Betsey Johnson: Butterick Patterns

August 10, 2017 § Leave a comment

Betsey Johnson sketch for Paraphernalia, 1965. Image: CFDA / Pinterest.

Betsey Johnson turns 75 today. Four decades on, the designer’s 1970s Butterick patterns are still very popular. Here’s a look at Johnson’s early work, with an emphasis on more seldom seen archival images.

Betsey Johnson (b. 1942) has made a career of creating irreverent, youth-oriented clothes that stand a bit outside the mainstream. She learned sewing and pattern drafting while running a dance school as a teen, but got her official start in the business designing for Youthquake boutique Paraphernalia. By 1970 she was the designer for Alley Cat, a junior sportswear label. (For more see Vogue.com and Anne-Marie Schiro, “Betsey Johnson: Honor for a Life of Celebrating Youth.”)

Dale Fahey, Birgitta, and Renée Roberts in Betsey Johnson neon satins (Golo sandals) photographed by Howell Conant, 1966

Models wear Betsey Johnson neon satin dresses in Piper’s Alley, Chicago. Life magazine, November 11, 1966. Photo: Howell Conant. Image: LIFE archive.

Juggler stands in front of Steel Pier's mystery ride and wears fancy-sleeved mini (Betsey Johnson, $34). Life magazine, May 24, 1968

Juggling in a Betsey Johnson mini dress in front of Steel Pier’s mystery ride, Atlantic City. Life magazine, May 24, 1968. Photo: Richard Davis. Image: LIFE archive.

In 1971, Johnson won a Coty Award for her work at Alley Cat (see the New York Times notice). The following year, Butterick launched its Betsey Johnson patterns in the Spring 1972 catalogue. The designs were also cross-promoted (along with Cyrus Clark cotton chintz) with a Barbara Bordnick editorial in Seventeen magazine.

Sunny Redmond in Butterick 6530 Betsey Johnson dress

Butterick 6530 by Betsey Johnson of Alley Cat, Butterick Home Catalog, Spring 1972. Model: Sunny Redmond.

1970s Betsey Johnson Butterick editorial "The Betsey Girl," photographed by Barbara Bornick

Butterick 6533 by Betsey Johnson in “The Betsey Girl,” Seventeen, January 1972. Photo: Barbara Bordnick. Image: Gold Country Girls.

Butterick 6530 by Betsey Johnson in Seventeen, January 1972. Photo: Barbara Bordnick. Image: Gold Country Girls.

1970s Butterick 6535 by Betsey Johnson photographed by Barbara Bordnick for Seventeen

Butterick 6535 by Betsey Johnson in Seventeen, January 1972. Photo: Barbara Bordnick. Image: Gold Country Girls.

Butterick 6532 by Betsey Johnson in Seventeen, January 1972. Photo: Barbara Bordnick. Image: Gold Country Girls.

The earliest of Johnson’s Butterick Young Designer patterns refer to her as Betsey Johnson of Alley Cat, and most seem to predate the founding of her company in 1978. Here’s Butterick 6979 on the cover of the March 1973 issue of Butterick’s news leaflet:

1970s Betsey Johnson Butterick 6979

Butterick 6979 by Betsey Johnson of Alley Cat, Butterick Fashion News, March 1973. Image: eBay.

The young Patti Hansen in Alley Cat:

pink Alley Cat by Betsey Johnson acetate/cotton velvet dress with two Red Cobra necklaces, pink Lurex and stone bracelets by P.C. Designs

Patti Hansen in Alley Cat by Betsey Johnson, Glamour, December 1973. Photo: Rico Puhlmann. Image: Getty.

One of the first items I sold on Etsy was this 1975 issue of Butterick Fashion News with a Betsey Johnson cover. (Click to see inside.) The same embroidered pinafore was featured on the home catalogue cover:

The Romantic Pinafore: Butterick 4090 by Betsey Johnson of Alley Cat, Butterick Fashion News, March 1975. Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Butterick 4090 by Betsey Johnson of Alley Cat, Butterick Home Catalog, Spring 1975

Butterick 4090 by Betsey Johnson of Alley Cat, Butterick Home Catalog, Spring 1975. Image: eBay.

The pinafore also appears in this cute advertisement with Butterick 4088:

Butterick 4090 and 4088 by Betsey Johnson, 1975

Butterick Betsey Johnson ad in Seventeen, February 1975. Image: Carmen and Ginger.

