This week, the second part of my series on commercial sewing patterns by Elsa Schiaparelli. (See Part 1 here.)
Schiaparelli was one of the eight couturiers who licensed designs for the first Vogue Paris Originals in 1949. Vogue’s first Schiaparelli pattern was a skirt suit with double pockets and one-sleeved blouse, Vogue 1051:
The suit was photographed in Paris by Clifford Coffin:
The photo that opens this post shows Vogue 1074, a Schiaparelli dress and shortcoat from Vogue’s fourth series of Paris Originals. The original coat was lined with astrakhan. (The suit on the right is Vogue 1076 by Jacques Heim.)
New Look curves characterize this Schiaparelli suit pattern from spring, 1950, which was photographed in Paris by Norman Parkinson. The short-sleeved jacket has rounded, stiffened hips, while the kimono-sleeved blouse buttons its curved fronts to one side. Vogue recommends making the blouse from the suit’s lining fabric:
Vogue 1133 is a vampy, short-sleeved dress with hip-enhancing pocket flaps and convertible collar at both front and back:
Arik Nepo’s photograph plays up the dress’ severity:
Vogue 1142 is a faux suit, an asymmetrical dress with a skirt front extension that creates the illusion of a jacket on one side. (Much like Galliano’s Givenchy jumpsuit, Vogue 1887.) The shaped projections of the big, rounded collar, skirt extension, and off-kilter double-breasted closure playfully destabilize the garment:
This Schiaparelli evening dress pattern, Vogue 1144, includes a petticoat and diaphanous kerchief. Look closely, and you can see that the oversized, decorative pockets extend almost the length of the skirt:
Here’s a closer look at Henry Clarke’s photo:
In 1952 Schiaparelli showed inverted heart necklines for spring; with its pointed, stand-away neckline and narrow shawl collar, Vogue 1179 allowed the home dressmaker to be right up to date. The cocktail dress closes with not one but two side zippers:
Vogue magazine showed an alternate photo by Robert Randall:
Frances McLaughlin photographed Bettina in Vogue 1198, a short evening dress with what Vogue called “a big pleated bandage—like an outside order ribbon” wrapping over one shoulder and around the waist. The original was made in black silk brocade:
Here’s a catalogue page for Vogue 1198, with illustration and alternate photo:
Vogue 1231 is a day dress with a single patch pocket and bloused bodice gathered to a dramatic convertible collar:
The dress was photographed in Paris by Robert Randall:
Finally, Vogue 1245 is a long evening dress with an attached stole that passes through the bodice front:
The stunning gown was photographed by Roger Prigent:
If you don’t have the budget for an original Schiaparelli pattern, a reproduction of the one-sleeved stole from Vogue 1068 is available from Decades of Style:
Have you heard? The house of Schiaparelli, founded by the legendary Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) and dormant since 1954, has been revived.
Last year Christian Lacroix presented a one-off couture collection for the house, and this week the new head designer, Marco Zanini, presented his first Schiaparelli collection at the Paris couture. (See the Spring 2014 collection on style.comVogue Runway, or read W’s coverage of Zanini’s appointment here.)
Many of you will be aware of Schiaparelli’s licensed sewing patterns, since she was among the first designers of Vogue Paris Originals. There were also Schiaparelli knitting patterns. If you knit, you can download a free pattern for Schiaparelli’s 1927 Bowknot sweater, updated by Lisa Stockebrand (Ravelry page here):
Like Vionnet, Schiaparelli also saw commercial sewing patterns for her designs in the interwar period, released by companies including the McCall Pattern Company, Pictorial Review, and the Paris Pattern Company. Here is a selection of early Schiaparelli patterns.
