Free Designer Pattern: Callot Soeurs Pyjamas

Callot Soeurs lounging pyjamas, ca. 1913
Callot Soeurs lounging pyjamas, ca. 1913. Image: LACMA.

This week, a free couture pattern from Callot Soeurs.

Callot Soeurs was one of the old couture houses of Belle Époque Paris, founded in 1895 by the four Callot sisters. Not many Callot Soeurs garments survive, and the house is best remembered for its role in the early career of Madeleine Vionnet. But in 2015, the New Yorker published an article on a collection of Callot Soeurs dresses found stored in Villa La Pietra, a Florentine villa that was once home to American heiress Hortense Mitchell Acton. (See Jessamyn Hatcher, “Twenty-One Dresses.”) Click the image below to see the gallery of Acton’s Callot Soeurs gowns.

Callot Soeurs label inside one of Hortense Mitchell Acton's commissions found at Villa La Pietra, Florence. Photo: Pari Dukovic
Callot Soeurs label inside one of Hortense Mitchell Acton’s commissions found at Villa La Pietra, Florence. Photo: Pari Dukovic. Image: The New Yorker.

LACMA’s Callot Soeurs pyjama ensemble includes a delicate top and harem pants—a radical element of the new women’s silhouette. (See my sarouel post here.)

Here are the museum notes:

This thoughtfully crafted hand-sewn and machine-stitched lounging pajama was made bifurcated by the attachment of the skirt length from the center front of the waist to the center back through the legs. Vertical side-front seams of the skirt were sewn with openings for the feet to create a stylized harem pant. The silk charmeuse skirt draped and outlined each leg while silk tassels at the foot openings would have drawn attention to the wearer’s ankles as she walked. A bifurcated garment of any style during the early 1900s was a provocative fashion that challenged ideas about established gender-appropriate dress.

Callot Soeurs lounging pyjamas, ca. 1913
Detail, Callot Soeurs lounging pyjamas, ca. 1913. Image: LACMA.
Callot Soeurs lounging pyjamas; silk satin embellished shoes, London, England, ca. 1913
Detail, Callot Soeurs lounging pyjamas, ca. 1913. Image: LACMA.
Callot Soeurs sketch by Thomas John Bernard
Callot Soeurs sketch by Thomas John Bernard. Image: LACMA.

Download the pattern here.

Note: Gridded pattern. Does not include seam allowance.

Back waist length: 52 3/8″ (133 cm)

Notions: 10 spherical buttons, 4 5″ (12.7 cm) tassels, cord, 1/2″ (1.3 cm) bias tape, 3/4″ (1.9 cm) trim, ribbon for plackets, hooks and eyes.

For more historical patterns, see the LACMA Costume and Textile Pattern Project.

Inspired by Lost Horizon

Olivia Hussey in Lost Horizon (1973) Image: Pinterest.

Olivia Hussey has an autobiography out, reminding us of a legendary bomb: the musical Lost Horizon. Naturally, there was a pattern tie-in.

Ross Hunter’s Lost Horizon (1973) was adapted from James Hilton’s bestselling novel about Shangri-La, with costumes by the great Jean Louis.

Lost Horizon illustrated movie poster by Howard Terpning
Lost Horizon poster by Howard Terpning. Image: eBay.

There had been another Lost Horizon, in the 1930s, but it didn’t have music by Burt Bacharach.

Lost Horizon original soundtrack on vinyl - music by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David
Lost Horizon original soundtrack LP. Image: eBay.

McCall’s released at least ten patterns in its Lost Horizon-inspired series. The film opened in March, but the patterns came out later in the year. Two Carefree and Extra-Carefree styles from the series in the Fall 1973 Carefree catalogue:

3739 and 3700 - vintage McCall's patterns inspired by Lost Horizon
Lost Horizon-inspired designs in McCall’s Carefree Home Catalog, Fall 1973. Image: Etsy.

The pattern envelopes bear a tiny version of the film graphics.

