Paco Peralta has seen some major milestones lately. Last fall, the Barcelona couturier became Vogue Patterns’ first Spanish designer in half a century, and this year his blog, BCN – UNIQUE Designer Patterns, is celebrating a decade online. (Like Toronto’s YYZ, BCN is both the airport code for Barcelona and shorthand for the city itself.)
The licensing deal brings a new audience to Peralta’s precision-cut designs. Peralta himself was already a pillar of the online sewing community, both for his fine sewing tutorials and as a purveyor of couture patterns, all hand-traced in his studio not far from Gaudí’s Sagrada Família basilica.
Born in Huesca, Aragon, Peralta studied at Barcelona’s Institut Català de la Moda before apprenticing in some of the city’s couture ateliers, who kept alive the traditions of Balenciaga and Rodríguez. He became interested in commercial patterns in the 1980s, when a friend gave him a copy of Vestidal; his first pattern purchase was a Vogue Individualist design by Issey Miyake.
Peralta may also be the world’s foremost collector of Yves Saint Laurent patterns, and his blog doubles as a window into this private archive. As regular readers of this blog will recognize, any high fashion sewing history owes much to his work.
Vogue Patterns introduced Peralta with two designs in last year’s holiday issue. (Click to enlarge.)
You can skip the buttonholes with this short-sleeved jacket: it has a midriff inset instead. For the original ensemble, Peralta used a double-sided Italian wool twill-crepe for the jacket, wool-cashmere for the trousers, and for the shirt, a sturdy Egyptian cotton.
Peralta also used Italian satin-backed wool twill-crepe for his wrap skirt and coat-length jacket. The latter sports a tuxedo-style shawl collar, while the pussy-bow blouse, made in silk crepe de Chine, has French cuffs:
This tunic and pants ensemble was the summer bestseller. The long version is a heavy linen, while the short, gaucho version is a lightweight silk/rayon. Both have silk organza insets.
For the holiday season, mix and match with party separates: a dolman-sleeved top and winter-weight handkerchief skirt, shown in cotton knit and silk-viscose duchesse satin.
Coming soon: even more Paco Peralta designs exclusive to Vogue Patterns.
Like fall’s V1561 jacket, the two Zandra Rhodes offerings are from the Fall 2016 collection, which was sponsored by Kraftangan Malaysia. (Kraftangan is Malay for ‘handicraft.’) As always with Rhodes’ work, the focus is on textiles, here on a double-sided fabric such as metallic jacquard:
Yves Saint Laurent was appointed head designer at Dior after Christian Dior’s death in 1957. Dior had been his mentor; in 1955 he hired Saint Laurent to work at his new boutique, later promoting him to accessories and couture. Richard Avedon’s famous Dovima with Elephants shows a velvet evening dress designed by Yves Saint Laurent while he was still assistant designer:
Saint Laurent’s first collection for Dior, Trapèze (Spring 1958 haute couture), was a huge success, and his later work at the house continued its play with proportion. L’Officiel’s spring preview issue for 1958 featured an illustration of a Dior trapeze dress by René Gruau:
The young Yves Saint Laurent designed six haute couture collections for Dior; Vogue’s licensing represents his last three collections for the house, from 1959 to 1960.
1. Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall/Winter 1959
Saint Laurent’s second Fall/Winter couture collection for Dior was controversial; L’Officiel declared its aesthetic “femininity pushed to the extreme.” Suits were shown with severely cropped jackets, and the skirt silhouettes included voluminous tiers and hobble skirts.
The first Dior patterns were promoted with illustrations by Esther Larson in the late 1959 issues of Vogue Pattern Book and Vogue Printed Pattern News (thanks to the White Cabinet for the ID):
Anticipating demand for this high-profile addition to Vogue’s designer patterns, Vogue Pattern Book noted that the new patterns would be available in stores after November 10th:
The first Dior patterns were photographed by Joseph Leombruno and Jack Bodi, the couple who worked as Leombruno-Bodi. In Vogue magazine’s first issue for 1960, Isabella Albonico modelled the two dress ensembles, Vogue 1471 and 1470:
Leombruno-Bodi also photographed the new Dior patterns for Ladies’ Home Journal. The accompanying text for Vogue 1470 suggests that the hobble skirt silhouette was considered extreme: “Dior’s famous ‘hobble’ skirt makes a charming mid-season costume … The pattern also includes details on how to make the dress without the band at the bottom of the skirt for less extreme effect.” The model on the left is Anne St. Marie (click to enlarge):
Vogue 1470 is a striking dress and jacket ensemble. The short jacket has three-quarter sleeves and bow trim at the waist, while the dress has short sleeves, low V-neckline, and the collection’s distinctive pouf-hobble skirt banded at the knee. The original was navy tweed:
Here’s the envelope description: One piece dress and jacket. Skirt, with or without puffed tunic, joins the bodice at the waistline. Wide V neck-line with band finish. Short kimono sleeves. Short fitted jacket, joined to waistband, has concealed fastening below notched collar; below elbow length sleeves. Novelty belt.