This McCall pattern is the earliest Schiaparelli pattern I’ve seen. Dating to the autumn of 1929, it’s a pattern for a blouse, skirt, and coat with angled pockets. It was still shown in a 1930 catalogue:
Here is the illustration of McCall 5839 in McCall’s magazine:
This Schiaparelli pattern from the Paris Pattern Company has some unusual details. The wrap skirt buttons diagonally across the hips and has two slits through which the blouse’s attached scarf can pass, for a suspender effect:
McCall 6981 is a three-piece suit consisting of a jacket, cropped pussy-bow blouse, and sleeveless, bias dress:
Here’s an illustration of this design (centre, no. 14) in the summer 1932 issue of McCall Fashion Bi-Monthly. Elsewhere it calls McCall 6981 a “trick” ensemble, since the blouse and jacket disguise a dress suitable for tennis:
This Benito illustration for Vogue shows a similar Schiaparelli ensemble, worn with a tomato red Sicilian cap:
This Pictorial Review Schiaparelli adaptation dates to late 1933. The dress has interesting details like shoulder flanges, diagonal waist darts, and inverted darts radiating from the neckline:
Here’s the catalogue illustration for Pictorial Review 6764:
Paris Pattern 2286, illustrated in my 1934 Paris and Style Patterns booklet, is a jaunty ensemble consisting of a coat, skirt, and jacket blouse. The description reads, “A superb town and country suit. Just the thing for that week end vacation. Top coat can be worn over any dress. The skirt and jacket blouse make an ideal spectator costume”:
Also in this leaflet is the Schiaparelli dress and capelet ensemble available as a reproduction from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library. The dress has shoulder yokes, puffed sleeves, and a skirt with pointed set-in panels and pair of buttons at the waist; the matching capelet is trimmed with pleating and buttons to the skirt front. Thanks to owner Deirdre Duggan for providing a scan of the envelope:
Finally, from McCall’s, this Schiaparelli dinner dress in two lengths dates to winter 1936-37. The bodice back extends into sleeves that are gathered into a heart-shaped bodice:
The pattern is illustrated in the January 1937 issue of McCall’s magazine, which made much of the new, street-length hemline:
Schiaparelli patterns from between the wars tend to lack the surrealist touches we associate with the designer, since many of these were based on couture embellishment, accessories, or notions. (Cricket buttons, anyone?) I remember reading a contemporary 1930s article that said Schiaparelli pieces were so simple, they were too easy to copy. Today one might say it’s her brand of dynamic severity that makes her clothes seem so modern.
This month the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, announced that the Spring 2012 Costume Institute exhibition will focus on Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada. The show, entitled Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada: On Fashion, will run from May 10 to August 19, 2012. (Read the press release here.) The twin focus on these two intellectual designers should make for a very stimulating exhibit.
If you can’t wait for your Schiaparelli fix, the designer’s work will soon be on view in Madonna’s film “W.E.”, whose parallel narratives tell the stories of Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough) and a wealthy New Yorker (Abbie Cornish) who becomes fascinated with the late Duchess of Windsor after seeing her luxurious couture wardrobe and jewels at Sotheby’s.
Wallis Simpson was a couture client even before her marriage to the Duke of Windsor. She ordered eighteen pieces from Schiaparelli’s Summer 1937 collection for her marriage trousseau and was even photographed by Cecil Beaton in the famous lobster dress designed by Schiaparelli in collaboration with Salvador Dalí. Costume designer Arianne Phillips (The Crow, Tank Girl, A Single Man) was able to study the Vionnet and Schiaparelli archives in order to recreate Wallis Simpson’s wardrobe for the film. Vanity Fair ran a “W.E.” photo shoot in their September issue; one photo shows ‘Wallis’ in a 1930s ensemble by Schiaparelli:
(See the full Vanity Fair gallery here.) Riseborough’s ensemble is based on a 1937 jacket and gown of jersey with leather scrolls; you may be familiar with the Cecil Beaton photograph. (See the original and the Beaton photograph here.)
The current issue of W magazine has a short feature on “W.E.” with Arianne Phillips’ photos and notes on her costume work for the film. It opens with this shot of Riseborough in a beautiful grey flannel, New Look suit by Schiaparelli, accessorized with Cartier medals:
Wallis’ Schiaparelli suit with double-breasted, arched-hip jacket reminds me of this early Schiaparelli Vogue pattern, Vogue 1162:
(An incomplete copy is available on Etsy.) Too bad Vogue Patterns can’t re-release their designer patterns!
“W.E.” opens in North American theatres on December 9th.
Update: W has added this story to their website; see it here.