Lanvin at 125: Jeanne Lanvin

December 30, 2014 § 14 Comments

Lanvin 125: 1889-2014

Lanvin anniversary logo. Image via WWD.

Lanvin celebrated its 125th anniversary this year. Founded in 1889 by Jeanne Lanvin, the house marked the occasion with an extensive look into its archives on InstagramPinterest, Facebook, and the new Lanvin Heritage website. (See WWD’s article here.) In 2015, Paris’ Palais Galliera will host a major exhibition devoted to Jeanne Lanvin.

1920s Lanvin hand embroidery

Lanvin hand embroidery, ca. 1925. Image via Instagram.

Commercial sewing patterns based on Lanvin originals were produced between the 1920s and the 1970s. Four head designers presided over the house during that period; I’ll be devoting a post to each designer.

The interwar Lanvin designs available as sewing patterns are by Jeanne Lanvin (1867-1946), who was known for her romantic, youthful dresses with couture embellishment, particularly her robe de style, a full-skirted alternative to the 1920s tubular silhouette.

Lanvin label, été 1926, from a robe de style at The Costume Institute

Lanvin label, 1926. Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

1920s

From McCall’s earliest couture patterns, this robe de style with a big bow at the waist and skirt with beaded appliqués was modelled by film star Hope Hampton:

Hope Hampton wears a 1920s Lanvin evening dress, McCall 3935, in McCall Style News January 1925

Hope Hampton in Lanvin, McCall Style News, January 1925.

A version of this dress is in the collection of The Costume Institute:

Lanvin robe de style, Fall/Winter 1924-25 in the collection of The Costume Institute

Lanvin robe de style, Fall/Winter 1924-25. Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

McCall 4856 is a short evening or afternoon dress with sheer overlay. The version on the right is in Lanvin blue:

Illustrations of a 1920s Lanvin dress pattern - McCall 4856

Illustrations in McCall Quarterly, Summer 1927. Images courtesy of Debby Zamorski.

(McCall’s also sold transfer patterns for beading and embroidery; the catalogue illustrations show nos. 1558 and 1388.)

This simple double-breasted coat from Pictorial Review was adapted from a Lanvin design:

1920s Lanvin adaptation coat pattern - Pictorial Review 3978

Pictorial Review 3978 adapted from Lanvin (1927). Image via vintage4me2.

Pictorial Review’s catalogue illustration shows the coat with contrast lapels and fur cuffs and collar:

Illustration of Pictorial Review 3978 coat adapted from Lanvin in a 1920s pattern catalogue

Illustration from Pictorial Fashion Book, Winter 1927-28. Image via vintage4me2.

Trim is an important feature of this Lanvin day dress, which is shown in my 1929 Paris Pattern leaflet (available in PDF from my Etsy shop):

1920s Lanvin dress pattern - Paris Pattern 1122

Paris Pattern 1122 by Lanvin (1929)

1930s

McCall 7711 is a day dress with drape-necked bodice and bow-trimmed sleeves. View A, with long sleeves and contrast bodice, has topstitched sleeves and belt that are characteristic of 1930s Lanvin:

1930s Lanvin dress pattern - McCall 7711

McCall 7711 by Lanvin (1934) Image via VPLL on Pinterest.

Here’s the illustration from McCall’s Advanced Paris Styles catalogue:

Lanvin illustration in McCall Advanced Paris Styles, March 1934

Illustration by Blanche Rothschild in McCall Advanced Paris Styles, March 1934. Image via vintage4me2 on eBay.

In late 1934, McCall and Pictorial Review both produced versions of the same Lanvin afternoon dress: a slim, full-sleeved gown with back cutouts. A reproduction of the McCall version is available from Past Patterns:

1930s Lanvin afternoon dress pattern - McCall 7959

McCall 7959 by Lanvin (1934) Image via Petite Main on Pinterest.

