Black and White Ball 50th Anniversary + Sale!

November 28, 2016 § Leave a comment

Principessa Luciana Pignatelli, Peter Gimbel and Contessa Crespi at Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball at the Plaza hotel in Manhattan in 1966

Guests at Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball at the Plaza hotel, Manhattan, 1966. Photo: Lawrence Fried. Image: Condé Nast / Getty via the New York Times.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Truman Capote’s legendary Black and White Ball. (Read Amy Fine Collins’ article for the 30th.)

Can you name the celebrities behind the masks? Guests at the Black and White Balls, 1966 photographed for LIFE by Henry Grossman

Masked guests in Life magazine, December 9, 1966. Photos: Henry Grossman. Image: Life archive.

To mark the occasion, I’m having a flash sale in the PatternVault Etsy shop.

Black and white evening ensembles by Pauline Trigère, 1964

Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

The sale runs through today only—20% off with coupon code CAPOTE. Your purchase helps support the research on this blog.

Happy shopping!

Photo: Barton Silverman. Image: the New York Times.

Truman Capote in his mask from F.A.O. Schwarz. Photo: Barton Silverman. Image: the New York Times.

James Galanos: McCall’s Patterns

November 27, 2016 § 1 Comment

Gold and black metallic evening gown built over a pellon and black silk taffeta by James Galanos, 1954

Metallic evening gown by James Galanos photographed at the Costume Institute, 1954. Image: Bettmann / Getty.

James Galanos died last month. He was 92. According to his obituary in the New York Times, Galanos authorized only two licenses: furs and fragrance. But he also licensed commercial sewing patterns—first with McCall’s, and later with Vogue Patterns. This post looks at Galanos’ 1950s patterns with McCall’s.

Jean Patchett photographed by Nina Leen in Galanos, 1959

Jean Patchett in Galanos, Life magazine, February 23, 1959. Photo: Nina Leen. Image: Life archive.

Born in Philadelphia to Greek parents, James Galanos (1924-2016) was a graduate of the Traphagen School of Fashion. He worked with Hattie Carnegie, Hollywood costume designer Jean Louis, and Robert Piguet before founding his own, LA-based label in 1951. He retired in 1998, the year after LACMA mounted a retrospective of his work. Galanos won the devotion of celebrities and socialites with his virtuoso technique and flawless craftsmanship.

Galanos label

Image: the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

1950s

McCall’s introduced designer exclusives by “James Galanos, brilliant young star of American fashion” with two patterns for winter 1956-57. The Galanos designs—full-skirted formal gowns in two lengths—were prominently featured in the holiday issues of McCall’s Pattern Book and the company’s monthly news leaflet.

Clothes to make you beautiful this Christmas: Galanos gown McCall's 3895 on the cover of McCall's Pattern Book, Winter / Holiday 1956-57

McCall’s 3895 by Galanos on the cover of McCall’s Pattern Book, Winter 1956-57. Image: eBay.

"Holiday news: Galanos designs for McCall's" - illustration of McCall's 3894 and 3895, 1956

“Holiday news: Galanos designs for McCall’s.” McCall’s news leaflet, December 1956.

According to the news leaflet, McCall’s 3894 is “a fabulous ball gown to make in brocade.” The molded bodice is a trademark Galanos touch:

1950s James Galanos evening dress pattern McCall's 3894

McCall’s 3894 by Galanos (1956) Image: the Vintage Pattern Wiki.

McCall's 3894 by Galanos in McCall's Pattern Book, 1956

McCall’s 3894 by Galanos in McCall’s Pattern Book, Winter 1956-57. Image: eBay.

McCall’s 3895 is a bow-trimmed evening gown. As the leaflet notes, “Beautifully low-cut in back, it can be cocktail length.” Recommended fabrics included heavy satin, peau de soie, brocade, and taffeta:

1950s James Galnos evening dress pattern McCall's 3895

McCall’s 3895 by Galanos (1956) Image: eBay.

A Galanos design in the McCall's catalogue, February 1957

A Galanos design in the McCall’s catalogue, February 1957. Image: Etsy.

In spring, 1957, McCall’s released two more Galanos patterns: the lavishly full-skirted McCall’s 4045 and 4046.

1950s Galanos evening dress and petticoat pattern McCall's 4045

McCall’s 4045 by Galanos (1957) Image: eBay.

Here, the back bodice extends into a front yoke. The skirt and petticoat were to be made in organdy, nylon, or silk organza:

1950s Galanos evening dress and petticoat pattern McCalls 4046

McCalls 4046 by Galanos (1957) Image: eBay.