Vogue 1471 is a close-fitting, double-breasted jacket with matching dress. The original was black-and-white tweed:
The envelope description reads: One piece dress and jacket. Flared skirt joins the bodice at the waist-line. Single button closing below the wide V neck-line with extension band finish. Above elbow length and short sleeves. Double breasted jacket has notched collar and below elbow length sleeves. Novelty belt for version A.
Vogue 1472 seems to have been the most popular of the three patterns. The voluminous coat and skirt suit were modelled by Nena von Schlebrügge:
Here’s the envelope description: Coat, suit and scarf. Double-breasted hip length jacket has a notched collar and below elbow length sleeves with buttoned vents. Slim skirt. Double-breasted, full coat in two lengths has a large shaped collar. Concealed pocket in side seams. Below elbow length sleeves joined to dropped shoulder armholes. Straight scarf.
In the next issue of Vogue Pattern Book, the Vogue 1472 coat is called “the newsmaking original Dior coat that tops the suit… Note the extras here: the enormous buttons, the slashed side seams, the stitched collar, the scarf to match. Your own extra: a towering cloche of the checked fabric”:
2. Christian Dior Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1960
Saint Laurent’s Spring 1960 collection for Dior was characterized by rounded silhouettes and vibrant colour. L’Officiel noted its straight suits with jackets cut on the bias to achieve the suppleness of a knitted cardigan.
Vogue 1012, introduced in the August/September 1960 issue of Vogue Pattern Book, includes a collarless, single-breasted skirt suit and sleeveless blouse with crisscross back. The jacket in view A is cut on the bias:
The envelope description reads: Suit and blouse. Short, straight jacket buttons below collarless away from normal neck-line. Welt pockets. Below elbow length kimono sleeves. Skirt has soft gathers from very shallow yoke. Easy fitting overblouse has shoulder straps crisscrossed at back.
This suit is similar to Vogue 1012, but has a more conventional button front:
These Guy Arsac editorial photos of a red “boule” coat and teal dress show the collection’s play with colour and silhouette:
3. Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall/Winter 1960
Yves Saint Laurent’s controversial final collection for Dior, le Beat look, was inspired by Left Bank icon Juliette Gréco and the Beatniks of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. It was innovative for its infusion of youthful, bohemian street style into the couture, with Beat elements including leather jackets, knitted turtlenecks, and plenty of black.
Vogue produced two patterns from this collection, drawn from the more conventional designs. Vogue 1041 is a skirt suit and matching, loose coat with a big standing collar and side slits:
Here’s the envelope description: Suit and coat. Easy fitting jacket has high buttoned closing below neck-band. Vent opening in side front seams. Bracelet length and elbow length sleeves. Slightly gathered skirt has outside stitched front panel concealing pockets. Seven eighths length loose coat has opening in side seams. Away-from-neck-line standing neck-band. Bracelet length kimono sleeves.
Philippe Pottier photographed the purple coat ensemble for L’Officiel‘s winter collections issue:
Vogue 1041 was photographed for Vogue magazine by Henry Clarke:
Vogue 1049 is a skirt suit and sleeveless overblouse. The blouse is worn over a barrel skirt with attached underbodice for a dropped-waist effect. The jacket of view A is designed to be worn open:
The envelope description reads: Suit and blouse. Box jacket has cut away fronts and simulated buttoned closing or complete buttoned closing, below standing band collar. Easy fitting overblouse with optional tied belt has bateau neck-line. Above elbow length sleeves and sleeveless. Slightly barrelled shaped skirt attached to bodice.
