October 18, 2016 § 4 Comments
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.
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.”
Comey was introduced to home sewers in the February/March 2010 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine with two patterns, Vogue 1161 and 1170:
The originals showcase Comey’s leopard and man-with-umbrella prints, both from the Fall 2009 collection.
Powerhouse Vogue 1247 includes an A-line miniskirt and the Navigator top, a design that was produced over multiple seasons (available in the shop):
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:
The dress was shown in a different print in the Spring 2011 collection:
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:
Vogue 1406, known as the Surveillance dress, has an asymmetrical neckline, back godet, and ruched waist detail:
Here’s the original star-print Surveillance dress on the Fall 2013 runway:
Comey’s batwing Wades dress is available as Vogue 1482. The diagonal front seam conceals a pocket:
From the same collection, Vogue 1507 includes the Bowtie top and slim pants with an asymmetrical front closure:
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:
The latest Rachel Comey pattern is a long-sleeved jumpsuit, Vogue 1523 (click to view in the shop):
The Botanical-print jumpsuit was part of the Fall 2015 collection’s closing look:
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…
August 28, 2016 § 2 Comments
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.
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.
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.
Jean Muir licensed patterns with Butterick’s Young Designers line into the early 1970s.
In early 1965, Butterick introduced Jean Muir of Jane & Jane with four designs in the Spring 1965 catalogue (click to enlarge):
This simple Jane & Jane dress is accented with two narrow tucks above the hemline:
The tucks on Butterick 3609 recall the single, broad hemline tuck on this Jane & Jane dress photographed by David Bailey in Kenya:
This mod, A-line dress is trimmed with buttons and topstitching (click to view in the shop):
The young Grace Coddington posed in the sleeveless version for British Vogue:
Previously seen in my Celia Hammond post, this Jane & Jane dress has a standing neckline, raglan sleeves, and Muir’s trademark tiny button trim:
Within a year of founding her own company, Muir saw her double-breasted ‘cavalier’ coat on the cover of British Vogue:
With its shoulder yokes and double-breasted front, Butterick 5242 is a similar design:
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:
The pattern envelope shows the dress with and without the low-slung belt carriers:
David Bailey photographed a similar Jean Muir belted jumper in green Harris tweed:
Previously seen in my Mad Men-era Butterick Young Designers post, Butterick 5657 is the kind of fluid jersey dress Muir became known for:
The design is from Muir’s Fall 1969 collection—photographed here in cloud grey jersey:
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):
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:
Jeanloup Sieff photographed a similar dress-and-knickers ensemble for an editorial in Nova magazine:
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:
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:
Next: Jean Muir’s Vogue Couturier patterns.
July 6, 2016 § 8 Comments
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.)
Vogue Patterns has been publishing Donna Karan patterns since 1987. The company added DKNY patterns in 1989.
The end of both licenses makes the Spring 2016 releases the last DKNY and Donna Karan patterns.
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…
May 29, 2016 § 4 Comments
There’s only one day left to see Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective, curated by André Leon Talley for the de Young Museum in San Francisco. (Show ends May 30, 2016). If you won’t be able to make it, an exhibition catalogue is available in three formats, including a floral print-bound limited edition. For more on the show see Maghan McDowell, “First Look: Five Decades of Oscar de la Renta.”
Oscar de la Renta (1932-2014) was born Óscar Aristides Ortiz de la Renta Fiallo in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the only boy in a family of seven. After moving to Spain to study art at Madrid’s Real Academía de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, in 1954 he began work as a sketcher at Balenciaga; by 1959 he was assisting Antonio del Castillo at Lanvin-Castillo in Paris.
In 1963 de la Renta moved to New York to pursue a career in ready-to-wear. He was soon hired as designer for Elizabeth Arden and, in 1965, became a partner at Jane Derby, the house he would take over for his own label. (For more see official site or The New York Times’ timeline.)
De la Renta licensed his designs with Vogue Patterns from the 1960s to the 2000s. This week, a look at Oscar de la Renta patterns from the ’60s to the ’80s.