In Blanche Rothschild’s illustration for McCall’s magazine, the dress is shown with McCall 7954 by Georgette Renal:

"Afternoons this Autumn," illustration showing dresses by Lanvin and Renal, McCall's magazine, September 1934

Illustration by Blanche Rothschild, McCall’s magazine, September 1934. Image via Vintage123.

The text for McCall 7959 reads, “Lanvin’s long skirted afternoon dress has a new feeling of formality. The back of the bodice is suspended in folds from a cross shoulder band, slit in triangles to expose the back. Raglan sleeves provide material contrast. The skirt spreads, bell shape, into a hesitation hem.”

The Vintage Pattern Lending Library has a reproduction of the Pictorial Review adaptation of the dress, Pictorial Review 7363:

1930s Lanvin-adapted evening gown pattern - Pictorial Review 7363

Pictorial Review 7363 adapted from Lanvin (1934). Image via VPLL on Pinterest.

Here’s an illustration of the Pictorial Review adaptation from the Winter 1934 catalogue:

Illustration of a Lanvin-adapted evening dress pattern Pictorial Review 7363 in a 1930s pattern catalogue

Illustration from the Pictorial Fashion Book, Winter 1934-35.

McCall 8591 (previously featured in my goddess gowns post) is a glamourous evening dress with pleated shoulder draperies. This illustration is from the McCall catalogue:

Illustration of Lanvin evening gown McCall 8591 in a 1930s McCall pattern catalogue

McCall 8591 by Lanvin (1936) Image courtesy of Debby Zamorski.

Marian Blynn illustrated McCall 8591 for McCall’s magazine (the other gown is by Ardanse):

Marian Blynn illustration of couturier evening patterns McCall 8591 and 8597 in 1930s McCall's magazine

Illustration in McCall’s magazine, January 1936. Illustrator: Marian Blynn. Image via eBay.

The caption reads: “Long scarfs, drifting down from the shoulders, are used by Lanvin. The scarf dress here is hers, and when you dance it is supposed to make you look as though you were floating. These scarfs are also worn wound once around the arm.”

Just for fun, here are two photos by Horst P. Horst and Albert Harlingue showing Lanvin designs from the 1930s:

Model wearing lame draped cowlneck blouse with rolls like corrugated pipe around deep armholes by Lanvin, and black skirt, holding vanity case by Boucheron

Lamé blouse by Lanvin, ca. 1934. Photo: Horst P. Horst. Image via Corbis.

Jeanne Lanvin with model, ca. 1930s, photographed by Albert Harlingue

Jeanne Lanvin with model, ca. 1930s. Photo: Albert Harlingue. Image: Roger-Viollet via Catwalk Yourself.

Next in the series: Marie-Blanche de Polignac’s early Vogue Paris Originals.

Happy New Year, everyone!

1930s Children’s Coat – Pictorial Review 6128

March 10, 2014 § 12 Comments

30s coat pocket

1930s child’s coat detail — Pictorial Review 6128.

I made our little niece a vintage ’30s coat as a Hannukah gift. For the pattern I used Pictorial Review 6128, a double-breasted coat with optional back belt and pockets.

1930s child's coat pattern - Pictorial Review 6128

Pictorial Review 6128 (1932) Child’s Coat.

Here’s the diagram and description from the envelope back. It’s a unisex coat for small children, and was available only in sizes 1 to 6:

Envelope back with technical drawing of 1930s child's coat - Pictorial Review 6128. Child's coat. Snug, sturdy and comfortable is this little double-breasted coat with straight fronts and a belted back. The fronts may be worn closed to the neck or rolled to form revers. Belt and inserted pockets are optional.

Technical drawing and description, Pictorial Review 6128 (1932)

The recommended fabrics were flannel, camel’s hair, piqué, velveteen, cheviot, and serge. We had a length of purple Woolrich tweed that felt the right weight for a coat. (Established in 1830, Woolrich is North America’s oldest woolen mill. Today, Woolrich tweed is a wool-nylon blend for durability.) I cut some leather trim for the welt pockets from an old pair of leather gloves, and my modest button stash yielded a set of one-inch vintage Civil Defence buttons for the front and belt.

