Yves Saint Laurent dress and coat 1567 in Vogue Pattern Book
Vogue 1567 by Yves Saint Laurent. Vogue Pattern Book, February/March 1966. Model: Merle Lynn. Photo: Richard Dormer.

And the last page of the editorial shows what looks like one of Knoll’s signature textile wall panels:

1960s Yves Saint Laurent suits 1569 and 1571 in Vogue Pattern Book
Vogue 1569 and 1571 by Yves Saint Laurent. Vogue Pattern Book, February/March 1966. Photos: Richard Dormer.

The pattern envelopes show different, colour images from Dormer’s shoot. Here are Vogue 1556 and Vogue 1557 (see Paco Peralta’s blog posts here and here for more images):

1960s Mondrian pattern Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent
Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent (1966) Image: PatternVault shop.
Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian dress pattern Vogue Paris Original 1557
Vogue 1557 by Yves Saint Laurent (1966) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The description reads: One-piece dress. Sleeveless shift has narrow, contrasting inserts around the hem, down center back, and crossing high in front to create a yoke.

Richard Avedon photographed Jean Shrimpton in this Mondrian dress for his final issue at Harper’s Bazaar:

Richard Avedon photo of Jean Shrimpton in Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian dress, Harper's Bazaar, October 1965
Harper’s Bazaar, October 1965. Model: Jean Shrimpton. Photo: Richard Avedon. Image: tumblr.

Irving Penn photographed Veruschka in the same dress for British Vogue (via Magdorable; see her recent post for more photos):

Veruschka photographed by Irving Penn in a Mondrian dress for British Vogue, September 1965
British Vogue, September 1965. Model: Veruschka. Photo: Irving Penn. Image: Magdorable!

You can see a photo of Veronica Hamel in the same dress here. (Thanks to Paco Peralta for alerting me to these last two images.)

The Vogue 1567 envelope gives a better view of the Tulip Chair:

1960s Yves Saint Laurent dress and coat pattern - Vogue 1567
Vogue 1567 by Yves Saint Laurent (1966) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Here’s the description: One-Piece Dress and Coat. High-waisted dress has contrasting bodice with high band collar, a button-trimmed inset, and sleeve banding to match gathered skirt. Self belt. Long sleeved, double-breasted coat with yoke seam has wide, button-trimmed belt and pockets in seams. Trim stitching.

And the bold teal of the wall panel may be seen on Vogue 1569 (I haven’t been able to find a pattern image for the fifth pattern, Vogue 1571):

1960s Yves Saint Laurent suit and blouse pattern Vogue 1569
Vogue 1569 by Yves Saint Laurent (1966) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The description reads: Suit and Blouse. Long sleeved, slightly fitted jacket has wide hem band and optional purchased or self belt. Trim stitching. Tuck-in blouse has high shaped neckline, squared-off armholes, and welt pockets. Gathered skirt has pockets in seams and optional purchased or self belt.

Vogue 1557 and 1569 were both featured on the cover of the Vogue Patterns counter catalogue:

Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian dress pattern Vogue 1557 on the cover of Vogue Patterns catalog, February 1966
Vogue 1557 by Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue Patterns catalogue, February 1966. Image: eBay.
Yves Saint Laurent suit pattern Vogue 1569 on the cover of Vogue Patterns catalogue, March 1966
Vogue 1569 by Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue Patterns catalogue, March 1966. Image: eBay.

Illustrations of Vogue 1557 were also commissioned for the monthly Vogue Pattern Fashion News (more illustration scans posted by Damn Good Vintage—click the image for the post):

Yves Saint Laurent's Vogue 1557 illustrated on the cover of Vogue Pattern Fashion News, February 1966
Vogue Pattern Fashion News, February 1966. Image: Vintage Goddess.

Although Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian collection was inspired by modern art, Vogue Pattern Book’s editorial at Knoll situates pieces from the collection in the context of modern design. The editorial is interesting, both for how it frames the designer’s garments and how it ignores his celebrity. The designer’s name is prominent on the news booklet and first counter catalogue—arguably more overtly promotional publications. But the name Yves Saint Laurent is not included on the magazine’s cover or even mentioned in the Editor’s letter; there’s no photo, no bio like those we see in later decades. The emphasis is firmly on the designs and their place in contemporary visual culture.

Next: My version of Vogue 1556.