The Matrix Costume Patterns

The Matrix costume, 2017 D0801 envelope - Simplicity, "The Leaders in Cosplay Sewing"
Simplicity D0801 (2017) Matrix costumes. Image: Etsy.

Ready for a cybergoth revival? The Matrix is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and Variety has just announced that there will be a Matrix 4, to be directed by Lana Wachowski and again starring Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss.

The costumes in the first Matrix were hugely influential. Working within a tight budget, costume designer Kym Barrett (Romeo + Juliet, Us) placed the emphasis on texture and movement, using low-cost materials like PVC and a wool blend for Neo’s coat. The rebels were also outfitted in custom accessories, with boots by Barrett and bespoke eyewear by Richard Walker.

On March 31st the fight for the future begins. Poster for The Matrix (1999) Image: IMDb

The first Matrix film even inspired John Galliano’s Fall 1999 couture collection for Dior. Presented at Versailles, the collection mixed futuristic raver-couture with more fanciful references like “Gainsborough in Persia.” (“The dresses are evil, evil,” Galliano was quoted saying. “But you have to have the Romantic. They die for that, my ladies.”) As Vogue’s Hamish Bowles wrote, the couture clients warmed more to the 18th-century looks than to “Matrix cybervixen.”

Dior By John Galliano - Couture Collection Fall Winter 1999-2000. Le 19 juillet 1999, dans la cadre de la présentation de la Collection haute couture Automne- Hiver, 1999-2000 de Christian DIOR par John GALLIANO à l'Orangerie du château de Versailles. ici le styliste posant avec un groupe de jeunes mannequins androgynes, dont certains sont des hommes torse nu, portant un maquillage épais et charbonneux de longs cheveux lisses, trois filles portent des bérets. (Photo by Jean-Claude Deutsch/Paris Match via Getty Images)
John Galliano with models backstage at the Dior couture show, the Orangerie at Versailles, July 19, 1999. Photo: Jean-Claude Deutsch. Image: Paris Match via Getty Images.
Dior evening dress in satin and lime green glitter PVC, L'Officiel Sept 1999
Dior haute couture by John Galliano, L’Officiel, September 1999. Photo: Randall Bachner. Editors: Bernât Buscato and Luciano Neves. Image: jalougallery.com.
Molly Sims photographed in Christian Dior haute couture by John Galliano by Ruven Afanador
Dior haute couture by John Galliano on the cover of Vogue Paris, September 1999. Model: Molly Sims. Photo: Ruven Afanador. Image: Molly Sims.

It wasn’t until 2003’s big-budget sequel, The Matrix Reloaded, that Neo got his famous cassock coat.

Keanu Reeves as Neo on the cover of French Premiere, October 2003. Image: Famous Fix.

The first Matrix-inspired costume patterns came out in 2003.

Trinity, Neo, and Morpheus in a promo image for The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
Promotional image for The Matrix Reloaded (2003) Image: Foxtel Movies.

Simplicity’s Neo and Morpheus / “Men’s and Teen’s Duster” must have sold well: the pattern was rereleased with an updated envelope in 2017. (See top of post.) Now backlisted, it’s still available from the company website.

Morpheus and Neo costume pattern (The Matric Reloaded) - Simplicity 5386
Simplicity 5386 (2003) Matrix costumes. Image: Etsy.

Thanks to the sequel’s higher budget, Barrett designed Trinity’s pieces for better-quality PVCs (then newly available), with patent leather used for closeups. For the women’s pattern, Trinity’s PVC bustier-coat ensemble effectively devolves into its separate elements: a princess-seamed duster, corset top, and pants. The pattern calls for stretch vinyl, leather-like fabrics, and synthetic patent leather.

Trinity costume pattern (The Matrix Reloaded) - Simplicity 5380
Simplicity 5380 (2003) Matrix costume. Image: Etsy.

The following year, Butterick and McCall’s released men’s and children’s Neo patterns, but none for Trinity. Both cassock coats share an authentic, if painstaking touch: lots of covered buttons.

Witch + Neo from the Matrix costume pattern - Butterick 4314
Butterick 4314 (2004) Image: eBay.
Adult and children's Neo / Matrix costume - McCalls 4546
McCall’s 4546 (2004) Matrix costume. Image: eBay.