Since the pattern is the old die-cut type and needed no alterations, I tried cutting using the original tissue pieces held down with weights.

I’m new to tailoring (and coat-making), so throughout the process I referred to Paco Peralta’s tailoring tutorial and my 1970s Vogue Sewing Book on tailoring techniques. The coat collar gave me the opportunity to try out pad stitching. The pattern even gave instructions; the undercollar is to be interfaced with muslin and pad stitched, with the collar stand first worked with a running stitch:

1930s instruction diagrams for undercollar - Pictorial Review 6128

Instruction diagrams for undercollar – Pictorial Review 6128

Here are some progress photos of the pad stitched undercollar:

30sCoatPadstitching_a

30scoatcollar_a

This is the undercollar attached to the coat body:

30s coat collar

Pad stitched undercollar on Pictorial Review 6128

You could call my approach to the coat half-tailored—somewhere between the pattern’s Depression-era muslin collar interlining and modern tailoring’s padstitched hair canvas interfacing, all catch-stitched along the seam lines. As a compromise between vintage and modern methods I used a sew-in interfacing on coat facings, belt, and pocket welts. (None was called for in the pattern.) To handle the heavy tweed, I had no tailor’s clapper, so I pounded the steamed seams and edges with a small cedar block we had on hand. Paco’s tip of making a few stitches across lapel corners worked wonders for my first-ever lapels.

I bagged the lining and added handworked keyhole buttonholes—fanned at one end, with a bar tack at the other. Partway through making the coat we decided against the convertible collar, so I omitted the lapel buttonholes. (As with many vintage patterns, there were no button/buttonhole markings.) It was my first stab at handworked buttonholes on heavy fabric; I love how the hand stitches create an edge that curves out to the ridge of knots that lines the buttonhole opening.

Here are some photos of the finished coat:

30schildcoat

30schildcoat_detail

I think of Civil Defence buttons as ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ buttons since the font and crown are similar to those on the WW2 propaganda poster originally produced by Britain’s Ministry of Information. (More on the Keep Calm font here.) Some closeup views of the buttons and buttonholes:

30schildcoat_buttons1

30schildcoat_buttons2

And the little back belt:

30schildcoat_backdetail

Our loft’s walls have some mysterious industrial hardware that proved useful in showing the scale of the coat:

30schildcoat_side

30schildcoat+friend

Cutting straight from a die-cut pattern was an interesting experience, but I still prefer printed or traced tissue for cutting and marking. An oft-cited drawback of unprinted patterns is that the notches and other markings don’t always line up. This was true of the coat pattern, but it wasn’t hard to correct.

It’s always a pleasure working with wool, and I really enjoyed the challenge of trying out tailoring with a heavy fabric. The finished coat is something our niece will grow into, especially in the shoulders. But she does love the pockets! I see more coat-making in our future…

(Cross-posted to We Sew Retro.)

30schildcoat_back

Year of the Horse: Vintage Equestrian Patterns

January 31, 2014 § 7 Comments

1927 Vogue illustration of a Busvine sidesaddle habit by Guillermo Bolin

Busvine sidesaddle ensemble in Vogue, 1927. Illustration: Guillermo Bolin. Image: Man and the Horse.

Happy Chinese new year! In honour of the Year of the Horse, here’s a selection of equestrian sewing patterns from the 1920s to the 1990s.

Like tennis wear, modern equestrian wear begins in the 1920s. Before the First World War, women generally rode sidesaddle; equestriennes wore fashionably voluminous riding skirts designed to fall flatteringly on horseback, with breeches underneath. In addition to 19th-century Harper’s Bazaar patterns for riding habits, the Commercial Pattern Archive’s “Riding” category reveals a 1909 pattern for ladies’ riding breeches (Butterick 3313), and two divided equestrian skirts from the early teens (Butterick 5792 and Pictorial Review 5003).