The new Galanos patterns were promoted in the March issue of McCall’s magazine (“Galanos designs: Black-and-white for summer evenings”) and in the company’s “Make the Clothes that Make the Woman” advertising campaign.

"Make the Clothes that Make the Woman - with exclusive McCall's patterns by Galanos, Givenchy, Trigère, Sybil Connolly, Emilio of Capri!" McCall's 4046 by Galanos

“Make the Clothes that Make the Woman” advertisement featuring McCall’s 4046 by Galanos, spring 1957.

In the Summer 1957 pattern book, the designs are illustrated in green linen and flower-embroidered organdy:

James Galanos patterns illustrated in McCall's Pattern Book, Summer 1957

James Galanos patterns illustrated in McCall’s Pattern Book, Summer 1957.

Today, Galanos’ McCall’s patterns are quite scarce. Perhaps customers balked at the extravagant yardage: the skirt for one dress took over 20 yards of narrow fabric. Galanos’ work with sheer layers continued into the following decade, as seen in this 1961 editorial by Gordon Parks:

"Full-length evening dress is draped in pink and rose with a light orange hem. Like most Galanos styles, this one is deceptively simple but it is intricately and artfully constructed so that it is not bulky despite the amount of chiffon used -- 75 yards in all." Life, April 14, 1961.

Gloria Vanderbilt in a chiffon evening dress by Galanos, Life magazine, April 14, 1961. Photo: Gordon Parks. Image: Shrimpton Couture.

Next: James Galanos’ Vogue patterns.

What to Wear in an Emergency

November 9, 2016 § 3 Comments

Weldons So-Easy 20 hooded wrap housecoat detail

Detail, Weldons So-Easy 20 (ca. 1940).

From Weldons’ 1940s So-Easy line, this “Ten-Second” Siren Wrap features a cozy hood and chic contrast binding:

Ten-second siren wrap dressing gown pattern - Weldons So-Easy 20, circa 1940. A Weldon Production.

Weldons So-Easy 20 (ca. 1940) Siren wrap.

Other So-Easy air raid patterns included a women’s two-way siren suit (no. 19), child’s hooded siren suit (no. 17), and girl’s hooded siren suit (no. 18).

Back of Weldons So-Easy 20, showing other 1940s designs in the So-Easy pattern range

Back of Weldons So-Easy 20, showing other designs in the So-Easy pattern range.

The pattern tissue is printed with an advertisement for Dewhurst’s Sylko machine twist.

Weldons So-Easy 20 pattern tissue advertising Dewhurst's Sylko machine twist

Weldons So-Easy 20 pattern tissue advertising Dewhurst’s Sylko machine twist.

For knitters, Weldons also had a special knitting book called Quick-Change Siren Woollies (click to view an Etsy download):

Weldon Knitting no. 29 1940: Quick-Change Siren Woollies - 14 garments including jackets, pullovers, children's siren suits, mittens, shawls, socks, etc.

Quick-Change Siren Woollies – Weldon Knitting no. 29 (Nov. 1940) Image: Etsy.

For more on Weldons’ wartime So-Easy patterns, see There’s a War On.

Rachel Comey: Vogue Patterns

October 18, 2016 § 4 Comments

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

Rachel Comey’s Bowtie top and 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

Dan Stevens in Rachel Comey’s Pierrot dress. 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 pants with an asymmetrical front closure:

Rachel Comey top and 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 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 a long-sleeved jumpsuit, Vogue 1523 (click to view in the shop):

Rachel Comey jumpsuit pattern Vogue 1523

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

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

Rachel Comey jacket and Botanical print jumpsuit, Fall 2015

Rachel Comey 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.

The Epitome of Fall Chic

September 22, 2016 § 4 Comments

Butterick 6399 illustrated by Myrtle Lages on the cover of Butterick Fashion Magazine, Fall 1935

Butterick Fashion Magazine, Fall 1935. Illustration: Myrtle Lages.

To celebrate the first day of autumn, here’s a vintage Butterick cover from fall, 1935.

The fur-collared cover look is Butterick 6399, “A brief and buttoned jacket, snugly fitted and collared with badger or wolf, plus a skirt worn shorter than the length you’re used to—these make the suit the epitome of fall chic.”

For more on vintage fur, both natural and faux, see Fur Cloth for Fall.

Patterns in Vogue: How to Make the Most of a Beautiful Print

September 18, 2016 § 2 Comments

Ann Schaufuss photographed by Clive Arrowsmith for British Vogue, autumn 1970

Detail, British Vogue, October 1, 1970. Photo: Clive Arrowsmith. Model: Ann Schaufuss. Image: Youthquakers.