This Butterick ad shows three Betsey Johnson designs that came with transfers for DIY embellishment (dress Butterick 4679, knit tops Butterick 4676, and skirt/pants Butterick 4678):

Butterick 4676, 4678, 4679 by Betsey Johnson

Butterick ad for Betsey Johnson patterns in Seventeen, 1976. Image: Gold County Girls.

The Spring 1976 catalogue used illustrated photographs to present this DIY series, which also included a hat and shoes (1st page, Butterick 4680; 3rd page Butterick 4681, with Joyce Walker on the right):

Butterick 4680 by Betsey Johnson in the Butterick Home Catalog, Spring 1976

Butterick 4680 by Betsey Johnson, Butterick Home Catalog, Spring 1976.

1970s Betsey Johnson patterns in Butterick 4679, 4676, 4678; 4676, 4681

Betsey Johnson patterns in the Butterick Home Catalog, Spring 1976.

Another 1976 Butterick ad shows a Betsey Johnson jumper (Butterick 4956) with deep ribbon trim—perfect for a late-summer Cape Cod getaway:

Butterick ad for Betsey Johnson patterns in Seventeen, August 1976. Image: Pinterest.

Happy birthday, Betsey Johnson!

Cotton ad feat. Alley Cat by Betsey Johnson in Seventeen magazine, August 1973

Cotton ad featuring Alley Cat by Betsey Johnson in Seventeen, August 1973. Models: Sunny Redmond, Betsey Johnson. Image: FinnFemme.

With thanks to Heidi at Gold Country Girls.
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Fall 2017 Designer Highlights

August 7, 2017 § 4 Comments

Cynthia Rowley Resort 2016

Cynthia Rowley Resort 2016. Photo: William Eadon. Image: Vogue.com.

Have you seen the new Fall patterns? I post the designer photos to the @PatternVault Twitter. From now on, they’ll also have a more permanent home here on the blog.

(Speaking of Twitter, I’ve started posting non-fashion tweets to a new, personal account: @DrSarahSheehan.)

Simplicity’s latest Cynthia Rowley pattern came out after the Summer 2017 release and branded for the company’s 90th anniversary celebrations. The pintuck ruffle dress was seen in short and maxi lengths in Rowley’s Resort 2016 collection.

Cynthia Rowley pintuck ruffle dress pattern Simplicity 8414

Simplicity 8414 by Cynthia Rowley (2017) Pintuck ruffle dress. Image: Simplicity.

The setting for William Eadon’s photos might look familiar from The Royal Tenenbaums: the grand staircase of Brooklyn’s Grand Prospect Hall was the location where Margot went out for ice cream.

Cynthia Rowley Resort 2016. Photo: William Eadon

Cynthia Rowley Resort 2016. Photo: William Eadon. Image: Vogue.com.

Vogue’s new Guy Laroche pattern is an off-the-shoulder dress from the Spring 2016 collection, Adam Andrascik’s second for the house.

Vogue 1559 by Adam Andrascik for Guy Laroche

Vogue 1559 by Adam Andrascik for Guy Laroche (2017) Image: McCall’s.

Looks 9 and 15 Guy Laroche Spring 2016 collection

Guy Laroche Spring 2016 collection. Photos: Yannis Vlamos. Images: Vogue.com.

For a biker look—an Andrascik trademark—try it in leather with chain accents:

Look 30, 32 Guy Laroche Spring 2016 collection

Guy Laroche Spring 2016 collection. Photos: Yannis Vlamos. Images: Vogue.com.

Or cut off below the waistband to make a jacket:

Look 23 Guy Laroche Spring 2016 collection

Guy Laroche Spring 2016 collection. Photo: Yannis Vlamos. Image: Vogue.com.

Rachel Comey fans are spoiled for choice with three new Rachel Comey patterns. Vogue’s Fall lookbook cover shows Comey’s Karloff coat in Pre-Fall 2016’s floral brocade. One of the coat’s earliest incarnations was in buffalo plaid with camel contrast:

Rachel Comey's Karloff coat (V1563), Vogue Patterns lookbook, Fall 2017

Rachel Comey’s Karloff coat (V1563), Vogue Patterns lookbook, Fall 2017. Image: Issuu.

Vogue 1563 by Rachel Comey (2017) Karloff coat

Vogue 1563 by Rachel Comey (2017) Karloff coat. Image: McCall’s.

Rachel Comey's Karloff coat, Fall 2014 collection

Rachel Comey’s Karloff coat, Fall 2014 collection. Photo: Gus Powell. Image: Vogue.com.