By 1920 the major American pattern companies were producing commercial patterns for women’s jodhpurs—often called riding breeches. As the illustration at the top of this post shows, some women continued to ride sidesaddle, even into the 1930s, but I haven’t found any modern patterns for sidesaddle riding habits.

1920s Saks advertisement illustration for equestrian wear, March 1925.

Illustration from a Saks Fifth Avenue advertisement, spring 1925.

1920s

Butterick 2255, circa 1920, is a pattern for a riding coat and breeches worthy of Lady Mary. The envelope specifies that the design is for cross saddle riding:

Early 1920s cross saddle riding habit pattern - Butterick 2255

Butterick 2255 (1920) Image via the Commercial Pattern Archive, Kevin L. Seligman collection. For research purposes only.

This 1920 McCall pattern for riding breeches shows the pattern diagram and instructions on the envelope (click to enlarge):

Early 1920s riding breeches pattern - McCall 9536

McCall 9536 (1920) Ladies’ riding breeches. Image via eBay.

I have this 1923 jodhpurs pattern in my collection—for when I learn to ride, of course:

1920s jodhpurs sewing pattern - McCall 3214

McCall 3214 (1923) Ladies’ riding breeches.

This McCall’s illustration of a riding coat and breeches is from the same year, but it shows a different breeches pattern, as well as a more streamlined riding coat than a few years previous:

1920s McCall Quarterly illustration of a riding jacket and jodhpurs

McCall Quarterly, Fall 1923. Image via eBay.

For more on 1920s equestrian wear see Unsung Sewing Patterns‘ posts on Butterick 4147, a pair of riding knickers, and Pictorial Review 1435 and 1438, a riding jacket and breeches.

1930s

Jodhpurs were not just for equestrian sports: they were the “trousers of adventure,” worn for activities like driving, hiking and camping, safaris, and aviation. This early ’30s illustration from Pictorial Review shows the latest sports styles, including beach pajamas and clothes for tennis and golf. The riding habit includes a sleeveless jacket or waistcoat (click to enlarge):

1930s Pictorial Review 5554 riding jacket and 5553 breeches, Pictorial Review Fashion Book, Summer 1931

Sports fashions in Pictorial Review Fashion Book, Summer 1931. Image via eBay.

Butterick 5647 is a pattern for cuffed, fall-front jodhpurs with notched back waist and side and back pockets. Nabby at This Old Life made these for her vintage aviatrix costume (click image for post):

1930s jodhpurs pattern - Butterick 5647

Butterick 5647 (c. 1934) Image via This Old Life.

McCall 9412, from September 1937, looks to be a rare early pattern for western-style riding pants, with reinforced seat and inner leg. I’d love to see a better-quality image; this one was found in a lot on eBay:

1930s riding pants pattern - McCall 9412

McCall 9412 (1937) Image via eBay.

Also from the late 1930s, Pictorial Review 9337 is a pattern for a tailored shirt and sleek pair of riding trousers:

1930s riding trousers and shirt pattern - Pictorial Review 9337

Pictorial Review 9337 (c. 1938) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

1970s

Apart from children’s equestrian patterns, I couldn’t find any patterns from the major pattern companies that were specifically for riding until the 1970s, when western-style riding wear was in fashion. McCall’s 4870 includes riding pants and a shirt-jacket with contrast, embroidered yoke and cuffs. The model is Angeleen Gagliano, who was a horsewoman in real life:

1970s riding jacket-shirt, pants, and skirt pattern - McCall's 4870

McCall’s 4870 (1975) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This Butterick pattern by Jane Tise shows the vogue for western shirts:

1970s Jane Tise western shirt pattern - Butterick 5629

Butterick 5629 by Jane Tise (1970s) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Vogue even had a his-and-hers western shirt pattern, Vogue 8973/8976 (the ’70s-averse are advised not to click the links).