How to make the most of a beautiful print? As an early ’70s British Vogue editorial puts it, “Cape it… blouse it… kilt it.”

The Clive Arrowsmith editorial features Ann Schaufuss in three Vogue patterns that present the silhouettes of fall 1970 in glowing, ink-coloured prints. From Nina Ricci, Vogue 2406 is an “enveloping berber cape” and sleeveless dress made from two Staron fabrics in the same “glass-flower” print: a luxurious wool-viscose-polyamide for the cape and panne velvet for the dress, available at Harrods and Gasmey, London.

Ann Schaufuss in Vogue Paris Original 2406 by Nina Ricci, photographed by Clive Arrowsmith, 1970

Vogue 2406 by Nina Ricci, British Vogue, October 1, 1970. Photo: Clive Arrowsmith. Model: Ann Schaufuss. Image: Youthquakers.

The second look pairs a yoked, full-sleeved blouse, Vogue 7538, and long Miss Vogue kilt Vogue 7889. The blouse is turquoise silk crepe de chine from Gasmey, while the kilt is Bombyx rayon panne velvet in a green and jewel-toned print, available at Liberty (boots to order at The Chelsea Cobbler):

Ann Schaufuss wears blouse Vogue 7538 and skirt Miss Vogue 7889, photographed for Vogue UK by Clive Arrowsmith

Vogue 7538 and 7889 in British Vogue, October 1, 1970. Photo: Clive Arrowsmith. Model: Ann Schaufuss. Image: Youthquakers.

The boho Baba Yaga look may not be to everyone’s taste, but velvet and early ’70s style are trends for fall 2016… Time to dig out some vintage prints?

(See Youthquakers for more of the October issue.)

Jean Muir: Vogue Patterns

September 13, 2016 § 7 Comments

Jean Muir dress photographed by David Bailey for the cover of British Vogue, 1973

A Jean Muir look on the cover of British Vogue, February 1973. Photo: David Bailey. Model: Susan Moncur. Image: eBay.

Jean Muir was the only designer to ascend from Butterick Young Designer to Vogue Couturier. (See my post on Jean Muir’s Butterick patterns here.) This week, a look at Vogue’s Jean Muir patterns from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s.

muirsketches

Jean Muir sketches on display in the National Museum of Scotland’s new galleries. Image © National Museums Scotland

muirpieces

Pattern pieces for a Jean Muir dress, Spring 1980. Image © National Museums Scotland.

1970s

Jean Muir was introduced as a new Vogue Couturier in Vogue Pattern Book’s first issue of 1972. Three Muir designs (Vogue 2663, 2664, and 2646) were pictured throughout the magazine, but only the last two appear in the designer feature: Vogue 2664’s full-sleeved dress in saffron jersey, and Vogue 2646’s evening dress and matching short shorts in bone-coloured matte jersey. The model on the right is Joyce Walker (click to enlarge):

Introducing Jean Muir: 1970s dress patterns Vogue 2664 and 2646

“Introducing Jean Muir” — Vogue 2664 and 2646 in Vogue Pattern Book, February/March 1972.

Posing for Richard Avedon, Faye Dunaway wears a Jean Muir dress with handkerchief sleeves:

Faye Dunaway photographed by Richard Avedon in Jean Muir, 1973

Faye Dunaway in Jean Muir, Vogue, March 1973. Photo: Richard Avedon. Image: The Fashion Spot.

This dress with gathered centre panels and shirttail hem was featured on the counter catalogue in a lush floral print:

1970s Jean Muir dress pattern Vogue 2804

Vogue 2804 by Jean Muir (1973) Image: Etsy.

Jean Muir's grand terrace gesture, 2804 on the cover of Vogue Patterns catalogue, May 1973

Vogue 2804 by Jean Muir, Vogue Patterns catalogue, May 1973. Image: eBay.

Vogue 2884 is an evening dress with raised waist and pintuck details. The back is particularly elegant (available in the shop):

1970s Jean Muir evening dress pattern Vogue 2884

Vogue 2884 by Jean Muir (1973) Image: PatternVault on Etsy.

David Bailey photographed Anjelica Huston in an olive version—with matching cloche—for British Vogue:

Anjelica Huston photographed by David Bailey in Jean Muir, 1973

Jean Muir olive suede-trimmed angora dress and cloche, British Vogue, September 1, 1973. Photo: David Bailey. Model: Anjelica Huston. Image: Youthquakers.