Two of the Comey patterns are from the Fall 2016 collection—which will be familiar to those of you who follow Anne at Pretty Grievances.

V1556 is a raw-hemmed, sleeveless dress shown worn as a jumper. With sleeves it becomes the Cumberland dress.

Vogue 1556 by Rachel Comey (2017) Sleeveless dress and belt

Vogue 1556 by Rachel Comey (2017) Sleeveless dress and belt. Image: McCall’s.

Rachel Comey Fall 2016

Rachel Comey Fall 2016. Image: Vogue.com.

Rachel Comey's Cumberland dress (Pre-Fall 2016)

Rachel Comey’s Cumberland dress (Pre-Fall 2016) via The Frankie Shop. Image: Instagram.

The pleated, bishop-sleeved Bartram dress is pure sewist bait in silk jersey.

Vogue 1558 by Rachel Comey (2017) Bartram dress

Vogue 1558 by Rachel Comey (2017) Bartram dress. Image: McCall’s.

V1558 by Rachel Comey on the cover of Vogue Patterns, October/November 2017, and Sew Today, October 2017

V1558 by Rachel Comey on the cover of Vogue Patterns, October/November 2017, and Sew Today, October 2017. Images: McCall’s, sewdirect.

look 27 Rachel Comey Fall 2016

Rachel Comey Fall 2016. Image: Vogue.com.

Rachel Comey's Bartram dress, Fall 2016

Rachel Comey’s Bartram dress, Fall 2016. Image: Instagram.

Update on shopping local: Thanks to everyone who’s provided me with updated information about designer royalties from pattern sales. Since publishing this post, I’ve learned that Simplicity pays royalties to all licensed designers, including on web sales.

For other brands: if you would like to know whether royalties are being paid for online sales of designer patterns, you could contact the companies directly for more information.

Dress by Adam Andrascik for Guy Laroche photographed by Greg Lotus for Vogue Italia, May 2016

Guy Laroche dress (V1559) in Vogue Italia Suggestions, May 2016. Photo: Greg Lotus. Editor: Valentina Serra. Image: The Fashion Spot.

The World of Anna Sui

May 30, 2017 § 1 Comment

Tim Blanks, The World of Anna Sui (Abrams, 2017)

Tim Blanks, The World of Anna Sui (Abrams, 2017). Image: Abrams.

The World of Anna Sui opened at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London last weekend. It’s the museum’s first retrospective on a living American designer, with an accompanying book by Tim Blanks—out today from Abrams.

The World of Anna Sui, 26 May - 1 October 2017, London

Image: Joshua Jordan / Fashion and Textile Museum.

Anna Sui licensed her work with Vogue Patterns for some 16 years, from the mid-1990s to 2011. Read my series on Vogue patterns by Anna Sui:

1990s Anna Sui dress pattern V1619 on the cover of Vogue Patterns catalogue, September 1995

Vogue Patterns introduces Anna Sui for Vogue Attitudes: Vogue Patterns catalogue, September 1995. Image: eBay.

I’ve just listed this pattern for two dresses from Sui’s Mudd Club collection:

2000s Anna Sui stretch knit dress pattern Vogue 2551

Vogue 2551 by Anna Sui (2001) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

For more on Sui and her work, see Tim Blanks’ essay for the Business of Fashion, “Anna Sui, America’s Most Underrated Fashion Designer.”

Anna Sui coat in Peter Lindbergh Factory-themed shoot for Bazaar, 1995

Faux Mongolian lamb coat by Anna Sui, Harper’s Bazaar, August 1995. Photo: Peter Lindbergh.

Kirsty Hume in Anna Sui, with Donovan Leitch, photographed by Arthur Elgort for "Seasoned Simplicity," 1995

Kirsty Hume wears Anna Sui in Vogue, September 1995. Photo: Arthur Elgort. Editor: Grace Coddington.

Karen Elson in Anna Sui, photographed by Tim Walker for "Under the Boardwalk," 2003

Karen Elson in Anna Sui, Vogue, June 2003. Photo: Tim Walker. Editor: Grace Coddington. Image: Vogue.com.

Mei Xiao Zhou for Guy Laroche: Vogue Patterns

March 14, 2017 § 6 Comments

Guy Laroche advertising campaign, Fall 2001

Guy Laroche advertising campaign, Fall 2001.

Word is Guy Laroche patterns are set to return after a two-year hiatus. (The last Laroche, and last Paris Original, to be released was V1450 in Summer, 2015.) In anticipation, my ongoing Laroche series resumes with a look at the early 2000s designs of Mei Xiao Zhou.

