You and Me and Rainbows

June 23, 2017 § 3 Comments

Early 1970s juniors/teens' bolero, skirt, and hip-hugger pants pattern Simplicity 9376

Simplicity 9376 (1971) Image: Etsy.

Happy Pride! This year you can celebrate all summer with 2017’s rainbow trend. (See Lauren Cochrane, “The rainbow’s not over – it’s the style symbol of the season.”) It’s a vintage motif with roots in the ’70s and ’80s.

The ’70s rainbow trend was well underway before Gilbert Baker created the rainbow flag in 1978. (Read MoMA’s interview.) The groovy teens’ pattern shown above came with rainbow appliqués. Maija Isola’s Sateenkaari (Rainbow) print for Marimekko appeared the same year as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon:

Maija Isola Sateenkaari fabric for Marimekko, 1973

Maija Isola Sateenkaari printed fabric for Marimekko, 1973. Image: Etsy.

As did this Time-Life sewing book entitled Shortcuts to Elegance:

Shortcuts to Elegance: The Art of Sewing

Shortcuts to Elegance: The Art of Sewing (1973) Image: Etsy.

From McCall’s Carefree line, this iron-on alphabet transfer pattern lets you spell whatever you like in rainbow caps:

1970s iron-on rainbow transfer alphabet McCall's 5567

McCall’s 5567 (1977) Set of full colour iron-on transfers.

Meredith Gladstone’s circa 1980 children’s décor pattern, “Cloud Room,” includes a rainbow pillowcase and rainbow-lined sleeping bag:

Early 1980s Meredith Gladstone children's decor pattern Vogue 2360

Vogue 2360 by Meredith Gladstone (ca. 1980) Cloud Room. Image: Etsy.

With the right print, home dressmakers could sew everything from rainbow dresses to coverups:

Early 1980s dress and bolero pattern Butterick 3767

Butterick 3767 (1981) Image: Etsy.

Early 1980s one-piece bathing suit and coverup pattern Butterick 3902

Butterick 3902 (1981) Image: Etsy.

For those making their own Cheer Bear Care Bear, Butterick’s envelope explained the rainbow’s significance as a “traditional symbol of hope,” as well as “a cheerful reminder that things are getting better and even bad times can bring something beautiful”:

1980s Care Bears pattern for Cheer Bear toy Butterick 6230 ©American Greetings Corporation

Butterick 6230 (1983) Cheer Bear. Image: Etsy.

1980s Cheer Bear pattern envelope back, Butterick 6230

Envelope back, Butterick 6230 (1983). Image: Etsy.

Hallmark’s Rainbow Brite licensing with McCall’s included a children’s costume, Rainbow Brite and Twink toys, and a set of mobiles.

Rainbow Brite costume with Rainbow Brite and Twink dolls - McCall's 9231, 9254, 9238 - McCall's Crafts patterns, 1984

Rainbow Brite patterns on the cover of McCall’s Crafts catalogue, ca. 1984.

1980s Rainbow Brite doll pattern McCall's Crafts 9238

With a Rainbow Brite doll—share in the power of the rainbow. McCall’s 9238 (1984) Image: Etsy.

1980s Rainbow Brite Twink doll pattern McCall's Crafts 9231

With a Twink doll—create some color of your own. McCall’s 9231 (1984) Image: Etsy.

1980s official Rainbow Brite costume pattern McCalls 9254

McCall’s 9254 (1984) Rainbow Brite costume. Image: ecrater.

1980s Rainbow Brite mobile pattern McCall's 9523 / 769

A rainbow for your own—McCall’s 9523 / 769 (1985) Image: Etsy.

Of course, there’s no need to find the perfect rainbow fabric. All it takes is the right array of colours…

Eugenia Volodina photographed by Steven Meisel in an Alexander McQueen dress from Irere, Vogue Italia, February 2003

Alexander McQueen dress (Irere, SS 2003), Vogue Italia supplement, February 2003. Photo: Steven Meisel. Model: Eugenia Volodina. Image: The Fashion Spot.

Our Man in Leather: Bobby Breslau for Vogue Patterns

June 18, 2017 § 1 Comment

Vogue 2184, 2153.

Bobby Breslau in Vogue Patterns, May/June 1979. Photo: Charles Tracy.

“Our Man in Leather”: Vogue Patterns introduced Bobby Breslau, one of the company’s rare designers of accessories, with a winking acknowledgement of the gay community.

Bobby Breslau designs the softest leather in the world. His BigPouch and family of Little Pouches sensualized the bag world, becoming classics in their own time! Soft, sensuous, supple and totally functional, with a size and design for every occasion.

Bobby Breslau biographical note, Vogue 2184 (1979). Image: Etsy.

Bobby Breslau (ca. 1943-1987) was a friend of Halston, Stephen Burrows, and Keith Haring; photographer Charles Tracy, who took Breslau’s portrait, was a member of the same social circle. Breslau’s training was in the garment industry, but a toy commission from Halston set him on the path of accessory and furniture design. His tactile, unstructured style of bag showed a sculptor’s eye for colour and texture; the New York Times called it “the handbag of the 1970’s.” (See Robin Givhan’s The Battle of Versailles and Suzanne Slesin, “Beyond the Fringe: A Designer’s Zany World in Leather.”) Breslau was the manager of Keith Haring’s Pop Shop until his death from complications of AIDS in early 1987.

Breslau bag in Halston: An American Original (1999)

Breslau bag for Halston in Elaine Gross and Fred Rottman, Halston: An American Original (1999) Image: Behind the Seams.

In 1979, Breslau licensed two bag patterns with Vogue. Each design could be made in three sizes. Vogue 2153 is a “draw-stringer and scarf tie-up”:

1970s Bobby Breslau handbag pattern Vogue 2153

Vogue 2153 by Bobby Breslau (1979) Image: Etsy.

Vogue 2184 is a saddlebag and roll pouch:

1970s Bobby Breslau handbag pattern Vogue 2184

Vogue 2184 by Bobby Breslau (1979) Image: Etsy.

Just as Breslau’s unconstructed bag is back, so too are the brights of ’79. As Hannah Marriott writes, a trend for Lego colours is predicted for spring 2019…

Vogue Patterns May Jun 1979

Model with Breslau bag, Vogue Patterns, May/June 1979.

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