Muir ensembles often involve matching hats, and her patterns sometimes include a head covering. This pattern has three (click to view in the PatternVault shop):

1970s Jean Muir hat and scarf pattern Vogue 1148

Vogue 1148 by Jean Muir (1974) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

A news cover illustrated by Michaele Vollbracht recommends wearing View C’s ‘ScarfCap’ with a ‘BigDress’ for fall ’75:

1970s Jean Muir scarf cap pattern Vogue 1148 (with dress 9239), illustrated by Michaele Vollbracht

Vogue 9239 with Vogue 1148 by Jean Muir, Vogue Patterns Eye on Fashion, September 1975. Illustration: Michaele Vollbracht. Image: eBay.

Vogue 1153 has characteristic Jean Muir dressmaker details—radiating Deco pintucks, tucked sleeves, released pleats, and contrast topstitching. The recommended fabrics include lightweight synthetic knits, matte jersey, tricot knits, and wool jersey:

1970s Jean Muir dress pattern Vogue 1153

Vogue 1153 by Jean Muir (1974) Image: Etsy.

On assignment for Vogue, Deborah Turbeville photographed Muir with models in her all-white apartment:

Deborah Turbeville photo of models with Jean Muir in Vogue, February 1975

Models with Jean Muir in Vogue, February 1975. Photo: Deborah Turbeville. Models: Paddy Grey and Clio Goldsmith. Image: What Goes Around Comes Around.

Deborah Turbeville photo of Jean Muir with models in her suede dresses in Vogue, February 1975

Jean Muir with models in her suede dresses: Louise Pleydell-Bouverie, Clio Goldsmith, and Paddy Grey, for Vogue, February 1975. Photo: Deborah Turbeville. Image: the Wapping Project.

Turbeville’s legendary Bathhouse series includes a Jean Muir Liberty-print smock:

Jean Muir smock dress photographed by Deborah Turbeville at the Asser Levy Bathhouse, New York

Right: Jean Muir Liberty print smock dress, Vogue, May 1975. Photo: Deborah Turbeville. Stylist: Polly Mellen. Image: the Fashion Spot.

1980s

Vogue 2399’s full-sleeved dress was previously seen in my Iman post:

1980s Jean Muir dress pattern feat. Iman, Vogue 2399

Vogue 2399 by Jean Muir (1980) Model: Iman.

Vogue 2463 reinterprets Muir’s trademark cut-in sleeves and pin-tucked bodice for the early ’80s:

1980 Jean Muir dress pattern Vogue 2463

Vogue 2463 by Jean Muir (1980) Image: Etsy.

Vogue 1123’s two-piece dress arranges pleated volumes around smooth central panels:

1980s Jean Muir top and skirt pattern Vogue 1123

Vogue 1123 by Jean Muir (1983) Image: Rusty Zipper.

The latest Jean Muir Vogue pattern I’ve seen is Vogue 1502, a jacket and skirt. The unlined jacket has deep kimono sleeves and a broad waistline tuck:

1980s Jean Muir skirt and jacket pattern Vogue 1502

Vogue 1502 by Jean Muir (1985) Image: Etsy.

Postscript

Style Patterns—by then owned by Simplicity—produced this dress pattern to accompany Channel Four’s 1993 television series, Very Jean Muir. The pattern is found in the National Museum of Scotland’s Jean Muir Collection:

1990s Jean Muir dress pattern for the Channel Four series "Very Jean Muir"

Channel Four / Style 0526 by Jean Muir (1993) Image: eBay.

Jean Muir’s dedication to the craft of fashion design gives her work a special appeal for home sewers. When Leeds Art Galleries mounted a travelling Jean Muir exhibition, dressmakers brought their Vogue patterns for her to sign.* Have you made any Jean Muir patterns?

* Maureen Cleave, “Makers of Modern Fashion: Jean Muir,” Observer supplement, September 21, 1980.
Grace Coddington photographed by Eric Boman in Jean Muir, British Vogue, fall 1973

Jean Muir dress, British Vogue, September 15, 1973. Photo: Eric Boman. Model: Grace Coddington. Image: Beauty is a warm gun.

Karen Kain photographed by David Montgomery in Jean Muir (Graham Smith cap), 1975

Karen Kain in Jean Muir, Vogue, November 1975. Photo: David Montgomery. Image: Barefoot Vintage.

Donna Mitchell photographed by David Bailey in a suede and jersey ensemble by Jean Muir, 1973

Punched suede top and matte jersey skirt by Jean Muir, British Vogue, February 1973. Photo: David Bailey. Model: Donna Mitchell. Image: Youthquakers.

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