Bad Girls Do It Well

January 12, 2017 § 1 Comment

Late 1950s Eastman Fibers Chromspun ad feat. McCall's 5020 and Pierre Cardin suit McCall's 5099

C’est Vous! 1959 Eastman Fibers advertisement featuring McCall’s 5020 and McCall’s 5099 by Pierre Cardin.

A 1959 Eastman Fibers ad brings a note of intrigue to McCall’s patterns by photographing them in a nightlife setting, on a pair of vampy women.

The patterns are McCall’s 5020, a strapless cocktail dress, and McCall’s 5099, a skirt suit by Pierre Cardin, both shown in Wesco Chromspun fabrics.

Chromspun is the trademark for Eastman colour-locked acetate yarn from Eastman Chemical Products Inc., then a subsidiary of Eastman Kodak—in those days headquartered on Madison Avenue.

Create Your Brilliant Season

December 21, 2016 § 2 Comments

Dovima wears McCall's 4425 for Celanese, 1959

Dovima wears McCall’s 4425 for Celanese, 1959.

A Celanese advertising insert from the late 1950s shows McCall’s festive styles in the latest synthetic silks—top models and more than one tiara from the multinational chemical company that brought you cellulose acetate.

"Create your brilliant season with opulent fabrics of Celanese Contemporary Fibers" - 1959 Celanese insert

Celanese Contemporary Fibers advertising booklet, Fall 1959.

The booklet frames small, full-length photos of McCall’s designs with close-ups showing off the “brilliant” textiles. Here, McCall’s 4999 is shown in Belding Corticelli’s rayon-acetate matelassé, with McCall’s 5057 in Cohama’s Arnel triacetate faille. The model on the right is Simone D’Aillencourt:

1950s dress patterns McCall's 4999 and McCall's 5057

Left, McCall’s 4999 in Belding Corticelli matelassé; right, McCall’s 5057 in Cohama faille. Celanese insert, Fall 1959.

The blue ensemble on the left is McCall’s 5023, made in Celanese Celaperm acetate satin faille from the David Hecht Co. Anne St. Marie poses in McCall’s 5029 in Onondaga rayon-acetate brocade:

1950s dress and jacket ensemble patterns McCall's 5023 and McCall's 5029

Left, McCall’s 5023 in David Hecht Co. satin faille; right, McCall’s 5029 in Onondaga brocade. Celanese insert, Fall 1959.

Here, Dovima wears a shimmering gold version of McCall’s 4425 in Lawrence and Klauber printed crepe satin acetate, while McCall’s 4870 evokes Princess Grace in aqua acetate satin from William Skinner and Sons:

1950s evening dress patterns McCall's 4425 and McCall's 4870

McCall’s 4425 in Lawrence and Klauber printed crepe satin; right, McCall’s 4870 in William Skinner and Sons satin. Celanese insert, Fall 1959.

Dovima closes the booklet in McCall’s 5012, an at-home trouser ensemble shown in orange and tangerine Celaperm acetate satin peau from Wedgwood Fabrics.

Dovima wears McCall's 5012 in Wedgwood Fabrics' satin peau

Dovima wears McCall’s 5012 in Wedgwood Fabrics’ satin peau. Celanese insert, Fall 1959.

For more on the history of Celanese (est. 1918), see the company website.

Happy holidays, everyone!

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.)

The Look of Courrèges

January 29, 2016 § 10 Comments

Courrèges sunglasses - Simone D'Aillencourt photographed by Richard Avedon, 1965

Courrèges glasses, February 1965. Photo: Richard Avedon. Model: Simone D’Aillencourt. Image via the Richard Avedon Foundation.

André Courrèges died early this month. He was 92. (See WWD, “André Courrèges: Space Age Couturier,” or Vanessa Friedman’s obituary for The New York Times.)

1960s Vogue cover - Astrid Heeren in a white Courrèges bonnet photographed by Irving Penn

Courrèges hat, Vogue, November 15, 1964. Photo: Irving Penn. Model: Astrid Heeren. Image via Vogue.com.