Born in the Netherlands, Mei Xiao Zhou came to a career in fashion after working as a ballet dancer and video director in New York and Tokyo. He spent six years as an assistant to Thierry Mugler before he was hired as head designer at Guy Laroche. (See WWD, “Guy Laroche Taps Zhou.”)

Zhou designed two collections for Laroche, both presented in 2001.

1. Guy Laroche Prêt-à-porter Fall/Winter 2001 (shown March 2001)

Mei Xiao Zhou’s first collection for Laroche radiated energy, with vibrant colour and prints underlining the skillful cut. (See WWD, “Static State, Forties-Something, and the ‘Casino’ Factor.”) Here’s the collection image from L’Officiel 1000 modèles:

Guy Laroche Fall 2001 collection by Mei Xiao Zhou

Guy Laroche Fall 2001 collection by Mei Xiao Zhou in L’Officiel 1000 modèles. Image: jalougallery.com.

The hardest to find of Zhou’s Laroche patterns, Vogue 2650 is a bias-cut, halter-neck wrap dress that can be made in cocktail and evening length (both size ranges available in the shop):

Fall 2001 Mei Xiao Zhou for Guy Laroche bias dress pattern Vogue 2650

Vogue 2650 by Mei Xiao Zhou for Guy Laroche (2002) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Vogue 2650 by Mei Ziao Zhou for Guy Laroche - two runway versions

Guy Laroche Fall 2001 runway. Images: firstVIEW.

Vogue 2668’s trouser suit includes a short jacket with three-quarter sleeves. On the runway, the revers on the red version revealed a flash of sequins:

Fall 2001 Mei Xiao Zhou for Guy Laroche pantsuit pattern Vogue 2668

Vogue 2668 by Mei Xiao Zhou for Guy Laroche (2002) Image: Etsy.

Vogue 2668 - white and red versions on the Guy Laroche Fall 2001 runway

Guy Laroche Fall 2001 runway. Images: firstVIEW.

Vogue 2689 is a sleek skirt suit with concealed closure and clavicle-framing standing collar. The skirt has a zippered side slit:

Fall 2001 Mei Xiao Zhou for Guy Laroche skirt suit pattern Vogue 2689

Vogue 2689 by Mei Xiao Zhou for Guy Laroche (2002) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Vogue 2689 - two versions on the Guy Laroche Fall 2001 runway

Guy Laroche Fall 2001 runway. Images: firstVIEW.

L’Officiel included one of Zhou’s op-art print pieces in the Sixties-inspired editorial “Mille neuf cent soixante-trois“:

Mariacarla Boscono in Guy Laroche by Mei Xiao Zhou photographed by Nicolas Hidiroglou, 2001

Guy Laroche, L’Officiel, October 2001. Model: Mariacarla Boscono. Photo: Nicolas Hidiroglou. Editor: Jennifer Eymère. Image: jalougallery.com.

2. Guy Laroche Prêt-à-porter Spring/Summer 2002 (shown October 2001)

For his romantic second collection for Laroche, Zhou covered the runway in water, sending out looks with an Asian influence in a palette of white, yellow, ochre, chocolate brown, and black. (See L’Officiel 1000 modèles and AP, “Louis Vuitton Show Goes Creative.”) Here’s the collection image:

Guy Laroche Spring 2002 collection by Mei Xiao Zhou

Guy Laroche Spring 2002 collection by Mei Xiao Zhou in L’Officiel 1000 modèles. Image: jalougallery.com.

Raquel Zimmerman in an all-white look from Mei Xiao Zhou's Spring 2002 collection for Guy Laroche

A look from Mei Xiao Zhou’s Spring 2002 collection for Guy Laroche. Model: Raquel Zimmerman. Image: livingly.

The Spring 2002 campaign echoed the runway’s aquatic motif:

A backless dress in Guy Laroche advertising campaign, Spring 2002

Guy Laroche advertising campaign, Spring 2002.

Because this collection is not well documented online, it’s difficult to identify corresponding sewing patterns. Vogue 2752 looks to be one of the canary yellow suits, with flared kimono sleeves and rounded lapels that match descriptions of the show:

Vogue 2752 by Mei Xiao Zhou for Guy Laroche

Vogue 2752 by Mei Xiao Zhou for Guy Laroche (2002) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Although I can’t confirm it, Vogue 2736 may also be a Spring 2002 design. The jacket has a bustier-effect bias inset, and the pants have high slits in the back seams:

2000s Guy Laroche pinstriped pantsuit pattern Vogue 2736

Vogue 2736 by Guy Laroche (2003) Image: Etsy.