The dotted black ensemble in duchesse velvet was photographed for this Chatillon Mouly Roussel advertisement in L’Officiel:
I also found the black suit in a later L’Officiel composite:
These William Klein editorial photos featuring Dior Fall 1960 designs capture the Beat collection’s youthful spirit:
Thanks to Paco Peralta,* I received a review copy of the new book from Museu Tèxtil i d’Indumentària de Barcelona, Pedro Rodríguez: Catalogue of Maria Brillas’s Dresses. The museum’s collection of Pedro Rodríguez’ work was recently expanded when it acquired the wardrobe of Maria Brillas (1905-1992), a Barcelona society lady who dressed exclusively in Rodríguez for much of her life.
Brillas’ extensive wardrobe—over 300 pieces, from the 1920s to the 1970s—covers most of Rodríguez’ career, and in 2011 the collection was the subject of a major exhibition, ¿Qué me pongo? El guardarropa de Maria Brillas por Pedro Rodríguez (What to Wear? Maria Brillas’ wardrobe by Pedro Rodríguez). The book concludes the museum’s project of cataloguing the new collection.
As I found when preparing a brief discussion of Rodríguez for a Mad Men series post, it isn’t easy to find English-language studies of the designer and his work. Vintage sewing enthusiasts will be aware of Rodríguez through his licensed sewing patterns, which were available from Advance, Spadea, and especially Vogue Patterns in the 1950s and 1960s (click to enlarge):
Three short essays accompany the catalogue. Fashion historian Sílvia Rosés’ contribution, “Pedro Rodríguez: the Birth of a Fashion House and the Evolution of a Style,” gives readers an overview of Rodríguez’ 60-year career, with special attention to collections presented during the golden age of couture. Museum preservationist Sílvia Ventosa’s essay, “From the Wardrobe to the Museum: The Dresses of Maria Brillas in the Museu Tèxtil i d’Indumentària de Barcelona,” recounts the story of Brillas’ donation to the museum and its efforts in transferring her private wardrobe to a public, institutional context.
In “The Role of the Client in the Creation and Popularizing of New Trends,” Miren Arzalluz, who curated the 2011 exhibition, offers an intriguing perspective on the couturier-client relationship. Noting the long friendship between Maria Brillas and Pedro Rodríguez and the designer’s published observations on his clients’ role in the design process, she argues that “the relationship between designer and client was far richer, more complex and more fruitful than many people were willing to recognize” (67).
The book’s introductory material includes photographs of Pedro Rodríguez and models wearing his designs, but none of the client whose wardrobe the catalogue documents. Although an image gallery may be seen on the museum’s website, Brillas’ absence from the book feels like an oversight. In this photo taken in the 1950s, Maria Brillas dances with her husband at a formal event:
The catalogue proper is divided into eight sections organized by type; a brief summary introduces each section. There are five sections devoted to Rodríguez’ couture garments for Brillas: day dresses; suits and tailored ensembles; coats; cocktail or ceremonial dresses; and evening gowns. Here are some highlights:
Two sections are devoted to accessories, one for hats and the other for shoes, gloves, and bags. The hats are the earliest pieces in the catalogue, with many from the 1920s and 1930s. Some hats were produced at Rodríguez’ studio, while others were commissioned by him from prominent milliners. Brillas’ shoes were made to match her dresses.
The final section documents the collection’s miscellaneous other pieces: blouses, skirts, boleros, a bathrobe dress, a marabou-trimmed cape, and a fancy dress costume with mask headpiece:
It’s a beautifully produced volume, with high-quality photos presented in a reader-friendly smaller format. (You can see more photos at the website of Folch Studio, the design firm behind the book.) My only quibble is with the English text (I don’t read Spanish or Catalan), which contains infelicities that seem to be an effect of translation.
This book is a valuable addition to English-language resources on Rodríguez, and will assist in further study of the designer and his place in the history of haute couture.
* Paco was a member of the collection’s monitoring committee; you can read his post on the exhibition here.
Rossend Casanova (ed.), Pedro Rodríguez: Catàleg dels vestits de Maria Brillas / Catálogo de los vestidos de Maria Brillas / Catalogue of Maria Brillas’s Dresses, Barcelona: Museu Tèxtil i d’Indumentària de Barcelona, 2012.