Did the hippie trail reach Tibet? Some of the Lost Horizon-inspired patterns look like contemporary western clothing, but most nod to Jean Louis’ fantasia of traditional Tibetan dress, textiles, and embellishment.

1970s McCall's 3701
McCall’s 3701 (1973) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.
McCalls 3679
McCalls 3679 (1973) Image: Etsy.
McCall's 3684
McCall’s 3684 (1973) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.
1970s McCall's 3697
McCall’s 3697 (1973) Image: Etsy.

Of the two designs for men and women, this robe was the most popular. The men’s and women’s caftan came with its own embroidery transfers.

M3738A
McCall’s 3738 (1973) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.
1970s Lost Horizon inspired men's and women's caftan pattern, McCall's 3685
McCall’s 3685 (1973) Image: Etsy.

Unfortunately there’s no pattern for Hussey’s saffron robes.

Olivia Hussey's saffron robes in Lost Horizon (1973) via the Fuck Yeah Olivia Hussey tumblr
Olivia Hussey’s saffron robes in Lost Horizon (1973) Image: Pinterest.

Harem Scarum

Pucci dice: affascinate lo sceicco (Sheikh) - Vogue Italia editorial photographed by Gian Paolo Barbieri
Pucci tunic and harem pants, Vogue Italia, January 1968. Photo: Gian Paolo Barbieri. Image: Pleasurephoto.

The early ’90s are back—and so are sarouel, or harem pants. Here’s a look at vintage patterns for this distinctive trouser style.

Like caftans, sarouel originated in ancient Persia. Persian sirwāl became Turkish şalvar, entering the Western fashion vocabulary via Ottoman culture and the early modern vogue for turquerie.

Tilda Swinton in 18th-century Ottoman dress in Sally Potter's Orlando
Tilda Swinton in 18th-century Ottoman dress in Sally Potter’s Orlando (1992) Photo: Liam Longman. Image: Pinterest.

Şalvar were introduced to Western women’s clothing in the 19th century as part of the Rational Dress movement: Amelia Bloomer conceived her eponymous trousers as “Turkish pants.” (On cycling bloomers see Jonathan Walford, The 1890s Bicycle Bloomer Brouhaha.) Couturier Paul Poiret is usually credited with making “harem” pants fashionable in the period before World War 1.

Bert Green illustration "The Harem Girl," 1911
The Harem Girl. Bert Green for Puck magazine, 1911. Image: Wikipedia.
Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) in her new harem ensemble. Downton Abbey, season 1, episode 3
Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) on Downton Abbey, Season 1 (2011). Image: Pinterest.

1960s

In the mid-’60s, harem pants enjoyed renewed popularity as glam loungewear. (I Dream of Jeannie started airing in September, 1965.) This Vogue pyjama with matching, dolman-sleeved overblouse has a cuffed trouser option:

1960s pyjama and overblouse pattern Vogue 6435
Vogue 6435 (ca. 1965) Image: Mermaid’s Purse.

Pucci’s interest in harem pants predates the jewelled version at the top of this post: a short, blue harem ensemble was part of his 1965 Braniff flight attendant uniform. These high-waisted palazzo pyjamas also have a cuffed, harem option, as worn by Editha Dussler:

1960s Pucci palazzo pyjamas and jacket pattern Vogue 1692 feat. Editha Dussler
Vogue 1692 by Pucci (1967)

Anne de Zogheb modelled these Pucci harem pyjamas, which feature an intriguing self-lined skirt with side openings:

1960s Pucci harem pyjama pattern Vogue 2094 feat. Anne de Zogheb
Vogue 2094 by Pucci (1969)

1970s

Bouffant knickers are a variation on the harem pant. This gold brocade, coat-and-knickers ensemble from Yves Saint Laurent’s Winter 1970 haute couture collection evokes the hippie trail. The model is Viviane Fauny:

1970s Yves Saint Laurent haute couture coat and knickers pattern Vogue 2501
Vogue 2501 by Yves Saint Laurent (1971) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

From 1976, this Kenzo pattern includes a cuffed harem pant option. (A copy is available in the shop.)