Mei Xiao Zhou brought the verve of Mugler to his runway shows for Laroche. Although his first collection was well received, the house was sold to a new parent company, which hired a new designer for Fall 2002 (Laetitia Hecht). Like other designer patterns of this period, Zhou’s Laroche patterns highlight the widening gulf between catwalk and sewing-editorial styling—which is ultimately the gulf between the fashion and home sewing industries.

Previous Laroche posts:

Rachel Comey: Vogue Patterns

October 18, 2016 § 5 Comments

Rachel Comey's Bowtie poplin top and Expedition printed pants (Vogue 1507), Spring 2015

Rachel Comey’s Bowtie top and Expedition printed trousers, Spring 2015 collection. Image: Instagram.

Last month, Rachel Comey celebrated her label’s 15-year anniversary with an outdoor presentation of unisex looks for Spring 2017. For home sewers, Comey’s ongoing licensing with Vogue Patterns has made her one to watch. Here’s a look at highlights of her patterns so far.

Dan Stevens in Rachel Comey's Pierrot dress, Pre-Fall 2013 - "Rachel" s1 e14

Dan Stevens in Rachel Comey’s Pierrot dress, High Maintenance, Season 1 (2014) Image: Instagram.

Born in Manchester, Connecticut, Rachel Comey (b. 1973) originally trained as a sculptor. After moving to New York, she consulted for Theory while designing clothes for local performers like Gogol Bordello—a connection that led her and the band to the Whitney Biennial. She launched her menswear collection in September, 2001, followed by women’s wear in 2004. Comey has developed a cult following for her footwear, prints, and general “bullshit-free kookiness.”

Courtney Love photographed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino in a men's lipstick print shirt by Rachel Comey

Courtney Love wears a men’s lipstick print shirt by Rachel Comey, The Face, April 2002. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Mondino. Image: eBay.

Ceramics-inspired Rachel Comey Stoneware print

Rachel Comey’s Stoneware print, inspired by Lena Beug’s ceramics. Image: Instagram.

Comey was introduced to home sewers in the February/March 2010 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine with two patterns, Vogue 1161 and 1170:

Rachel Comey article with V1161, Vogue Patterns, February/March 2010.

“Cutting edge: Rachel Comey,” Vogue Patterns, February/March 2010.

Rachel Comey article with V1170, Vogue Patterns, February/March 2010.

Vogue 1170 by Rachel Comey, Vogue Patterns, February/March 2010.

The originals showcase Comey’s leopard and man-with-umbrella prints, both from the Fall 2009 collection.

Leopard-print dress from Rachel Comey's Fall 2009 collection, as worn by Timoxa Timoschenko

A leopard-print dress from Rachel Comey’s Fall 2009 collection. Model: Timoxa Timoschenko. Image: vogue.com.

Powerhouse Vogue 1247 includes an A-line miniskirt and the Navigator top, a design that was produced over multiple seasons (available in the shop):

Rachel Comey Navigator top and skirt pattern Vogue 1247

Vogue 1247 by Rachel Comey (2011) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Vogue 1298 is a pattern for Comey’s Tippet dress. (She also designed an open-backed Tippet top.) The Tippet is an apron dress with raised hem and straps drawn together in back:

Tippet apron dress pattern by Rachel Comey, Vogue 1298

Vogue 1298 by Rachel Comey (2012) Tippet dress.

The dress was shown in a different print in the Spring 2011 collection:

Mariana Santana wears Rachel Comey's Tippet dress on the Spring 2011 runway

Rachel Comey’s Tippet dress on the Spring 2011 runway. Model: Mariana Santana. Image: vogue.com.

Also from 2012, Vogue 1323 is a top and pants ensemble consisting of the Syndicate blouse and cuffed Saunter pant. The trousers were also produced in textured velvet and various prints:

Rachel Comey top and pants pattern Vogue 1323

Vogue 1323 by Rachel Comey (2012) Image: Etsy.

Alexandra Tretter in Rachel Comey Saunter pant, Fall 2011

Rachel Comey’s Saunter pant, Black Wood silk-wool print, Fall 2011 collection. Model: Alexandra Tretter. Image: vogue.com.

Bianca Luz in Rachel Comey's Saunter pant, Fall 2011

Rachel Comey’s Saunter pant in semi-sheer, textured velvet, Fall 2011 collection. Model: Bianca Luz. Image: vogue.com.