The influence of the western shirt is evident in this Halston dress with scalloped yoke:

1970s Halston dress pattern - McCall 6841

McCall 6841 by Halston (1979) Image via Betsy Vintage.

1980s

Many of you will remember the 1980s jodhpurs trend, when you could dress for English-style riding far from any stable. Exhibit A is New Look 6013:

1980s jodhpurs sewing pattern - New Look 6013

New Look 6013 (1980s) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

There were also faux jodhpurs—pleated, tapered pants like those in Burda 5332 or McCall’s 2077.

Gianni Versace and Claude Montana both showed jodhpurs in the ’80s, but unfortunately Vogue Patterns doesn’t seem to have released any patterns for them. Just for fun, here’s a Lord Snowdon photo of aristocrat Angela Rawlinson in a jacket and tweed jodhpurs by John McIntyre:

1980s Lord Snowdon photo for Vogue of Angela Rawlinson in a John McIntyre equestrian look

John McIntyre jacket and jodhpurs, Vogue, July 1985. Photo: Lord Snowdon. Model: Angela Rawlinson.

1990s

Little Vogue 7876, with its young model leaning on a stone balustrade, is interesting for showing the social ambition associated with horseback riding. The jodhpurs are a little loose for actual riding (the similarly styled Vogue 7842 also has a looser fit):

1990s girl's equestrian/jodhpurs pattern - Little Vogue 7876

Little Vogue 7876 (1990) Image via Etsy.

With the advent of stretch fabrics, riding pants no longer needed lots of room in the upper leg. These jodhpurs by Calvin Klein have a sleeker fit that’s more in line with late 20th-century equestrian wear. They come with detachable stirrups, and may be made in synthetic suede:

Early 1990s Calvin Klein jodhpurs and shirt pattern - Vogue 2513

Vogue 2513 by Calvin Klein (1990) Image via Etsy.

McCall’s 6737’s riding pants are for stretch fabrics, reinforced with leather or ultrasuede in the seat and inner leg. The pattern also marks a return to the waistcoat:

1990s NY/NY riding pattern - McCall's 6737

McCall’s 6737 by NY/NY (1993) Image via Etsy.

Vogue 1655 by DKNY brings us full circle: the riding-style jacket was photographed in traditional scarlet at a country estate:

1990s DKNY riding jacket pattern - Vogue 1655

Vogue 1655 by DKNY (1995) Image via Etsy.

For more on the history of women’s equestrian wear see Mackay-Smith, Druesedow, and Ryder’s Man and the Horse: An Illustrated History of Equestrian Apparel (Simon and Schuster, 1984), which was published to accompany the Polo/Ralph Lauren-sponsored Costume Institute exhibit held from December, 1984 to September, 1985.

If you’d like to sew your own sidesaddle riding habit, reproductions of early French magazine patterns for costumes d’amazone (women’s riding habits) are available from eBay shop Au fil du temps. For a modern equestrian look, Folkwear’s Equestriennes pattern, Folkwear 506, includes a riding jacket, waistcoat, and jodhpurs based on garments in the collection of the Costume Institute.

Special thanks to Naomi for acting as my in-house equestrianism consultant.

Schiaparelli Patterns, Part 1

January 22, 2014 § 11 Comments

Guinevere Van Seenus in vintage 1930s Schiaparelli, Vogue, May 2012. Photo: Steven Meisel. Image via vogue.com.

Guinevere Van Seenus in vintage 1930s Schiaparelli, Vogue, May 2012. Photo: Steven Meisel. Image via vogue.com.

Have you heard? The house of Schiaparelli, founded by the legendary Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) and dormant since 1954, has been revived.

Schiaparelli label, summer 1938 - 21 place vendôme Paris

Schiaparelli label, 1938. Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Last year Christian Lacroix presented a one-off couture collection for the house, and this week the new head designer, Marco Zanini, presented his first Schiaparelli collection at the Paris couture. (See the Spring 2014 collection on style.com, or read W’s coverage of Zanini’s appointment here.)