It would be another decade before Andrea Schewe designed a more accurate Trinity duster. Released in Simplicity’s 90th anniversary year, the PVC duster was paired with a Kingdom Hearts cosplay coat.

Kingdom Hearts and Trinity from the Matrix costume pattern - Simplicity 8482 (2017)
Simplicity 8482 (2017) Kingdom Hearts and Matrix costumes. Image: Etsy.

Here’s S8482 with more sci-fi (Firefly and Rogue One) in the seasonal catalogue:

Trinity, Zoe Washburne, Jyn Erso, and Kingdom Hearts costume patterns. Find the Adventure - Simplicity Autumn 2017 catalogue
Find the Adventure – S8482 and S8480 in Simplicity’s Autumn 2017 catalogue. Image: Simplicity.

There’s no word on the costume designer yet, but production on the new Matrix begins in 2020.

Trinity character poster featuring Carrie-Anne Moss - The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
The Matrix Reloaded Trinity character poster (2003) Image: IMDb.

Biba: McCall’s Patterns

1970s Biba cover - 19 magazine, January 1971 photographed by David Tack
A Biba look on the cover of 19 magazine, January 1971. Photo: David Tack.

I started this blog eight years ago this month. To celebrate, here’s a look at some all-but-forgotten licensing: patterns by Barbara Hulanicki for Biba.

Ingrid Boulting wearing Tiger Lily dress by Biba at Lacock Abbey, British Vogue, July 1970. Photo: Norman Parkinson
Ingrid Boulting wears Biba’s Tiger Lily dress at Lacock Abbey, British Vogue, July 1970. Photo: Norman Parkinson. Image: Iconic Images.

Biba might be the biggest brand you’ll never see on a pattern. Born in Warsaw, Biba founder Barbara Hulanicki (b. 1936) grew up in Palestine and Brighton, where she attended Brighton Art School. She worked as a fashion illustrator before starting the Biba label with her husband, Stephen “Fitz” Fitz-Simon. Sometimes called the first lifestyle brand, Biba was a runaway success in Swinging London, selling everything from cosmetics to couture.

Biba designs for Seventeen - McCall's Pattern no. 2725
Biba design for Seventeen, Brighton Museum, 2013. Image: The cherry blossom girl.

In 1970, Hulanicki licensed patterns with McCall’s as a way to launch her brand in North America. The main promotion was in Seventeen Magazine, as it was Seventeen editor Rosemary McMurtry who first approached Hulanicki about the idea. Hulanicki mentions the McCall’s deal in her memoirs, as well as The Biba Years, 1963-1975, which she co-wrote with Martin Pel, curator of Brighton’s Biba and Beyond: Barbara Hulanicki.

Book cover for Barbara Hulanicki and Martin Pel's The Biba Years, 1963-1975 (V&A 2014)
Barbara Hulanicki and Martin Pel, The Biba Years, 1963-1975 (V&A 2014) Image: V&A.
Biba label - the Costume Institute
Image: Costume Institute.

Around New Year’s, 1971, Seventeen readers could peruse the new Biba patterns in a dreamy Sarah Moon editorial shot in Paris. Among the models was Ingrid Boulting, the face of Biba Cosmetics (another Sarah Moon project). As Hulanicki writes in her memoir, From A to Biba, the setting for the shoot was the round tower of Au Printemps, the storied Paris department store. The printed fabrics — cotton satin, rayon crepe, cotton voile, twill, and broadcloth — were all Tootal for Biba, and available at retailers like Macy’s in New York. (More at Sweet Jane. Seventeen scans courtesy of Musings from Marilyn.)

Sarah Moon's "Biba Boutique" McCall's editorial in Seventeen Magazine, Jan. 1971
“Biba Boutique,” Seventeen Magazine, January 1971. Photos: Sarah Moon. Images: Musings from Marilyn.
Sarah Moon's "Biba Boutique" McCall's editorial in Seventeen Magazine, Jan. 1971
“Biba Boutique,” Seventeen Magazine, January 1971. Photos: Sarah Moon. Images: Musings from Marilyn.
Sarah Moon's "Biba Boutique" McCall's editorial in Seventeen Magazine, Jan. 1971
“Biba Boutique,” Seventeen Magazine, January 1971. Photos: Sarah Moon. Images: Musings from Marilyn.

