Mad Men Era 5: The Europeans

Vicomte Willy Philippe Brenninkmeyer Rocci Justine Eyre The Jet Set Mad Men Season 2
Vicomte Willy (Philippe Brenninkmeyer) and Rocci (Justine Eyre) in “The Jet Set” (Mad Men, Season 2)

This week, four established European designers who were based in Spain and Italy: Rodriguez, Simonetta, Fabiani, and Pucci.

Rodríguez (1895-1990)

Born in Valencia, Pedro Rodríguez opened his first salon in Barcelona in 1918. During the Spanish Civil War he relocated to Paris, but returned to Spain when the war ended. Although little-known outside his country, he was Franco Spain’s most celebrated designer. Rodríguez’s drawings are the focus of an exhibition running until June 17th at Madrid’s Museo del Traje, “Pedro Rodríguez: Alta Costura sobre papel. Figurines de Pedro Rodríguez, 1940-1976.”

Vogue 1338 is a slim evening dress with a uniquely shaped bodice, high-waisted in front and dipping low in the back:

1960s Pedro Rodríguez evening dress and stole pattern - Vogue 1338
Vogue 1338 by Pedro Rodríguez (1964) Evening dress and stole. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Simonetta (1922-2011)

A member of the Italian aristocracy, Simonetta Colonna di Cesarò was born a duchesa and made her first marriage to a Visconti. She presented her first collection in 1946, in newly liberated Rome. During the early 1960s she and her second husband, Alberto Fabiani, combined their talents to form a Paris label, Simonetta et Fabiani. Simonetta was known for youthful, dramatic designs with an emphasis on form and cut.

Vogue 1231 is a glamorous yet simple design for a formal dress with attached circular cape. The asymmetrical fall of the cape gives it a neoclassical, military air:

Vogue 1231 1960s Simonetta pattern
Vogue 1231 by Simonetta (1963) Dress with attached cape. Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Fabiani (1910-1987)

Alberto Fabiani was born into a family of couturiers. He trained for a few years with an Italian tailor in Paris before returning to Italy, where he soon became head of the family couture house. As mentioned above, he formed a joint label with his second wife, Simonetta, before returning to his solo label. Fabiani was known for conservative, tailored designs with impeccable cut.

Vogue 1450 is a short evening dress with waistcoat detail and deep, slashed neckline revealing an underbodice. A narrow, self-corded belt ties in a bow at the raised front waistline, above a skirt shaped by soft pleats:

1960s Fabiani short evening dress pattern - Vogue 1450
Vogue 1450 by Fabiani (1965) Short evening dress.

Pucci (1914-1992)

The designer we know as Pucci was born Marchese Emilio Pucci di Barsento, to the aristocratic Florentine family based at the Palazzo Pucci. He obtained a doctorate from the University of Florence and also served as a pilot in the Italian Air Force before opening his first boutique in Capri in 1949. Pucci was famous for his youthful sports and resort wear in distinctive, colourful prints and new fabrics like lightweight silk jersey.

Vogue 1351 is a chic casual ensemble consisting of a boxy jacket, simple blouse, and tapered pants with optional stirrups. The model was photographed in Florence rather than Rome:

1960s Pucci jacket, blouse, and pants pattern - Vogue 1351
Vogue 1351 by Pucci (1964) Jacket, blouse, and pants. Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

I always find it interesting how the Vogue Couturier line drew attention to the designer’s nationality or the European city where they were based—Pucci of Italy, Rodríguez of Madrid—drawing attention to the not-Paris of emerging fashion centres in London and on the Continent. Although Rodríguez was somewhat isolated in Franco Spain, the Italian couturiers were designing for the international jet set.

Next: New Talent: Laroche, Galitzine, and Forquet.

Heat Wave! Vintage Beachwear Patterns

A wrapped and tied beach kimono
A wrapped and tied beach kimono. Reeves cotton printed by Cranston. Vogue Pattern Book, June/July 1961. Photo: Schiavone. Model: Jean Shrimpton?

It’s been a very hot summer here in Toronto. The Toronto Standard’s recent article on nearby Sunnyside Beach is a reminder of how Torontonians coped with high temperatures in the days before air conditioning. The stretch of Lake Ontario shoreline known as Sunnyside Beach was a popular bathing spot from the early 20th century on, and the beach’s popularity was given a boost with the opening of Sunnyside Amusement Park in 1922. The amusement park was mostly demolished in 1955 to make room for the Gardiner Expressway, but some of the original structures remain, including the boat house and dance hall Palais Royale and the Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion.

Toronto's Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion, archway detail
Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion, archway detail. Image courtesy of Alex Laney via Wikipedia Commons.

Vintage beachwear patterns open a similar window onto summers past. What women wore to the beach can seem to encapsulate an era, both because beachwear is an especially trend-driven category of women’s wear and because of the attitudes to the female body it often reveals. In this post you’ll find a selection of beachwear patterns from the 1930s to the 1980s.* Enjoy!

1930s

Here’s a late thirties Vogue pattern from the Commercial Pattern Archive (CoPA). Follow the image link for CoPA’s virtual exhibition on swimwear patterns.

1930s bathing suit pattern Vogue 8237
Vogue 8237 (1938) Bathing suit. Image: At the Pond, CoPA virtual exhibition.