1970s Kenzo pattern Butterick 4793
Butterick 4793 by Kenzo (1976)

Hot pink harem pants catch the eye on this Very Easy Vogue pattern, which also includes palazzo pants and a maxi skirt:

1970s maxi skirt, harem or palazzo pant pattern Very Easy Vogue 9633
Vogue 9633 (ca. 1977) Image: Etsy.

1980s

This gold satin pair, from Krizia, has no side seams:

1980s Krizia pattern - harem pants detail - McCall's 7307
McCall’s 7307 by Krizia (1980) Image: PatternVault shop.

In the early ’80s, the dropped-crotch, Zouave style of harem pant came to the fore. This Simplicity pattern includes Zouave pants in two lengths:

1980s Zouave and harem pants pattern Simplicity 5538
Simplicity 5538 (1982) Image: Etsy.

The trousers in this Versace ensemble evoke the harem silhouette, with draped volume tapering to a fitted ankle (see my Versace post for more photos):

Early 1980s Gianni Versace tunic and draped pants pattern Vogue 2702
Vogue 2702 by Gianni Versace (ca. 1981) Image: PatternVault shop.

Very Easy Very Vogue got on the dropped crotch bandwagon with three styles of Zouave pants—view C with side drape:

1980s Zouave dropped-crotch pants pattern Very Easy Very Vogue 9591
Vogue 9591 (1986) Image: Etsy.

1990s

By the early ’90s, hip-hop musician MC Hammer had made so great an impact on popular culture that his characteristic trousers were known as “hammer pants.” Simplicity’s official MC Hammer unisex pants pattern came with not one but two iron-on transfers. (See envelope back here. There was even a doll clothes pattern for the MC Hammer action figure.) Drop-crotch pants could also be found as Butterick Classics and a unisex costume pattern.

Hammer time! 1990s official unisex MC Hammer pants pattern Simplicity 7455
Simplicity 7455 by MC Hammer (1991) Image: Vintage Pattern Wiki.

Issey Miyake designed these lowest of the low dropped-crotch pants, as worn by Phina Oruche:

1990s Issey Miyake pattern including dropped-crotch pant Vogue 1328 feat. Phina Oruche
Vogue 1328 by Issey Miyake (1994) Image: Etsy.

Recent patterns heralding the return of the sarouel include McCall’s 5858, Kwik Sew 3701, and the unisex Burda 7546. If the trend continues, perhaps we’ll see a pattern for Rachel Comey’s Pollock trouser…

Dancers from the robbinschilds company (Pollock sarouel pant), Rachel Comey Resort 2016
Dancers from the robbinschilds company, Rachel Comey Resort 2016. Image: Vogue.com.

Early Sixties Chinoiserie

Maggie Cheung in Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love (2000)
Maggie Cheung in Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000) Image: WWD.

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.

Andrew Bolton, China: Through the Looking Glass. Fashion, Film, Art (2015) Image: Yale / Google Books.

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:

1960s cheongsam and pants pattern - Vogue 5571
Vogue 5571 (c. 1962) Cheongsam and slim pants. Image: PatternVault shop.
1960s Ming stole and dress pattern - Vogue 5648
Vogue 5648 (c. 1962) Cocktail dress with ‘Ming’ cape stole. Image: PatternVault shop.

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:

Back views, Vogue 5648 dress and Ming stole
Back views for Vogue 5648 (c. 1962)

The back neckline detail recalls this Balenciaga evening wrap featured in an earlier Costume Institute exhibit, Orientalism: Visions of the East in Western Dress:

1950s pink Balenciaga evening wrap in the collection of the Costume Institute
Balenciaga evening wrap, 1954-55. Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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.

Poster for Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing Jennifer Jones wearing a cheongsam
Jennifer Jones wears a cheongsam on the poster for Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955) Image: Wikipedia.
Poster for The World of Suzie Wong starring Nancy Kwan
Nancy Kwan wears a cheongsam (upper left) on the poster for The World of Suzie Wong (1960) Image: IMdB.
Nancy Kwan on the cover of Life magazine, October 24, 1960. Photo: Bert Stern for Paramount Pictures. Image: Google Books.