Oscar de la Renta was among the designers included in Vogue-Butterick’s new Vogue Americana line, which was launched in 1967. From 1968, Vogue 1909 is a short-sleeved evening dress with standing collar and front-dart pockets:
This short evening dress has contrast bias cuffs and collar—flexible jewel trim optional:
Vogue 2219, an evening dress in two lengths, includes a wide, contrast cummerbund and pockets in the inverted side pleats:
Shown in a rich, metallic brocade, Vogue 2280 is a short, high-waisted evening dress accented with a jewel-trimmed belt (as seen in Vogue Pattern Book here):
A 1972 editorial by Helmut Newton shows Lauren Hutton in an early Oscar de la Renta caftan:
From 1973—the year of the ‘Battle of Versailles’ fashion show—this ruffled evening dress was shown in both solid colours and a floral border print:
Christie Brinkley models Vogue 1667, a blouse for two layers of sheer fabric and dirndl maxi skirt with deep hemline ruffle:
Peasant blouse-and-skirt ensemble Vogue 1776 was featured on this winter catalogue cover:
Vogue 1027’s caftan (previously seen in my caftans post) is featured in the San Francisco exhibit. The original is hand-painted silk crêpe de chine:
Vogue 1644 is a wrap-bodice dress with bias bands defining the waist:
These fashion photos by Steven Meisel and Patrick Demarchelier show how well de la Renta was suited to the Eighties aesthetic:
Here, radiating pleats and a bias front godet add volume and interest:
Don’t Vogue 2185’s ruffles take the cake?
January 19, 2016 § 4 Comments
Today is Byron Lars’ birthday. In lieu of cake, here’s a look at his work with Vogue Patterns.
Born in California, Byron Lars (b. 1965) studied at the Brooks Fashion Institute and New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology before dropping out to pursue freelance work; he was already an award-winning fashion illustrator when he launched his own label in 1991. His playful yet beautifully cut designs were an instant success—twists on American sportswear shown with cheeky accessories like duck-decoy purses. In a 1993 interview, Lars cites Patrick Kelly and Jean Paul Gaultier as inspirations for his approach. (See Greg Tate, “Byron Large.”)
In the mid-1990s, Vogue Patterns licensed a number of Byron Lars designs in the Vogue Attitudes line. Lars was introduced to readers in the July/August 1994 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine:
The first two patterns, Vogue 1419 and 1420, were modelled by Louise Vyent and photographed by Torkil Gudnason (click to enlarge):
Vogue 1419 is a pattern for a skirt, high-waisted pants, and a jacket with exposed zippers and Lars’ signature, waist-defining tie-front:
Vogue 1420 presents three versions of Lars’ take on the traditional men’s shirt:
Here the twist becomes an asymmetrical, pleated drape on a tailored dress:
From 1995, Vogue 1529 includes leggings and a flared shirtdress with bustline tie detail. The silhouette is similar to that seen in the Ruven Afanador photo that opens this post:
Vogue 1620 provides three more variations on the Byron Lars shirt:
Vogue 1621 includes two tie-front shirtdresses and a top for lightweight, dressier fabrics, as well as high-waisted pants:
In Vogue 1653, Lars pairs tapered pants with a fitted jacket with built-up neckline, exposed zippers, and dramatic back drape:
Vogue 1701’s fitted dress for stretch knits was photographed at the Strand’s Central Park kiosk. The pattern includes the contrast belt, which is angled to pass through the skirt’s front drape:
The jacket of this skirt suit has a surprise contrast back in synthetic suede or leather:
You may have seen Erica Bunker’s version of Vogue 1846. This shirt can be made as a wrap-front with optional contrast cuffs and collar, or with a contrast dirndl bodice:
Finally, two more fashion photos: the closing shot from Ruven Afanador’s Byron Lars portfolio in the premiere issue of Vibe magazine, and a runway image from Lars’ Fall 1994 collection.
By request of Clare Nightingale.
July 1, 2015 § 5 Comments
In celebration of Canada Day, this post is devoted to Canadian fashion designer Lida Baday.
Lida Baday (b. 1957) was born to a dressmaker mother in Hamilton, Ontario. A graduate of Ryerson’s fashion design program, she worked for different companies in Toronto’s garment district before founding her own label in 1987. (Read bios here and here; see tear sheets here.) Baday soon won international success with her sophisticated, minimalist designs in luxurious fabrics such as wool jersey. Although her company closed its doors last year, The Fabric Room, which sells its surplus textiles, is still open to the public.