Vogue 1406, known as the Surveillance dress, has an asymmetrical neckline, back godet, and ruched waist detail:

Rachel Comey Surveillance dress pattern Vogue 1406

Vogue 1406 by Rachel Comey (2014) Image: eBay.

Here’s the original star-print Surveillance dress on the Fall 2013 runway:

Rachel Comey's star-print Surveillance dress, Fall 2013

Rachel Comey’s Surveillance dress, Fall 2013 collection. Image: vogue.com

Comey’s batwing Wades dress is available as Vogue 1482. The diagonal front seam conceals a pocket:

Rachel Comey Wades dress pattern Vogue 1482

Vogue 1482 by Rachel Comey (2016) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Rachel Comey's Wades dress, Spring 2015

Rachel Comey’s Wades dress, Spring 2015 collection. Image: vogue.com.

From the same collection, Vogue 1507 includes the Bowtie top and slim Expedition pants with an asymmetrical front closure:

Rachel Comey Bowtie top and Expedition pants pattern Vogue 1507

Vogue 1507 by Rachel Comey (2015) Image: Etsy.

Rachel Comey's Bowtie top and pants, Spring 2015

Rachel Comey’s Bowtie top and Expedition pants, Spring 2015 collection. Image: vogue.com.

Vogue 1501 is a pattern for the Delane dress, a sleeveless, mock two-piece dress with pleating details. The original shows off Comey’s Collage print; the design was also produced with a contrast front bodice and in a single, solid colour:

Rachel Comey's Delane dress pattern Vogue 1501

Vogue 1501 by Rachel Comey (2016) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Rachel Comey's Delane dress in solid navy

Navy Delane dress by Rachel Comey.

The latest Rachel Comey pattern is the long-sleeved Silt jumpsuit, Vogue 1523 (click to view in the shop):

Rachel Comey Silt jumpsuit pattern Vogue 1523

Vogue 1523 by Rachel Comey (2016) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

The Botanical-print Silt jumpsuit was part of the Fall 2015 collection’s closing look:

Rachel Comey jacket and Botanical print jumpsuit, Fall 2015

Rachel Comey Silt jumpsuit, Fall 2015 collection. Image: vogue.com.

Interestingly, Comey was quoted in the New York Times’ recent article on the McCall Pattern Company (“Needle, Thread, Instagram“):

The New York designer Rachel Comey has licensed her patterns to McCall since 2010, where they appear under the Vogue Patterns brand. She didn’t do it for the money. “I just like the tradition of it,” Ms. Comey said. “Sewing is a great craft. It’s exciting and confidence building. I wanted to support it.”

Now if only we could source those Rachel Comey prints…

Artist and activist Sarah Sophie Flicker at the White House in Rachel Comey's Surveillance dress

Artist and activist Sarah Sophie Flicker wears Rachel Comey’s Surveillance dress at the White House, 2015. Image: Instagram.

Jean Muir: Butterick Patterns

August 28, 2016 § 2 Comments

Jean Muir for Jane & Jane, Butterick Home Catalog, Spring 1965.

Jean Muir for Jane & Jane, Butterick Home Catalog, Spring 1965.

This summer, after extensive renovations, the National Museum of Scotland opened its new galleries, including a Fashion and Style gallery. Jean Muir’s archive is housed in the museum, so the new gallery returns this important collection of her work to public view. To celebrate, I’ll be posting a two-part series on Jean Muir sewing patterns.

ARCHIVE - Personal Lecture Slides from the Jean Muir Collection

Box with slides from the Jean Muir Collection. Image: National Museum of Scotland.

Though born in London, Jean Muir (1928-1995) is often called “the Scottish Chanel.” Muir began her career working at Liberty London. She was the designer for Jaeger before winning backing for her first label, Jane & Jane, in the early 1960s; she also designed for Morel London. In the fall of 1966 she founded her own company, Jean Muir Ltd. Acclaimed for her precise cut in jersey, leather, and suede, she preferred to be called a dressmaker.

Jaeger advertisement illustrated by René Gruau, 1957

Jaeger advertisement illustrated by René Gruau, 1957. Image: Jaeger.co.uk.

Muir and her designs are featured in Life magazine’s 1963 portfolio (headlined “Brash New Breed of British Designers”) on what was then called the Chelsea Look.

Jane & Jane "granny" dress photographed by Norman Parkinson at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, 1963

Jane & Jane “granny” dress at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, Life magazine, October 18, 1963. Photo: Norman Parkinson. Image: Google books.