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).

For discussion of the exhibit see Holland Cotter, “In ‘China: Through the Looking Glass,’ Eastern Culture Meets Western Fashion” and Susie Bubble, “Through the Chinese Looking Glass.”

Happy Labour Day, everyone!

Rock the Caftan

Grès caftan by Irving Penn for Vogue, Sept 1963
“Arab déshabillé from Grès.” Vogue, September 1963. Photo: Irving Penn.

Caftans, long, loose-fitting tunics with origins in ancient Persia, have been gaining momentum as an alternative to more structured formal dress. With any luck, there will be some caftans among the goddess gowns at tomorrow’s Academy Awards ceremony.

They say Tsarina Alexandra was the first westerner to make a fashion statement in a caftan, when she dressed as a seventeenth-century Tsarina for a costume ball in 1903. Paul Poiret also advanced the caftan cause, but it was not until the 1950s that the garment really began to influence western fashion. Here’s a look at caftan patterns from the 1950s to now.

Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna as the 17th-century Tsarina Maria Ilyinichna
Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna as the 17th-century Tsarina Maria Ilyinichna. Photographed by L. Levitsky for the album of the February 1903 fancy dress ball at the Winter Palace. Image: Pinterest.
Tsarina Alexandra's Tsarina Maria Ilyinichna masquerade costume
Tsarina Alexandra’s Tsarina Maria Ilyinichna masquerade costume. Image: The Hermitage Amsterdam.

1950s

In the mid-1950s, Christian Dior and Cristóbal Balenciaga’s experiments with silhouette were partly inspired by eastern traditional dress. Dior’s Fall 1955 couture collection (Y line) included caftan-inspired ensembles—coats with high, side-front slits that reveal a slim dress underneath:

1950s Gruau illustration on the cover of Vogue Paris
A Dior caftan design on the cover of Vogue Paris, September 1, 1955. Illustration: René Gruau. Image: Librairie Diktats.
1950s Dior caftan-inspired designs in L'Officiel
Three designs from Christian Dior’s Fall 1955 haute couture collection. L’Officiel, September and October 1955. Photos: Pottier. Images: jalougallery.com.

You can see echoes of the Dior caftan look in contemporary sewing patterns like McCall’s 3525 and 3532, both from late 1955:

1950s dress and unlined coat pattern - McCalls 3525
McCall’s 3525 (1955) Image: Etsy.

McCall’s 3532, called a “slim caftan-and-dress ensemble,” was featured on the cover of McCall’s news leaflet and in the company’s “Make the Clothes that Make the Woman” advertising campaign.  According to the ad, the design is ideal for the season’s “Oriental” fabrics, such as silk twill and raw silk tussah:

McCalls March 1956 3532
McCall’s news, March 1956. Image: eBay.
Sunny Hartnett in a McCalls ad 1956
“Make the clothes that ‘make’ the woman”: McCall’s printed patterns ad, 1956. Model: Sunny Harnett; hat by Adolfo of Emme. Image: eBay.

A Vogue version of the Dior caftan ensemble, Vogue 8759, is available as a reproduction from EvaDress.

1960s

Caftans became popular in the 1960s in tandem with the increasing interest in eastern cultures. The Madame Grès version at the top of this post is cut on the bias, producing geometric seaming detail. The caption reads, “Coup of bias-work by Grès—because this piecing-together of bias angles is sinuous, stark, ravishingly Moroccan.”

This dress from Jean Patou by Michel Goma, Vogue 1699, has what the envelope calls a “caftan neckline.” The model is Beate Schulz:

1960s Patou caftan dress pattern - Vogue 1699
Vogue 1699 by Patou (1967) Model: Beate Schulz. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This circa 1968 Vogue caftan pattern has optional flexible trim:

1960s caftan pattern Vogue 7497
Vogue 7497 (ca. 1968) Image: Etsy.