In the 1990s, Lida Baday designs were available through McCall’s patterns, beginning with two patterns in the November 1992 catalogue. McCall’s 6255 and 6257 are patterns for a skirt suit and separates including a flared, hooded coat:
McCall’s 6855 is a pattern for a bolero and sleeveless sheath dress in two lengths. The longer version has a high slit with underlay:
McCall’s 8256 includes a long, double-breasted jacket, a short, cap-sleeved top, and wide-legged pants:
This 1997 design for an oversized shirt, pants, and cropped leggings for stretch knits could be new today:
McCall’s 8823 is ’90s-minimalist perfection with its fitted tunic with narrow straps, slim pants, and low-backed, sleeveless dress with mock back wrap:
McCall’s 9371 includes a sleek halter top for stretch knits and a short, wrap skort:
The long, stretch-knit dresses in McCall’s 9379 are both ’90s and classic:
Just for fun, here are some more Fashion magazine covers featuring designs by Lida Baday:
Happy Canada Day, everyone!
November 28, 2014 § 9 Comments
With her Fall 2014 collection, Donna Karan celebrated the 30th anniversary of her label. To mark this milestone, here’s a look at the earliest Donna Karan sewing patterns.
Donna Karan (b. 1948) was born Donna Faske in Queens, New York to parents in the fashion industry. She attended Parsons School of Design before beginning her career at Anne Klein. In 1984, after over fifteen years at Anne Klein, Karan left to launch her own label. Her first collection, Seven Easy Pieces, explored the concept of layering mix-and-match pieces over a ‘body’ (a snap-crotch bodysuit) and laid the foundation for her brand. (See a New York Times timeline here.)
Vogue Patterns’ licensing began two years after Seven Easy Pieces. Karan was introduced to readers in the September/October 1987 (or Autumn 1987) issue of Vogue Patterns magazine:
In an editorial photographed by Benoit Malphettes, Suzanne Lanza models the four new patterns for a Donna Karan wardrobe. The designs were from the current, Fall/Winter 1987-88 collection (see Bernadine Morris, “Beene and Karan Redefine Today’s Luxury” or watch a runway video on YouTube):
(Scans via Top Models of the World.)
Vogue 1958 is a bias coat and draped, long-sleeved dress:
Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Coat & Dress. Very loose-fitting, unlined, A-Line, bias coat, above mid-knee, has front extending into standing back neckline and long sleeves. No Provision for Above-Waist Adjustment. Tapered dress, above mid-knee, has draped neckline extending into collar and long sleeves, shoulder pads, front pleated and gathered waist, side front pockets, front zipper (skirt), underarm gusset and elasticized back waist (no seam).
A black, wool knit version of the Vogue 1958 dress is in the collection of the Museum at FIT, where it was featured in the 2008 exhibition Arbiters of Style: Women at the Forefront of Fashion:
Vogue 1960 is a double-breasted jacket with elasticized back detail. The design was also featured on the fall magazine cover shown above:
The envelope description reads: Misses’ Jacket. Loose-fitting, lined, below hip, double-breasted jacket has notched collar, shoulder pads, welt and buttonhole pockets, side back seams, elasticized, side back-button tab and long, two-piece sleeves with button vent. Purchased top.
Vogue 1961 may look like a set of tops, but it’s really two tops—one bias, the other for stretch knits—and a bodysuit:
Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Top and Bodysuit. Loose fitting top has long sleeves. A: wrap, bias, draped front extends to tucked back collar, attached to tie ends. B: mock front wrap, shoulder pads, tucked front extends into single layer tie ends (wrong side may show) and back zipper. Bodysuit has notched collar, dropped shoulders, shoulder pads, mock front band, yoke with forward shoulder seams, very loose fitting blouson bodice, back pleat, elastic (seamed) waist, and lower edge, snap crotch closing and long sleeves with placket, pleats and button cuffs. Purchased trim.
Vogue 1962 provides the bottoms shown on Vogue 1961: a high-waisted skirt and softly pleated skirt or pants:
The envelope description reads: Misses’ Skirt, Pants & Stole. Straight or tapered skirt (no side seams), above mid-knee or tapered pants have back zipper. No provision for shortening or lengthening for skirt B. A: bias front, no waistband, and side back seams. B: lined. Skirt B, Pants: front pleats, partially elasticized waistband and pockets. Single layer stole has narrow hem. Purchased top.
Just for fun, here’s a Patrick Demarchelier editorial photo of Paulina Porizkova in an ensemble from the Fall 1987 collection: