Free Designer Pattern: McQueen Dress

Akuac Thiep photographed by Nick Knight in Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 by Sarah Burton
Akuac Thiep in Alexander McQueen SS 2020 by Sarah Burton. Photo: Nick Knight. Image: SHOWstudio.

In memory of Paco Peralta.

SHOWstudio’s latest Design Download is an Alexander McQueen dress.

Back view: Akuac Thiep photographed by Nick Knight in Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 by Sarah Burton
Akuac Thiep in Alexander McQueen SS 2020 by Sarah Burton. Photo: Nick Knight. Image: SHOWstudio.

A current-season design, it was the opening look in Sarah Burton’s Spring 2020 collection for McQueen.

Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 by Sarah Burton
Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 by Sarah Burton. Model: Vilma Sjöberg. Image: Vogue Runway.
Detail, Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 by Sarah Burton
Detail, Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 by Sarah Burton. Image: Vogue Runway.
Vilma Sjöberg is fitted in the white beetled linen dress that opened the Alexander McQueen spring 2020 show.
Vilma Sjöberg is fitted in the white beetled linen dress that opened the Alexander McQueen spring 2020 show. Photo: Liam Leslie. Image: Alexander McQueen / Vogue.com.

This romantic collection drew comparisons with the couture, featuring reworked old patterns and past-season fabrics, as well as Irish linens, damask or beetled, fine wool suiting from the north of England, and hand embroidery worked by the entire McQueen studio.

“I love the idea of people having the time to make things together, the time to meet and talk together, the time to reconnect to the world.” – Sarah Burton

The dress re-envisions its show-opening counterpart in Alexander McQueen’s Eshu, named for the Yoruba trickster god and presented 20 years ago in a disused Hitchcock studio. (See Suzy Menkes, “London Crowns Its Fashion Kings,” and Savage Beauty.) As SHOWstudio notes, Burton’s “articulated puff-sleeve dress [is] a reimagining of the Autumn/Winter 2000 Eshu dress, originally crafted in calico with a focus on the silhouette.”

Alexander McQueen Fall 2000 - Eshu
Alexander McQueen Fall 2000 (Eshu). Image: Vogue Runway.

Steven Klein photographed Björk in a denim variation for Vogue’s September issue:

"A Brave New Björk," Vogue September issue 2000
Björk in a distressed denim dress from Eshu, Alexander McQueen FW 2000, Vogue, September 2000. Photo: Steven Klein. Editor: Phyllis Posnick. Image: bjork.fr.

In the same issue, the designer portfolio opens with a group portrait of McQueen and his team for Eshu, including model Liberty Ross, Isabella Blow, jeweller Shaun Leane, and the young Sarah Burton.

"How Many People Does It Take to Design a Dress?" Alexander McQueen and team, with Sarah Burton, near right, and Liberty Ross and Isabella Blow in looks from the Eshu collection, photographed by Annie Leibovitz. Vogue, September 2000
Alexander McQueen and team, with Sarah Burton at near right, Vogue, September 2000. Photo: Annie Leibovitz. Editor: Camilla Nickerson. Image: Vogue Archive.

Burton’s dress makes repeated appearances in the Spring 2020 campaign:

Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 ad campaign. Model: Felice Noordhoff. Photo: Jamie Hawkesworth. Art direction: M/M (Paris). Image: Alexander McQueen.
Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 ad campaign. Model: Vivien Solari. Photo: Jamie Hawkesworth. Art direction: M/M (Paris). Image: Alexander McQueen.

Also worn by Imaan Hammam in Masha Vasyukova’s campaign video (music by Isobel Waller-Bridge):

Update: The dress is part of 2020’s postponed Costume Institute show, About Time: Fashion and Duration, inspired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 150th anniversary.

Hamish Bowles, "Once Upon a Time In Fashion": c. 1895 The leg-of-mutton-sleeved shoulders match the width of the skirt’s hem on this silk dinner dress by Mrs. Arnold. 2020 Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton references the voluminous sleeve of the 19th century in this ivory linen dress with black topstitching detail.
Silk dinner dress by Mrs. Arnold, ca. 1895; linen dress by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, 2020, Vogue, May 2020. Photo: Annie Leibovitz. Editor: Grace Coddington. Image: Vogue.com.

The pattern download comes in A4 sheets, with a test line to check the scale.

Image: SHOWstudio.

Download the dress pattern (18 pieces)

Size: Sample size. Update: Model Akuac Thiep is wearing the sample size. She is 5’10” and wears a size 8/36. (34″ bust | 25″ waist | 35″ hip) Source: Nevs Models.

Notes: Prints on 220 A4 sheets.

Notions: Back zipper.

Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 campaign
Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 ad campaign. Model: Vivien Solari. Photo: Jamie Hawkesworth. Art direction: M/M (Paris). Image: Alexander McQueen.
With thanks to Emily Knight.

Biba: McCall’s Patterns

1970s Biba cover - 19 magazine, January 1971 photographed by David Tack
A Biba look on the cover of 19 magazine, January 1971. Photo: David Tack.

I started this blog eight years ago this month. To celebrate, here’s a look at some all-but-forgotten licensing: patterns by Barbara Hulanicki for Biba.