Born in Pau, France, André Courrèges (1923-2016) initially became an engineer at his father’s behest. He changed careers after the Second World War, spending ten years at Balenciaga and founding his own couture house in 1961. His silver and white, spring 1964 “Space Age” collection made the Courrèges name with its futuristic, body-conscious, practical designs; a May, 1965 profile in Life magazine hailed him as “The Lord of the Space Ladies.” (See Patricia Peterson, “Courrèges Stresses Modern Look” [Spring 1964] and “Courrèges Is Star of Best Show Seen So Far” [Fall 1964]; on those otherworldly sunglasses, which reference Inuit snow-goggles, see FIDM’s note.) He retired in 1995.

1960s Vogue Paris cover featuring Maggie Eckhardt in a Courrèges ensemble

Courrèges ensemble, Vogue Paris, March 1965. Model: Maggie Eckhardt. Image via Pinterest.

In North America, licensed copies and other versions of Courrèges’ work were more common than couture originals. In the summer of 1965, McCall’s released nine patterns adapted from Courrèges. Six of these were photographed by Edward Pfizenmaier for “The Look of Courrèges,” an editorial in the Fall 1965 home catalogue. On the left is coat pattern McCall’s 7938; on the right, ensemble and dress patterns McCall’s 7932 and McCall’s 7918 (click to enlarge):

1960s Courrèges-look patterns McCall's 7938, 7932, and 7918 photographed by Edward Pfizenmaier for McCall's Pattern Fashions

“Precision… Proportion… Perfection! This is the Look of Courrèges,” McCall’s Pattern Fashions & Home Decorating, Fall-Winter 1965-66. Photos: Edward Pfizenmaier.

Here, on the left, jumper and blouse pattern McCall’s 7914; on the right, skirt suit McCall’s 7936 and jumper McCall’s 7940, made in a special Carletex fabric described as the “perfect medium for the ‘go-go’ look: washable cotton with the look and texture of leather” (all boots by Golo and Capezio):

1960s Courrèges-look patterns McCall's 7914, 7936, and 7923 photographed by Edward Pfizenmaier for McCall's Pattern Fashions

“This is the Look of Courrèges.” McCall’s Pattern Fashions & Home Decorating, Fall-Winter 1965-66. Photos: Edward Pfizenmaier.

This photo portfolio was followed by an illustrated Seventeen feature showing three more Courrèges-look patterns: jumper ensemble McCall’s 7903, dress McCall’s 7923, and hooded poncho McCall’s 7884. The textile credits are interesting: the jumper is shown in houndstooth Crompton corduroy; the dress in Burlington Dacron-cotton twill*; and the hooded poncho “in shiny make-believe black patent that’s actually vinyl-coated cotton by Landau”:

McCall's Pattern Fashions & Home Decorating, Fall-Winter 1965-66

Seventeen Magazine Seconds the Courrèges Look.” McCall’s Pattern Fashions & Home Decorating, Fall-Winter 1965-66.

A “Courrèges look” pattern also appears in the catalogue’s front pages, in a Crompton Corduroy ad that pairs McCall’s 7923 with op art by the late Marcel Barbeau:

"Crompton Corduroy just acts rich" - 1960s Crompton Corduroy advert featuring Marcel Barbeau art and a McCall's pattern

Crompton Corduroy advertisement featuring McCall’s 7923 after Courrèges, 1965.

As the catalogue reminds readers, McCall’s 7923 was also photographed for the cover of Seventeen magazine. The cover model for the “summer party issue” is Jennifer O’Neill, who would go on to star in David Cronenberg’s Scanners (1981); the matching hat seems to be an Adolfo version of a Courrèges original (see Sotheby’s and the Costume Institute):

1960s party issue cover of Seventeen magazine featuring Jennifer O'Neill in McCall's 7923 after Courrèges

McCall’s 7923 after Courrèges on the cover of Seventeen, July 1965. Model: Jennifer O’Neill. Image via eBay.