Christian Lacroix sketch for his Schiaparelli collection

Christian Lacroix sketch for his Schiaparelli collection. Image via WWD.

Stella Tennant in Schiaparelli by Marco Zanini, 2014

The opening look in Marco Zanini’s debut collection for Schiaparelli. Model: Stella Tennant. Image via vogue.com.

The high-profile revival follows the Costume Institute’s major 2012 exhibition, Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations (see my earlier post here). And, timed to coincide with couture week, an auction of Schiaparelli’s personal collection takes place Thursday at Christie’s Paris:

Schiaparelli Christies

Collection personnelle d’Elsa Schiaparelli. Image via Christie’s.

Many of you will be aware of Schiaparelli’s licensed sewing patterns, since she was among the first designers of Vogue Paris Originals. There were also Schiaparelli knitting patterns. If you knit, you can download a free pattern for Schiaparelli’s 1927 Bowknot sweater, updated by Lisa Stockebrand (Ravelry page here):

Douglas Pollard illustration of Schiaparelli's bowknot sweater, Vogue, December 1927

Bowknot sweater by Elsa Schiaparelli, Vogue, December 15, 1927. Illustration: Douglas Pollard.

Like Vionnet, Schiaparelli also saw commercial sewing patterns for her designs in the interwar period, released by companies including the McCall Pattern Company, Pictorial Review, and the Paris Pattern Company. Here is a selection of early Schiaparelli patterns.

This McCall pattern is the earliest Schiaparelli pattern I’ve seen. Dating to the autumn of 1929, it’s a pattern for a blouse, skirt, and coat with angled pockets. It was still shown in a 1930 catalogue:

1920s Schiaparelli pattern - McCall 5839

McCall 5839 by Schiaparelli in the McCall catalogue, 1930. Image via echopoint.

Here is the illustration of McCall 5839 in McCall’s magazine:

1920s Schiaparelli sewing pattern - McCall 5839

McCall 5839 by Schiaparelli. McCall’s magazine, October 1929. Illustration: Blanche Rothschild.

This Schiaparelli pattern from the Paris Pattern Company has some unusual details. The wrap skirt buttons diagonally across the hips and has two slits through which the blouse’s attached scarf can pass, for a suspender effect:

Paris 1647

Paris Pattern 1647 by Schiaparelli (c. 1931)

McCall 6981 is a three-piece suit consisting of a jacket, cropped pussy-bow blouse, and sleeveless, bias dress:

1930s Schiaparelli sewing pattern - McCall 6981

McCall 6981 by Schiaparelli (1932)

Here’s an illustration of this design (centre, no. 14) in the summer 1932 issue of McCall Fashion Bi-Monthly. Elsewhere it calls McCall 6981 a “trick” ensemble, since the blouse and jacket disguise a dress suitable for tennis:

McCallBiMonthlyJulAug1932

McCall Fashion Bi-Monthly, July/August 1932. Image via carbonated on flickr.

This Benito illustration for Vogue shows a similar Schiaparelli ensemble, worn with a tomato red Sicilian cap:

1930s Eduardo García Benito illustration: Schiaparelli beige suit, blue blouse and Sicilian cap; pink jacket and brown skirt.

Schiaparelli beige suit, blue blouse and Sicilian cap; pink jacket and brown skirt, Vogue, May 1, 1932. Illustration: Eduardo García Benito. Image via Corbis.

This Pictorial Review Schiaparelli adaptation dates to late 1933. The dress has interesting details like shoulder flanges, diagonal waist darts, and inverted darts radiating from the neckline:

1930s Schiaparelli dress pattern - Pictorial Review 6764

Pictorial Review 6764 adapted from Schiaparelli (c. 1933) Image via Best Vintage Patterns.