Ingrid Boulting wearing Tiger Lily dress by Biba at Lacock Abbey, British Vogue, July 1970. Photo: Norman Parkinson
Ingrid Boulting wears Biba’s Tiger Lily dress at Lacock Abbey, British Vogue, July 1970. Photo: Norman Parkinson. Image: Iconic Images.

Biba might be the biggest brand you’ll never see on a pattern. Born in Warsaw, Biba founder Barbara Hulanicki (b. 1936) grew up in Palestine and Brighton, where she attended Brighton Art School. She worked as a fashion illustrator before starting the Biba label with her husband, Stephen “Fitz” Fitz-Simon. Sometimes called the first lifestyle brand, Biba was a runaway success in Swinging London, selling everything from cosmetics to couture.

Biba designs for Seventeen - McCall's Pattern no. 2725
Biba design for Seventeen, Brighton Museum, 2013. Image: The cherry blossom girl.

In 1970, Hulanicki licensed patterns with McCall’s as a way to launch her brand in North America. The main promotion was in Seventeen Magazine, as it was Seventeen editor Rosemary McMurtry who first approached Hulanicki about the idea. Hulanicki mentions the McCall’s deal in her memoirs, as well as The Biba Years, 1963-1975, which she co-wrote with Martin Pel, curator of Brighton’s Biba and Beyond: Barbara Hulanicki.

Book cover for Barbara Hulanicki and Martin Pel's The Biba Years, 1963-1975 (V&A 2014)
Barbara Hulanicki and Martin Pel, The Biba Years, 1963-1975 (V&A 2014) Image: V&A.
Biba label - the Costume Institute
Image: Costume Institute.

Around New Year’s, 1971, Seventeen readers could peruse the new Biba patterns in a dreamy Sarah Moon editorial shot in Paris. Among the models was Ingrid Boulting, the face of Biba Cosmetics (another Sarah Moon project). As Hulanicki writes in her memoir, From A to Biba, the setting for the shoot was the round tower of Au Printemps, the storied Paris department store. The printed fabrics — cotton satin, rayon crepe, cotton voile, twill, and broadcloth — were all Tootal for Biba, and available at retailers like Macy’s in New York. (More at Sweet Jane. Seventeen scans courtesy of Musings from Marilyn.)

Sarah Moon's "Biba Boutique" McCall's editorial in Seventeen Magazine, Jan. 1971
“Biba Boutique,” Seventeen Magazine, January 1971. Photos: Sarah Moon. Images: Musings from Marilyn.
Sarah Moon's "Biba Boutique" McCall's editorial in Seventeen Magazine, Jan. 1971
“Biba Boutique,” Seventeen Magazine, January 1971. Photos: Sarah Moon. Images: Musings from Marilyn.
Sarah Moon's "Biba Boutique" McCall's editorial in Seventeen Magazine, Jan. 1971
“Biba Boutique,” Seventeen Magazine, January 1971. Photos: Sarah Moon. Images: Musings from Marilyn.

The patterns were even covered more than once in Women’s Wear Daily.

Robert Melendez Biba illustration in Women's Wear Daily, 1971
From “Viva Biba,” WWD, January 5, 1971. Illustration: Robert Melendez. Image: Shrimpton Couture.

The designs consisted of a top and skirt, separates and a hat, a long-sleeved dress and short-sleeved coatdress, and a midi or maxi dress, all in junior sizes only. Two included a matching choker. Customers could see the Biba logo in McCall’s retail catalogues, but the pattern envelopes give no indication they’re Biba designs.

1970s Biba pattern McCall's 2725
McCall’s 2725 by Biba (1971)
1970s Biba pattern McCall's 2728
McCall’s 2728 by Biba (1971)
1970s Biba pattern McCall's 2746
McCall’s 2746 by Biba (1971)
1970s Biba pattern McCall's 2747
McCall’s 2747 by Biba (1971)

McCall’s Pattern Fashions featured the Biba patterns in a four-page illustrated portfolio called “Seventeen Magazine Pattern Selections.” The write-up emphasizes Biba’s novelty in North America: Now Seventeen Magazine brings Biba to America … You, too, can be a Biba girl without crossing the Atlantic.

Seventeen Magazine Pattern Selections: Now Seventeen Magazine brings Biba to America in an exclusive group of McCall's patterns
Biba patterns in McCall’s Pattern Fashions, Spring 1971.
Seventeen Magazine Pattern Selections: You, too, can be a Biba girl without crossing the Atlantic
Biba patterns in McCall’s Pattern Fashions, Spring 1971.

Curiously, the Biba patterns aren’t in McCall’s back index, but one of them appears in this croquet-themed textiles ad — at left, in printed Dacron crepe:

McCall's Pattern Fashions Spring 1971 Klopman
Klopman advertisement in McCall’s Pattern Fashions, Spring 1971.

The peplum blouse with short “mushroom” sleeves (McCall’s 2725, view B) is very similar to a Biba evening suit seen in a 19 cover portfolio by David Tack. (Cover at top of post.) Like Seventeen, the British teen magazine also published its feature around the time of New Year’s, 1971.

Have you sewn any of the Biba patterns?

David Tack, Biba screen-printed satin evening suit in 19 magazine, January 1971
Biba screen-printed satin evening suit in 19 magazine, January 1971. Photo: David Tack. Image: Vintage-a-Peel.