Other patterns from the late 1960s and early 1970s also reference eastern dress. From 1967, McCall’s 9026 is labelled as an abba in two lengths. Abba is an alternate spelling of aba, commonly abaya: a traditional Arab garment, long, loose-fitting, sleeveless, and made from a single rectangle of fabric. (Today, caftans often function as abayat.) The model is Veronica Hamel:

1960s abayat pattern - McCalls 9026
McCall’s 9026 (1967) Model: Veronica Hamel. Image: Etsy.

Burnoose patterns were marketed as resort wear. A pompom-trimmed version of McCall’s 2377 was photographed for the cover of McCall’s Summer 1970 catalogue:

1970s burnoose pattern - McCall's 2377
McCall’s 2377 (1970) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Marola Witt models Simplicity’s burnoose in the July 1967 issue of Simplicity Fashion News. (Thanks to Mary of PatternGate for the reference.) The text promotes the design’s ‘Arabian’ exoticism: “be exotic in a JIFFY: … the burnoose, born in Arabia, brought up to date here”:

"Be exotic in a JIFFY." Marola Witt models Simplicity 7173 in Simplicity Fashion News, July 1967
“Be exotic in a JIFFY.” Marola Witt models Simplicity 7173 in Simplicity Fashion News, July 1967. Image: Etsy.

1970s

This Halston caftan pattern from McCall’s also includes a top and pants (you can buy yourself a copy from the shop):

1970s Halston caftan, top, and pants pattern - McCall's 3590
McCall’s 3590 by Halston (1973)

This flowing Dior caftan, modelled by Billie Blair, has lots of neckline detail, full-length sleeve openings, and pockets:

1970s Christian Dior caftan pattern feat. Billie Blair - Vogue 1346
Vogue 1346 by Christian Dior (1975) Model: Billie Blair. Image: Etsy.

Vogue 1515 by Nina Ricci is a caftan that’s open in front and attached at the neckline to a handkerchief-hemmed underdress:

1970s Nina Ricci caftan pattern - Vogue 1515
Vogue 1515 by Nina Ricci (1976)

1980s

It’s harder to find post-1970s designer caftan patterns. This wide-sleeved, Oscar de la Renta caftan is trimmed with contrast bands. When worn, the side seams swing forward to raise the hemline in front:

1980s Oscar de la Renta caftan pattern - Vogue 1027
Vogue 1027 by Oscar de la Renta (ca. 1983) Model: Alva Chinn.

1990s

From Issey Miyake, Vogue 2315 is a caftan-inspired summer dress:

1990s Issey Miyake dress pattern - Vogue 2315
Vogue 2315 by Issey Miyake (1999) Image: Etsy.

2000s

Caftan patterns started making a comeback (of sorts) in 2009. Simplicity 2584, a caftan-inspired tunic by Cynthia Rowley, is out of print but still in demand:

Cynthia Rowley dress or tunic pattern - Simplicity 2594
Simplicity 2584 by Cynthia Rowley (2009) Image: Etsy.

Ralph Rucci’s floor-length caftan, Vogue 1181 (now out of print), has an abaya silhouette and interesting construction details—overarm darts, shaped lower sections, and a hook and eye above the low neckline:

Chado Ralph Rucci caftan pattern - Vogue 1181
Vogue 1181 by Chado Ralph Rucci (2010)

The design is from Chado Ralph Rucci Resort 2009:

Rucci Resort 2009 caftans
Two caftans from the Chado Ralph Rucci Resort 2009 collection. Model: Alexandra T. Images: style.com.

Matthew Williamson’s short caftan, available as a free pattern from the Guardian, is also a 2009 design:

A caftan look from Matthew Williamson's Spring 2009 collection. Photo: Jason Hetherington
A caftan look from Matthew Williamson’s Spring 2009 collection. Photo: Jason Hetherington. Image: The Guardian.

And Heather Lou’s printed chiffon caftan is a Fashion Star pattern by Nikki Poulos, McCall’s 6552 (now out of print):

Nikki Poulos caftan pattern - McCall's 6552
McCall’s 6552 by Nikki Poulos (2012) Image: Etsy.

Would you sew a caftan?