Here’s the catalogue illustration for Pictorial Review 6764:

Illustration of Pictorial Review 6764 adapted from Schiaparelli

Illustration of Pictorial Review 6764 (c. 1933) Image via Best Vintage Patterns.

Paris Pattern 2286, illustrated in my 1934 Paris and Style Patterns booklet, is a jaunty ensemble consisting of a coat, skirt, and jacket blouse. The description reads, “A superb town and country suit. Just the thing for that week end vacation. Top coat can be worn over any dress. The skirt and jacket blouse make an ideal spectator costume”:

1930s Paris Pattern by Schiaparelli

Paris Pattern 2286 by Schiaparelli. Paris and Style Patterns leaflet, June 1934.

Also in this leaflet is the Schiaparelli dress and capelet ensemble available as a reproduction from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library. The dress has shoulder yokes, puffed sleeves, and a skirt with pointed set-in panels and pair of buttons at the waist; the matching capelet is trimmed with pleating and buttons to the skirt front. Thanks to owner Deirdre Duggan for providing a scan of the envelope:

1930s Schiaparelli sewing pattern - Paris Pattern 2301

Paris Pattern 2301 by Schiaparelli (c. 1934) Image courtesy of the Vintage Pattern Lending Library.

Finally, from McCall’s, this Schiaparelli dinner dress in two lengths dates to winter 1936-37. The bodice back extends into sleeves that are gathered into a heart-shaped bodice:

1930s Schiaparelli dinner dress pattern - McCall 9076

McCall 9076 by Schiaparelli (1936) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The pattern is illustrated in the January 1937 issue of McCall’s magazine, which made much of the new, street-length hemline:

McCall Jan1937 Schiap

McCall’s magazine, January 1937. Image via eBay.

Schiaparelli patterns from between the wars tend to lack the surrealist touches we associate with the designer, since many of these were based on couture embellishment, accessories, or notions. (Cricket buttons, anyone?) I remember reading a contemporary 1930s article that said Schiaparelli pieces were so simple, they were too easy to copy. Today one might say it’s her brand of dynamic severity that makes her clothes seem so modern.

Bonus: The Art Deco Society of California has posted instructions for Schiaparelli’s “Mad Cap” (via What Would Nancy Drew Wear?).

Next: Schiaparelli’s postwar Vogue Paris Originals.

Vionnet Patterns

December 13, 2012 § 18 Comments

McCall Style News March 1931 detail

The reputation of Madeleine Vionnet (1876-1975), the brilliant innovator in draping and the bias cut, has only increased with time. The label she founded in 1912 was recently revived, and Betty Kirke’s book is back in print for the house’s 100th anniversary. You can see Vionnet pieces online at the V&A and the Costume Institute. There’s even an animated video on Vimeo demonstrating the construction of one Vionnet dress. (For more on Vionnet, see Lisa’s Coletterie post; Betty Kirke’s 1989 Threads article; and Sandra Ericson’s revised 2010 Threads article, in pdf here.)

Reynaldo Luza Vionnet advertisement, 1926

Vionnet advertisement, 1926. Illustration: Reynaldo Luza. Image: HPrints.

In recent years, those who wished to reproduce a Vionnet design could trace their pattern from a book. Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen’s Dresses and their Construction, c. 1860-1940 (Macmillan, 1982) includes five Vionnet patterns, and the Japanese companion volume to Kirke’s book (Bunka Fashion College, 2002; available on amazon.co.jp) contains tested, traceable versions of twenty-eight of Kirke’s Vionnet patterns. Costumer Koshka has made the 1919 Vionnet dress in Patterns of Fashion, while the Vionnet Identique project saw all the designs in Kirke’s book made up in half-scale for an exhibition and book (for photos see this Threads post and the book preview).

Madeleine Vionnet label, circa 1930.