Jean Muir licensed patterns with Butterick’s Young Designers line into the early 1970s.

1960s

In early 1965, Butterick introduced Jean Muir of Jane & Jane with four designs in the Spring 1965 catalogue (click to enlarge):

1960s photo of Jean Muir and her new Butterick patterns (nos. 3493 and 3492)

“From London: Designs by Jane & Jane,” Butterick Home Catalog, Spring 1965.

1960s Jean Muir Jane & Jane patterns Butterick 3495 and 3494

Butterick 3495 and 3494 by Jean Muir for Jane & Jane, Butterick Home Catalog, Spring 1965.

This simple Jane & Jane dress is accented with two narrow tucks above the hemline:

1960s Jane & Jane dress pattern by Jean Muir, Butterick 3609

Butterick 3609 by Jean Muir of Jane & Jane (ca. 1965) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

The tucks on Butterick 3609 recall the single, broad hemline tuck on this Jane & Jane dress photographed by David Bailey in Kenya:

Jane & Jane wool dress by Jean Muir (Dolores hat; Ascher scarf) photographed in Kenya by David Bailey

Jane & Jane wool dress with secretary bird, British Vogue, February 1965. Photo: David Bailey. Model: Sue Murray. Image: Youthquakers.

This mod, A-line dress is trimmed with buttons and topstitching (click to view in the shop):

1960s Jean Muir of Jane & Jane dress pattern Butterick 3722

Butterick 3722 by Jean Muir of Jane & Jane (ca. 1965) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

The young Grace Coddington posed in the sleeveless version for British Vogue:

Grace Coddington wears a Jane & Jane dress by Jean Muir in British Vogue, 1965

Jane & Jane dress in British Vogue, March 15, 1965. Photo: Eugene Vernier. Model: Grace Coddington. Image: Youthquakers.

Previously seen in my Celia Hammond post, this Jane & Jane dress has a standing neckline, raglan sleeves, and Muir’s trademark tiny button trim:

1960s Jean Muir Jane & Jane pattern feat. Celia Hammond, Butterick 4153

Butterick 4153 by Jean Muir of Jane & Jane (ca. 1966) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Within a year of founding her own company, Muir saw her double-breasted ‘cavalier’ coat on the cover of British Vogue:

Jean Shrimpton wears a Jean Muir coat on the cover of British Vogue, 1967 - Ph. David Bailey

Coat by Jean Muir, British Vogue, August 1967. Photo: David Bailey. Model: Jean Shrimpton. Image: Youthquakers.

"Cover: New brilliance, new romantic accessories, new cavalier look." Jean Shrimpton photographed by David Bailey for the cover of British Vogue August 1967

Burnished orange and navy blue striped cavalier coat in Garigue wool by Jean Muir, British Vogue, August 1967. Photo: David Bailey. Model: Jean Shrimpton. Image: Youthquakers.

With its shoulder yokes and double-breasted front, Butterick 5242 is a similar design:

1960s Jean Muir coat pattern Butterick 5242

Butterick 5242 by Jean Muir (ca. 1969) Image: Serendipity Vintage.

Muir’s signature topstitching and shoulder yokes define the details on Butterick 4937, a sleeveless dress illustrated on the cover of the August 1968 news leaflet:

1960s Jean Muir dress pattern Butterick 4937 - Butterick Fashion News illustration

Butterick 4937 by Jean Muir on the cover of Butterick Fashion News, August 1968. Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The pattern envelope shows the dress with and without the low-slung belt carriers:

1960s Jean Muir dress pattern Butterick 4937

Butterick 4937 by Jean Muir (ca. 1968) Image: Etsy.

David Bailey photographed a similar Jean Muir belted jumper in green Harris tweed:

Sue Murray in a Jean Muir jumper, British Vogue, fall 1967 - Ph. David Bailey

Jean Muir jumper in British Vogue, October 15, 1967. Photo: David Bailey. Model: Sue Murray. Image: Youthquakers.

1970s

Previously seen in my Mad Men-era Butterick Young Designers post, Butterick 5657 is the kind of fluid jersey dress Muir became known for:

Late 1960s / early 1970s Jean Muir dress pattern Butterick 5657

Butterick 5657 by Jean Muir (ca. 1970)

The design is from Muir’s Fall 1969 collection—photographed here in cloud grey jersey:

Moyra Swan in a jersey minidress by Jean Muir, British Vogue, 1969

Jean Muir jersey dress, British Vogue, August 1969. Photo: David Montgomery. Model: Moyra Swan. Image: Youthquakers.