Inside, a McCall’s editorial shows popular teen model Colleen Corby photographed by Carmen Schiavone; here she wears McCall’s 7902 (far left) and McCall’s 7903 and 7884 after Courrèges (Adolfo II hats):

7902, 7903, 7884. Seventeen Jul 1965 via eBay

7902, 7903, 7884. Seventeen, July 1965. Model: Colleen Corby. Photos: Carmen Schiavone. Image via eBay.

Corby’s version of the McCall’s 7884 hooded poncho is shown in tomato red:

Seventeen Jul1965a

McCall’s after Courrèges in Seventeen, July 1965. Model: Colleen Corby. Photos: Carmen Schiavone. Image via eBay.

Here’s a look at McCall’s Courrèges-look patterns. McCall’s 7884 includes a sleeveless dress with low-slung, drawstring belt and an ultra-mod poncho with separate hood (available in the shop):

1960s poncho, hood, and dress pattern after Courrèges - McCall's 7884

McCall’s 7884 after Courrèges (1965) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

In addition to a U-neck jumper and pleated skirt, McCall’s 7903 also includes a blouse with optional trompe-l’oeil collar and cuffs (available in the shop):

1960s jumper, skirt, and blouse pattern after Courrèges - McCall's 7903

McCall’s 7903 after Courrèges (1965) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

McCall’s 7914 is a pattern for a dress or jumper, blouse, and skirt. The jumper’s welt seams could be topstitched in contrasting thread to match the blouse::

1960s dress/jumper, blouse and skirt pattern after Courrèges - McCall's 7914

McCall’s 7914 after Courrèges (1965) Image via the Vintage Pattern Wiki.

McCall’s 7918 is a dress with optional collar and sleeves cut in one with the yoke. Skinny belt included in the pattern:

1960s dress pattern after Courrèges - McCall's 7918

McCall’s 7918 after Courrèges (1965) Image via Etsy.

McCall’s 7923, the dress from the Seventeen cover and the Crompton Corduroy ad, could be made sleeveless, as a jumper, and came with a blouse with zippers at the sleeves and back. The pattern also included the low-slung skinny belt and carriers (available in the shop):

1960s dress or jumper and blouse pattern after Courrèges - McCall's 7923

McCall’s 7923 after Courrèges (1965) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Perhaps the rarest of these patterns, McCall’s 7932 is a short-sleeved top and skirt ensemble:

1960s top and skirt pattern after Courèges - McCall's 7932

McCall’s 7932 after Courrèges (1965) Image via Etsy.

McCall’s 7936 is a short-sleeved blouse and skirt suit with Courrèges’ characteristic, stand-away collar (available in 2 sizes in the shop):

1960s skirt suit and blouse pattern after Courrèges - McCall's 7936

McCall’s 7936 after Courrèges (1965) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

McCall’s Courrèges-look double-breasted coat, McCall’s 7938, has welt pocket flaps and a martingale and loose panel in back, with all edges accented by contrast binding. The pattern also includes a skirt suit and blouse (available in 2 sizes in the shop):

1960s coat, suit, and blouse pattern after Courrèges - McCall's 7938

McCall’s 7938 after Courrèges (1965) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Finally, McCall’s 7940 is a pattern for a high-waisted dress or jumper, short-sleeved blouse, and double-breasted jacket with standing collar (available in the shop):

1960s dress or jumper, blouse and jacket pattern after Courrèges - McCall's 7940

McCall’s 7940 after Courrèges (1965) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

André Courrèges’ futuristic style, high hemlines, and fresh trouser looks had made him a hit with the youthquake set. In a nod to this market, the illustrations show kitten heels and go-go boots, and the three patterns shown in Seventeen magazine have the text, “SEVENTEEN says: ‘It’s Young Fashion!'” Most of the Courrèges-look patterns were available in teen and junior sizes; one (M7923) was not available in misses’ sizes at all. (Of the two patterns in misses’ sizes only, M7938 and M7940, the former was featured in McCall’s magazine, though I’m not sure which issue.) It’s surprising that the patterns include no pantsuits: Courrèges was a great proponent of pants for the woman of the future.