Label from an evening cape by Madeleine Vionnet, c. 1930. Image: the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In the 1920s and 1930s, dressmakers could sew Vionnet designs using commercial patterns. McCall’s released patterns based on Vionnet originals, while companies like Pictorial Review sold adaptations of Vionnet designs. Here is a selection of Vionnet patterns.

These two patterns for a negligee and day dress date to 1926. The negligee is reversible:

1920s Vionnet pattern for a reversible negligee, McCall 4467

McCall 4467 by Vionnet (1926) Reversible negligee.

1920s Vionnet pattern for a long-sleeved day dress, McCall 4468

McCall 4468 by Vionnet (1926) Dress.

Vionnet was known for her robes à mouchoirs, or handkerchief dresses, like this evening dress:

1920s Vionnet pattern for a handkerchief evening dress, McCall 4855

McCall 4855 by Vionnet (1927) Evening dress. Image: eBay.

This formal dress is another handkerchief dress. Note the triangular sleeve insets:

1920s Vionnet pattern for a formal handkerchief dress, McCall 5635

McCall 5635 by Vionnet (1928) Dress.

Here’s a magazine illustration of McCall 5635 from the following year. The accompanying text reads, “A Vionnet gown characteristic of the graceful new formal frocks is simply made to fall in points at the center front and at the sides and back”:

Vionnet pattern illustration in McCall's magazine, April 1929

Illustration from McCall’s magazine, April 1929.

Both McCall’s and Pictorial Review released patterns for this circa 1931 ensemble:

Early 1930s Vionnet dress pattern - McCall 6451

McCall 6451 by Vionnet (c. 1931) Image: eBay.

1930s Vionnet adaptation pattern for a dress and jacket, Pictorial 5592

Pictorial 5592 adapted from Vionnet. Pictorial Review, June 1931.

McCall’s magazine showed two illustrations for this design (McCall 6451); the text on the first page reads, “A masterpiece in simplicity that only Vionnet could have created. The chic contrasting bodice top is sleeveless and joins the skirt in a coat-dress closing”:

1930s Vionnet illustration in McCall magazine

McCall’s magazine, 1931. Image: Etsy.

1930s Vionnet illustration in McCall magazine

McCall’s magazine, 1931. Image: Etsy.

The ensemble was also illustrated on the cover of McCall Style News shown at the top of this post. Here’s the full illustration:

1930s McCall 6451 illustration on the cover of McCall Style News

McCall Style News, March 1931.

This 1932 Pictorial Review design for an asymmetrical day dress was adapted from Vionnet. The skirt and applied front are cut on the bias:

1930s Vionnet adaptation dress pattern, Pictorial 6143

Pictorial 6143 adapted from Vionnet (1932) Dress.

Here’s the corresponding illustration in Pictorial Review magazine. The accompanying text reads, “Yes, it’s a Vionnet, we knew you would recognize it in the characteristic handling of the diagonal seaming, in the clever use of button trimming, and in its absolute simplicity. Make it in a sheer linen with contrasting button accents”:

1930s Pictorial Review Vionnet illustration, Pictorial 6143 and 6147

Pictorial 6143 and 6147, both adapted from Vionnet. Pictorial Review, July 1932.

Finally, a three-piece suit pattern from the same year, consisting of a short-sleeved blouse, high-waisted suspender skirt, and jacket that criss-crosses in the front:

1930s Vionnet suit pattern, McCall 6999

McCall 6999 by Vionnet (1932) Three piece suit.

This illustration for McCall 6999 accompanies a trend report on suits:

1930s Vionnet illustration from the McCall Fashion Bi-Monthly

Illustration from the McCall Fashion Bi-Monthly, July-August 1932. Image: carbonated on flickr.

And if you’d like to try your hand at some Vionnet-style fabric embellishment, the Center for Pattern Design sells a pattern for Vionnet roses.

Madeleine Vionnet is said to have considered herself a “geometrician”; the brilliance of her technique reveals itself in her garments’ construction. Have you tried making any Vionnet designs?

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