The patterns were even covered more than once in Women’s Wear Daily.

Robert Melendez Biba illustration in Women's Wear Daily, 1971
From “Viva Biba,” WWD, January 5, 1971. Illustration: Robert Melendez. Image: Shrimpton Couture.

The designs consisted of a top and skirt, separates and a hat, a long-sleeved dress and short-sleeved coatdress, and a midi or maxi dress, all in junior sizes only. Two included a matching choker. Customers could see the Biba logo in McCall’s retail catalogues, but the pattern envelopes give no indication they’re Biba designs.

1970s Biba pattern McCall's 2725
McCall’s 2725 by Biba (1971)
1970s Biba pattern McCall's 2728
McCall’s 2728 by Biba (1971)
1970s Biba pattern McCall's 2746
McCall’s 2746 by Biba (1971)
1970s Biba pattern McCall's 2747
McCall’s 2747 by Biba (1971)

McCall’s Pattern Fashions featured the Biba patterns in a four-page illustrated portfolio called “Seventeen Magazine Pattern Selections.” The write-up emphasizes Biba’s novelty in North America: Now Seventeen Magazine brings Biba to America … You, too, can be a Biba girl without crossing the Atlantic.

Seventeen Magazine Pattern Selections: Now Seventeen Magazine brings Biba to America in an exclusive group of McCall's patterns
Biba patterns in McCall’s Pattern Fashions, Spring 1971.
Seventeen Magazine Pattern Selections: You, too, can be a Biba girl without crossing the Atlantic
Biba patterns in McCall’s Pattern Fashions, Spring 1971.

Curiously, the Biba patterns aren’t in McCall’s back index, but one of them appears in this croquet-themed textiles ad — at left, in printed Dacron crepe:

McCall's Pattern Fashions Spring 1971 Klopman
Klopman advertisement in McCall’s Pattern Fashions, Spring 1971.

The peplum blouse with short “mushroom” sleeves (McCall’s 2725, view B) is very similar to a Biba evening suit seen in a 19 cover portfolio by David Tack. (Cover at top of post.) Like Seventeen, the British teen magazine also published its feature around the time of New Year’s, 1971.

Have you sewn any of the Biba patterns?

David Tack, Biba screen-printed satin evening suit in 19 magazine, January 1971
Biba screen-printed satin evening suit in 19 magazine, January 1971. Photo: David Tack. Image: Vintage-a-Peel.

Outlander Costumes

Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in "Not in Scotland Anymore" Outlander s2 e2
Promotional image for Outlander, season 2 (2016). Image: Starz.

In honour of Burns Night, a guide to Outlander patterns.

Outlander is now in its fourth season; it’s been renewed for two more. Adapted from the popular series by Diana Gabaldon, the time-travelling romance has plenty of source material: Gabaldon is currently working on her ninth Outlander book.

Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in "The Devil's Mark" Outlander S1 e11
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Harper’s Bazaar.

Sunday’s season finale will be the last episode to feature costumes by Terry Dresbach. Trisha Biggar is the new costume designer for season 5. Biggar, who is from Glasgow, is best known for her work on the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

Scottish costume designer Trisha Biggar's Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars (2005)
Trisha Biggar’s Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars (Abrams 2005)

In 2017, Simplicity’s unofficial Outlander patterns prompted Dresbach to take down her website. (It’s back now.) The next year, McCall’s started releasing official, licensed Outlander patterns.

Simplicity

Fall Through Time - Simplicity Outlander costumes by American Duchess
Fall Through Time – American Duchess’ Outlander costume, Simplicity 8161. Image: Simplicity.

Simplicity’s adapted-from-Outlander patterns are by American Duchess, a historical costuming company based in Reno, Nevada. The three patterns are based on Claire’s costumes in seasons 1 and 2: 18th-century Highland dress and an unusual court gown. There’s also a free pattern for her crocheted cowl.