I’ll close with some William Klein photos of Courrèges for Vogue magazine (visit Youthquakers for the full editorial):

Vogue1Mar1965_C1

Courrèges in Vogue, March 1, 1965. Photos: William Klein. Image via Youthquakers.

Vogue1Mar1965_C2

Courrèges in Vogue, March 1, 1965. Photos: William Klein. Image via Youthquakers.

* Dacron was known by the name Terylene in the U.K.

Richard Avedon and Sally Victor: Simplicity Pattern Book, 1950

November 29, 2015 § 5 Comments

1950s Simplicity Pattern Book detail

Photo: Richard Avedon. Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

During his early period as a fashion photographer, Richard Avedon (1923-2004) did some work for Simplicity, including the Fall-Winter 1950 issue of Simplicity Pattern Book:

Fall-Winter 1950 Simplicity Patterb Book - cover by Richard Avedon

Simplicity Pattern Book, Fall-Winter 1950. Photo: Richard Avedon. Image via vintage4me2 on eBay.

The suit is Simplicity 3310, made in Botany flannels and worn with “[m]atching hat designed for Simplicity by Sally Victor,” Simplicity 3322.

Inside, the hat is shown photographed by Halley Erskine:

1950s Sally Victor hat pattern Simplicity 3322 in Simplicity Pattern Book

Make your own hat from a Sally Victor design. Simplicity Pattern Book, Fall-Winter 1950. Photos: Halley Erskine.

The back cover is a Botany ad, apparently from the same Avedon photo shoot:

1950s Botany ad featuring Simplicity 3322 and 3310

Botany advertisement on the back cover of Simplicity Pattern Book, Fall-Winter 1950.

I have a Canadian copy of Simplicity 3322 in the shop, printed with a special Chatelaine magazine logo:

1950s Sally Victor hat and bag pattern, Simplicity 3322

Simplicity 3322 by Sally Victor (1950) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

For more on Sally Victor see my Mad Men-era millinery post.

Alexander McQueen Fabric, Part 2: Tartan

May 15, 2015 § 1 Comment

McQueen tartan dresses from Widows of Culloden (FW 2006)

Dresses in the McQueen tartan from Alexander McQueen’s Fall/Winter 2006-7 collection (Widows of Culloden). Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art (via Everything Just So).

If Alexander McQueen’s innovative prints reveal his interest in technology, the designer’s work with tartan shows his engagement with history. Continuing our celebration of Savage Beauty at the V&A, this post looks at McQueen’s use of tartan. (See Part 1: Prints, or my roundup post here.)

The MacQueen clan tartan appears extensively in the designer’s breakthrough collection, Highland Rape (Fall 1995). The collection—which used Lochcarron tartan and lace found in Brick Lane—was a highly personal response to the violence of the Highland Clearances and fashion’s appropriation of Scottish culture (watch Tim Blanks’ show video here):

McQueen wool tartan jacket and skirt from the collection of Isabella Blow - Alexander McQueen FW 1995

Jacket of McQueen wool tartan with green wool felt sleeves; skirt of McQueen wool tartan; both from the collection of Isabella Blow. Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 1995-96 (Highland Rape). Photo: Sølve Sundsbø. Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Highland Rape runway photos - Alexander McQueen FW 1995

Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 1995-96 (Highland Rape). Images via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

McQueen also used his family tartan at the house of Givenchy. In his second couture collection, Eclect Dissect (Givenchy haute couture Fall 1997), which was built on the idea of a mad scientist, the McQueen tartan was cut on the bias for tailored pieces overlaid with black lace:

Two tartan looks from Eclect Dissect - Givenchy couture FW 1997

Alexander McQueen for Givenchy Fall/Winter 1997-98 haute couture (Eclect Dissect)

The McQueen tartan reappears the following year in Joan (Fall 1998). Named for Joan of Arc, with an opening soundtrack of burning wood and runway covered in cinders, the collection thematized martyrdom, with the McQueen tartan referencing the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (see Constance C.R. White, Review/Fashion, and Kate Bethune’s note; full collection at firstVIEW):