The 1930s also saw a fashion for beach pajamas, lounge wear for days at the beach. This illustration from McCall’s magazine shows new patterns for beach fashions. The first pattern is for a kerchief top, dolman jacket and beach trousers, the second makes a gorgeous beach wrap:

Beachwear fashions in McCall's magazine, April 1932.
Beachwear fashions in McCall’s magazine, April 1932.
(You can see the accompanying text in this Etsy listing.) Here are a couple early ’30s McCall patterns for beach pajamas:
McCall 6945 (1932) Beach pajamas
McCall 6945 (1932) Beach pajamas. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.
McCall 7344 (1933) Sports or beach pajamas and cape
McCall 7344 (1933) Sports or beach pajamas and cape. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Simplicity’s promotional material calls this late ’30s halter design “a pajama ensemble for sun-tan fans.” (See linked wiki page for repro information.)

Simplicity 3081 (1939) Pajama ensemble
Simplicity 3081 (1939) Pajama ensemble. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

1940s

The forties saw the rise of two-piece bathing suits with pinup-style, high-waisted skirts or tap pants for the bottoms. Vogue 9046 is an early but typical ’40s swimsuit. (See linked wiki page for repro information.)

Vogue 9046 (c. 1941) Two-piece bathing suit
Vogue 9046 (c. 1941) Two-piece bathing suit. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This McCall design is for a cute tie-back, halter top style with pleated bottoms:

McCall 5648 (1944) Two-piece bathing suit
McCall 5648 (1944) Two-piece bathing suit. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

I found this transitional late ’40s pattern through Oodles and oodles’ series on the patterns of sisters Alice and Edna. It’s one of my favourites:

Vogue 6709 (1949) Bathing suit
Vogue 6709 (1949) Bathing suit. Image via Oodles and oodles.

1950s

Fifties beachwear shows the same silhouettes and details as the decade’s women’s wear. The cover-up in this mid-’50s pattern is basically a shorter version of a wasp-waisted, full-skirted fifties day dress (but check out the crazy tiki hat):

1950s bathing suit and cover-up pattern - Vogue 8883
Vogue 8883 (1956) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

In 1956 Emilio Pucci did a series of designs for McCall’s that included this skirted, strapless bathing suit:

McCall's 3977 by Emilio Pucci (1956)
McCall’s 3977 by Emilio Pucci (1956) Strapless bathing suit and shirred overskirt. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

(Wade Laboissonniere includes a McCall’s photo of the Pucci pattern in his Blueprints of Fashion: Home Sewing Patterns of the 1950s, p. 127.)

This sarong style of swimsuit carried over into the early ’60s:

Vogue 9749 (1959) Bathing suit and reversible beach coat
Vogue 9749 (1959) Bathing suit and reversible beach coat. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

1960s

Early sixties swimsuit patterns tend to be variations on the modest two-piece with shorts or boy-cut briefs. Here’s the pattern image for the early ’60s beach kimono pictured at the top of this post. The pattern also included a one- or two-piece bathing suit:

Vogue 5263 (1961) Beach kimono and bathing suits
Vogue 5263 (1961) Beach kimono and bathing suits. Image: eBay.

Vogue 6212 includes a babydoll beach dress and a hat similar to the one worn by Jessica Paré as Megan in Season 4 of Mad Men:

Vogue 6212 (1964) Two-piece swimsuit, beach dress and hat
Vogue 6212 (1964) Two-piece swimsuit, beach dress and hat. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Two-pieces seem to have made the decisive shift to bikinis in the later 1960s:

Vogue 6752 (c. 1966) Bikini and cover-up
Vogue 6752 (c. 1966) Bikini and cover-up. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

1970s

Seventies swimwear showed sleeker lines, still with a lower-cut leg. Maxi cover-ups came into fashion as the decade progressed. Here’s a fabulous early ’70s Vogue one-piece (with a ’60s-style hat and cover-up):

Vogue 7815 (1970) Bathing suit, cover-up and hat
Vogue 7815 (1970) Bathing suit, cover-up and hat. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

During the ’70s Vogue Patterns also released designer swimwear patterns by Catalina and Penfold (including Anne Klein for Penfold). The bikinis are actually pretty classic:

Vogue 1416 by Anne Klein for Penfold (1976) Swimsuit, bikini, cover-up and scarf
Vogue 1416 by Anne Klein for Penfold (1976) Swimsuit, bikini, cover-up and scarf. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.
Vogue 1655 by Penfold (1977) Swimsuit, bikini and cover-up
Vogue 1655 by Penfold (1977) Swimsuit, bikini and cover-up. Image: eBay.

1980s

Eighties swimwear had a new, higher-cut leg and favoured the high-contrast brights and prints typical of the decade. Oleg Cassini’s line of patterns for Simplicity included this one-piece swimsuit with pareo:

Simplicity 6884 by Oleg Cassini (1985) Swimsuit and wrap skirt
Simplicity 6884 by Oleg Cassini (1985) Swimsuit and wrap skirt. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Brooke Shields also licensed some designs with McCall’s, including a few swimwear patterns. Here’s the one that hits the most ’80s trends:

McCall's 9566 by Brooke Shields (1985) Bathing suit
McCall’s 9566 by Brooke Shields (1985) Bathing suit. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

And in case you needed instruction in swimwear sewing techniques, Vogue Patterns had a book for you:

Everything about Sewing Swimwear (1972)
Everything about Sewing Swimwear (1972). Image: eBay.

*For those interested in pre-1930s swimwear patterns, you can see a repro pattern for a 19th century bathing costume here; some early 20th century bathing suit patterns here and here; and some 1920s swimsuit patterns here and here.