Claire Fraser dress pattern - Simplicity 8161 by American Duchess (2016)
Simplicity 8161 by American Duchess (2016) Image: Simplicity.
Claire's underthings pattern - Simplicity 8161 by American Duchess (2016)
Simplicity 8162 by American Duchess (2016) Image: Simplicity.

It was this version of Claire’s red dress that caused such consternation online. Claire wears the original during her visit to Versailles in “Not in Scotland Anymore,” the episode that earned Outlander its first Emmy nomination for costume design. It was also seen in promotional materials for season 2 (see top of post). The pattern is still in print, but as with Simplicity’s Game of Thrones patterns, the colour was soon changed to a less provocative teal.

A pattern version of Claire Fraser's scandalous red dress - Simplicity 8411 by American Duchess (2017)
Simplicity 8411 by American Duchess (2017) Image: Simplicity.

McCall’s

McCall’s started licensing official Outlander patterns in 2018. (Company founder James McCall was a Scottish immigrant, and McCall’s UK — McCalls Ltd — is not a pattern company, but a Highlandwear outfitters.) McCall’s Outlander patterns cover both women’s and men’s costumes, with many available as instant downloads. For the first few releases this meant Claire and Jamie Fraser, or 18th-century Scottish highlander garb.

Outlander costumes M7736 and M7735 in McCall's Spring 2018 lookbook
Outlander costumes M7736 and M7735 in McCall’s Spring 2018 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15)
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Starz.
Outlander season 2's shirtless and kilted MacKenzie men
Alternate look for kilt M7736. Image: Starz.

Next came the couple’s wedding clothes: Jamie’s frock coat and Claire’s wedding dress.

Outlander costumes M7762 and M7764 in McCall's Spring 2018 lookbook
Outlander costumes M7762 and M7764 in McCall’s Spring 2018 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in "The Wedding," Outlander s1 e7 (2014)
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Starz.

Outerwear was the focus of the Summer release, with patterns for Claire’s fur-trimmed riding jacket and Jamie’s leather coat.

Outlander costumes M7792 and M7794 in McCall's Summer 2018 lookbook
Outlander costumes M7792 and M7794 in McCall’s Summer 2018 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Claire Randall (Caitríona Balfe) goes riding in Outlander, season 1 e4
Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Terry Dresbach.
Scottish laird Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15)
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Starz.

Jamie is still wearing the coat in season 2, when he joins up with Bonnie Prince Charlie. Dresbach suited the latter not in the Stuart, but the MacQueen tartan.

Bonnie Prince Charlie and Jamie Fraser in "Prestonpans" Outlander season 2 episode 10 (2016)
Charles Stuart (Andrew Gower) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 2 (2016). Image: Starz.

This fall, we finally saw a costume for British officer Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall, plus Claire’s blue riding jacket-and-waistcoat combo from season 3’s Emmy-nominated episode, “Freedom & Whisky.” The title is a Burns quote, and the episode sees Claire sewing the outfit herself, for time travel. A costume book lies open by her sewing machine, and her ensemble looks to be based on a memorable riding habit in Janet Arnold’s classic, Patterns of Fashion.

Outlander costumes M7823 and redcoat uniform M7824 in McCall's Early Fall 2018 lookbook
Outlander costumes M7823 and M7824 in McCall’s Early Fall 2018 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Tobias Menzies in his redcoat uniform as Outlander's Black Jack Randall
Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) in Outlander. Image: Starz.
Snowshill Manor riding habit in Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen's dresses and their construction, c. 1660-1860, by Janet Arnold
The Snowshill Manor riding habit in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 1 (1964). Image: Pinterest.
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 3 (2017). Image: Starz.

This year, McCall’s Outlander patterns caught up to the show with this caraco jacket and skirt. The jacket looks to be one of Claire’s remade outfits, courtesy of Jamie’s aunt Jocasta.

Outlander costume M7916 in McCall's Early Spring 2019 lookbook
Outlander costume M7916 in McCall’s Early Spring 2019 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Claire (Caitríona Balfe) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 4 (2018-19)
Claire (Caitríona Balfe) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 4 (2018-19). Image: tumblr.

Slàinte! To freedom and whisky.

