Horn/Griner photographed this military-inspired ensemble for an early ’70s issue of Vogue Pattern Book: the shirt, Vogue 8206, in camo voile and the pleated skirt, Vogue 8204, in khaki gabardine. The vest was available as a knitting pattern in the magazine. (Printed voile by Aquarius Fabrics; Rosewood Fabrics double woven polyester gabardine.) The scene captures the late-summer mood.
This Labour Day weekend, from Thursday, August 31st through Monday, September 4th, customers will receive 15% off everything in the PatternVault shop as part of Etsy’s first Labour Day sale. No coupon required—the new system will show the discounted price. And if you’re new to Etsy, you can use the new guest checkout.
This year’s big Costume Institute exhibit, China: Through the Looking Glass, broke the attendance record previously set by Savage Beauty in 2011 to become the Met’s most-visited costume exhibit. (See WWD.) Andrew Bolton’s catalogue, illustrated with original photography by Platon, is available from Yale University Press.
One of the show’s major draws was Wong Kar-wai’s art direction, with styling by William Chang Suk-ping. (See Rosemary Feitelberg, “Chinese Arts Examined at the Met” or read the press release here.) Like Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men and mid-century American dress, Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000) and 2046 (2004), with costume design by William Chang, have virtually defined the image of mid-century Hong Kong fashion.
It’s possible to find vintage sewing patterns showing a Chinese influence, especially cheongsam patterns, from about the 1950s on. The earliest Vogue patterns I’ve found that show a Chinese influence date to the early 1960s.
Two circa 1962 Vogue patterns I’ve had in the shop got me thinking about early ’60s Chinoiserie. One is for a cheongsam and pants, the other for a cocktail dress and sheer cape or ‘Ming’ stole:
Interestingly, although Vogue 5571 is clearly a pattern for a cheongsam or qipao, the envelope text says nothing to identify the garment as Chinese. Vogue 5648, on the other hand, calls its voluminous coverup a ‘Ming’ stole—a garment for which I can find no evidence whatsoever.
The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) is known for its voluminous clothing. Vogue 5648’s Ming stole has deep, two-piece sleeves and back fullness released from gathers at the neckline. Here’s the back view:
By contrast, the instantly recognizable cheongsam or qipao is a product of the modern period, a hybrid garment with a complex history traceable to Manchu dress in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
Vogue Patterns’ mid-century Chinoiserie seems inseparable from the context of the Cold War. In 1962, it had been just over a decade since Mao’s 1949 proclamation of the People’s Republic of China. The Hollywood films Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955) and The World of Suzie Wong (1960) had helped popularize the cheongsam in the West with their depictions of love affairs between an American man and a qipao-clad Chinese woman in mid-century Hong Kong.
For more on the cheongsam/qipao see Juanjuan Wu, “Reinvented Identity: The Qipao and Tang-Style Jacket,” chapter 6 of Chinese Fashion: From Mao to Now (Berg 2009).
In honour of Labour Day, this models post is devoted to iconic model and political activist Benedetta Barzini.
Benedetta Barzini (b. 1943) grew up in Porto Santo Stefano and New York City. She worked as a model in New York for four years after being discovered by Diana Vreeland. Here she appears on the cover of Vogue Italia’s inaugural issue:
Although Barzini returned to Italy to act, in the early 1970s she left acting and modelling to pursue Marxist-feminist teaching and political activism. She returned to modelling in the late 1980s. As of 2013 Barzini was a Professor of Fashion and Anthropology at the Polytechnic Institute of Milan. (Recent interview here.)
Gianni Penati photographed Barzini for a spring 1965 Vogue Patterns editorial for Vogue magazine. The patterns are Vogue 1429 by Christian Dior and Vogue 6534:
Update: Barzini also appears in this McCall’s designer editorial. The patterns are McCall’s 8620 by Donald Brooks and McCall’s 8616 by Pauline Trigère:
I have seen only one Vogue pattern with Barzini on the envelope. In 1967, Len Steckler photographed her in Vogue 1775 by Chuck Howard, a pattern from the new Vogue Americana line:
Barzini was also featured on the cover of the Vogue Patterns catalogue for August 1967:
During World War 2, women engaged in wartime work could choose from a variety of sewing patterns for work wear. The array of coveralls available included the mechanic suit, a close cousin to the siren suit or air raid suit (see my earlier post here). This 1942 pattern from Simplicity shows a khaki version paired with a garrison cap:
In honour of Labour Day, here is an advertising comic strip about sewing and a young woman’s job search. From my copy of the October 1939 McCall Style News, it’s another comic strip promoting J.C. Penney’s sewing department (click to enlarge):
I love how Ginger’s transformation involves not only a freshly sewn dress in a cute diagonal print, but also a new hat and a good hair day. Our heroine wins over her new, male boss with help from a girlfriend wise in the ways of properly un-dowdy femininity. Ginger’s new hat also points to how department stores like J.C. Penney’s could expect further sales connected to purchases from their sewing departments—accessories to match the customer’s soon-to-be-made new outfit.
A high resolution PDF copy of the October 1939 McCall Style News is now available in the shop:
I’m also giving away a copy of the PDF to one lucky reader. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below by midnight (EDT) on Saturday, September 8th. The winner will be chosen at random and announced this Sunday, September 9th.