Butterick 5954 was shown in both mini and midi lengths; the recommended fabrics include jersey, knit, and synthetic knits. The contrast cuffs and bib front give the opportunity for colour blocking or print mixing as in the Liberty-style illustration (available in the shop):

1970 Jean Muir dress pattern Butterick 5954

Butterick 5954 by Jean Muir (ca. 1970) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

Before Butterick switched to illustrations only, there was a growing disparity in quality between pattern and editorial photography. Here it obscures the potential of Muir’s tucked and colour blocked peasant tunic:

1970s Jean Muir two-piece dress pattern Butterick 6222

Butterick 6222 by Jean Muir (ca. 1971)

Jeanloup Sieff photographed a similar dress-and-knickers ensemble for an editorial in Nova magazine:

Chiffon dress and knickers by Jean Muir, Nova, March 1972. Photo: Jeanloup Sieff. Editor: Caroline Baker. Image: Miss Peelpants.

The latest Jean Muir Young Designer pattern I’ve seen is Butterick 6398, a high-waisted dress with tiny self ruffles, button trim, and optional contrast sleeves and hemband:

1970s Jean Muir dress pattern Butterick 6398

Butterick 6398 by Jean Muir (ca. 1971)

I’ll close with this 1970 Norman Parkinson photo of a Jean Muir dress and turban in Monument Valley, in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery:

Norman Parkinson, Jan Ward in Jean Muir, 1970

Jean Muir dress, British Vogue, January 1971 (1970). Photo: Norman Parkinson. Model: Jan Ward. Image: the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Next: Jean Muir’s Vogue Couturier patterns.

Goodbye Donna Karan, Hello Urban Zen?

July 6, 2016 § 8 Comments

Ingrid Sischy, Donna Karan New York (Assouline 2005) Image via Pinterest.

Have you heard? Vogue’s Donna Karan and DKNY patterns will no longer be available after next Wednesday, July 13th. According to the McCall Pattern Company, the licensor of the Donna Karan trademarks [the LVMH-owned Gabrielle Studio Inc.] has decided to end all pattern licensing. (Source: Facebook.)

DonnaKaran_summer2016

Image: voguepatterns.com.

Vogue Patterns has been publishing Donna Karan patterns since 1987. The company added DKNY patterns in 1989.

Vogue Patterns magazine, Autumn 1987

Donna Karan patterns on the cover of Vogue Patterns magazine, Autumn 1987. Image via eBay.

DKNY patterns 2373, 2371, 2375, 2372, 2376 - Vogue Patterns catalogue, November 1989

DKNY patterns on the Vogue Patterns catalogue cover, November 1989. Image via eBay.

The end of both licenses makes the Spring 2016 releases the last DKNY and Donna Karan patterns.

A dress in DKNY Pre-Fall 2013 - Vogue American Designer 1488

Vogue 1488 by DKNY is based on a dress from the Pre-Fall 2013 collection. Image: vogue.com.

A dress from Donna Karan Spring 2014, the original for Vogue American Designer 1489 (2016)

The original for Vogue 1489 in Donna Karan’s Spring 2014 collection. Model: Kati Nescher. Image: vogue.com.

Donna Karan announced her departure from Donna Karan International just over a year ago, saying she means to focus on her new, privately owned company, Urban Zen. Parent company LVMH will not be hiring a replacement. Instead, LVMH will be developing DKNY, which is designed by Public School’s Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne. (See Vanessa Friedman and Jacob Bernstein, “Karan Leaving Brand That Carries Her Name.”)

After thirty years of Vogue patterns—closer to forty, if we count her work at Anne Klein—Karan’s absence will be keenly felt. But could she return soon with Urban Zen patterns? Under her agreement with LVMH, Urban Zen’s “distribution … [can]not compete with any of the Donna Karan brands.” (See Donna Fenn’s interview for Fortune.) This could account for the unprecedented end-date for the Donna Karan and DKNY patterns, just in time for the Fall 2016 pattern launch. Update (July 7): the Fall 2016 patterns were released today, too early to avoid a distribution conflict. Perhaps for Winter 2016?

It would certainly be in keeping with Karan’s ethos if July 14th marked not just an end to the old pattern licensing, but also a new beginning. As her program notes always read, To be continued

Urban Zen, Modern Souls collection

Urban Zen, Modern Souls collection. Image: Urban Zen.

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