Update (April 2019): This new release includes Claire’s peplum jacket and fichu (scarf), plus a chemise:

Outlander costume McCall's 7940 (2019)
Outlander costume M7940 in McCall’s Spring 2019 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.

Armistice Centenary

Illustration of women in uniform on the cover of Butterick magazine The Delineator, November 1918
Women in uniform on the cover of The Delineator, November 1918. Image: eBay.

This Sunday is the centenary of the Armistice of 1918, marking the end of World War I.

On the November 1918 Delineator cover shown above, two women wear military uniforms that could be sewn from a Butterick pattern. (Also pictured in the late Joy Emery’s book. Look inside the issue here.) Click the images below for my 1914 centenary post, Patterns for the Great War, and other patterns for war work.

Responding to the Country's Call: patterns for war work in McCall's magazine, July 1917.
Responding to the Country’s Call, McCall’s magazine, July 1917. Image: eBay.
McCall 8125 dress, McCall 8130 aviation cap / McCall 8121 dress - cover of McCall Fashions for January 1918
Wartime skating in an aviation cap (left). McCall Fashions for January 1918.

Costumes after Eiko Ishioka

Google doodle celebrating Eiko Ishioka's work in Tarsem Singh's The Fall (2006)
Google doodle celebrating Eiko Ishioka, 2017. Image: Google.

In memory of Eiko Ishioka, who would have been 80 this year, a look at costume patterns based on her work.

Eiko on Stage (Callaway, 2000) Image: abebooks.

Eiko Ishioka (1938-2012) is best known as the costume designer for The Cell and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for which she won an Academy Award in 1993. Her last film project was Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror, starring Julia Roberts and Lily Collins.

Poster for Mirror, Mirror (2012). Image: IMdB.

McCall’s and Simplicity both released patterns based on the film. McCall’s 6629 came in adult and children’s sizes. (Out of print, but details still on the Cosplay by McCall’s site.)

McCall’s 6629 / 240 (2012) Image: Etsy.

On the left—view D with collar E and feathered backpiece F—is Julia Roberts’ wicked queen. Ishioka’s original gown has panniers and miles of cartridge pleating:

The Queen (Julia Roberts) and Brighton (Nathan Lane) in Mirror Mirror (2012). Photo: Jan Thijs ©Snow White Productions, 2011.

The gown features white peacock embroidery and a molded basque with four-piece cups.

Julia Roberts as the Queen in Mirror Mirror. Image ©Snow White Productions, 2011.

View B (top right) is clearly Lily Collins’ Snow White, but so is view A. It’s the dress with floral basque and skirt, seen early in the film, which Ishioka topped with one of the most memorable capes in cinema.

Snow White (Lily Collins) in Mirror Mirror (2012). Image ©Relativity Media, 2011.
Lily Collins in Mirror Mirror (2012). Image ©Relativity Media / Richard Crouse.

Simplicity also offered Snow White’s dress from the film’s Bollywood finale, moving the giant bow down from the shoulders.

Simplicity 1728 (2012)
Simplicity 1728 (2012) Image: eBay.
Snow White (Lily Collins) in Mirror Mirror (2012). Photo: Jan Thijs ©Relativity Media.

The Costume Designers’ Guild gave Ishioka a posthumous award for Mirror Mirror. (For more on the production, see Wired.) And since her on-screen version, all yellow capes seem to point back to Snow White’s.

Caitriona Balfe wears Terry Dresbach's yellow cloak in Outlander, season 2 (2016)
Claire (Caitriona Balfe) in Outlander, season 2 (2016). Image: Starz / Life According to Jamie.
Alberta Ferretti coat, Fall 2017. Images: Moda Operandi.
Jordan Prentice, Joey Gnoffo, Sebastian Saraceno, Lily Collins, Martin Klebba, Mark Povinelli, Ronald Lee Clark, and Danny Woodburn in Mirror Mirror (2012). Photo: Matthew Rolston
Jordan Prentice, Joey Gnoffo, Sebastian Saraceno, Lily Collins, Martin Klebba, Mark Povinelli, Ronald Lee Clark, and Danny Woodburn in Mirror Mirror (2012). Photo: Matthew Rolston ©Relativity Media 2011.