Joan - Alexander McQueen FW1998

Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 1998-99 (Joan)

Joan - Alexander McQueen FW 1998

Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 1998-99 (Joan)

McQueen also worked with other tartans. The check pattern might be manipulated to appear blurred or bleeding, or it could be overlaid or embellished as in Eclect Dissect. In The Overlook (Fall 1999)—named for the haunted, snowbound lodge built on a Native American burial ground in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980)—a long, grey tailcoat was lined with tartan to match loose trousers, and an overlaid tartan jacket was paired with a balloon skirt in a large blanket check with tartan accents (full collection at firstVIEW):

Sunniva Stordahl and Hannelore Knuts in grey checks and tartan in Alexander McQueen FW 1999 (The Overlook)

Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 1999-2000 (The Overlook). Models: Sunniva Stordahl and Hannelore Knuts.

McQueen’s 1960s-inspired collection, The Man Who Knew Too Much (Fall 2005), included bias-cut separates in a wool ombré check, together with a black, white, and pink check party dress covered in beaded fringe:

Raquel Zimmermann and Carmen Kass in tartan looks from The Man Who Knew Too Much - McQueen FW 2005

Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 2005-6 (The Man Who Knew Too Much). Models: Raquel Zimmermann and Carmen Kass. Images via style.com.

The Girl Who Lived in the Tree (Fall 2008), a fanciful narrative of the British Empire, had several bias-cut pieces in a black, white, and red tartan, and two coats in a grey mohair tartan for a bleeding effect:

Alexander McQueen FW 2008

Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 2008-9 (The Girl Who Lived in the Tree). Models: Sara Blomqvist and Alanna Zimmer. Images via style.com.

There were several pieces in the McQueen tartan in Alexander McQueen’s Fall 2006 menswear collection, which was inspired by vampire movies Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) and Interview With the Vampire (1994). Vogue editor Hamish Bowles wore the appliquéd kimono-and-pants ensemble to the Costume Institute gala in 2011 (see the collection and read Tim Blanks’ review on style.com; video at AlexanderMcQueen.com):

McQueen menswear FW2006 tartan

Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 2006-7 menswear. Images via style.com.

The same season, McQueen returned to Scottish history with Widows of Culloden (Fall 2006), a romantic collection commemorating the final battle of the 1745 Jacobite Rising. The show invitation had the title in Gaelic: Bantraich de cuil lodair (see Kate Bethune on Widows of Culloden). As in the Givenchy couture, the McQueen tartan was cut on the bias, embroidered, and trimmed with lace and tulle (click to enlarge):

Widows of Culloden - Alexander McQueen runway lookbook FW 2006

Widows of Culloden - Alexander McQueen runway lookbook FW 2006

Widows of Culloden - Alexander McQueen runway lookbook FW 2006

Widows of Culloden - Alexander McQueen runway lookbook FW 2006

For more see Jonathan Faiers, McQueen and Tartan, and Ghislaine Wood’s essay, “Clan MacQueen,” in the V&A catalogue.

Like other traditional tartans, the McQueen tartan can be ordered from Scottish textile mills in different weights and fibre contents. (It’s often listed as ‘MacQueen.’) Alexander McQueen used tartan from Lochcarron, a mill established in the mid-nineteenth century in the Scottish highlands.

McQueen / MacQueen tartan swatch

MacQueen Modern tartan swatch from the Scottish Tartans Authority.

As a memorial to the late designer, Scotweb owner Nick Fiddes designed a mourning version of the MacQueen clan tartan.

What would you make in the McQueen tartan?

Sourcing Tartan Fabric

Alexander McQueen Fabric, Part 1: Prints

May 11, 2015 § 5 Comments

Jack the Ripper McQueen sketch

Sketch by Alexander McQueen, Central Saint Martins MA graduate portfolio, Jack the Ripper Stalks his Victims, Fall/Winter 1992. Pencil on distressed paper with fabric swatches. Image via Alexander McQueen.

As part of this blog’s celebration of Savage Beauty in London, I’ll be devoting two posts to Alexander McQueen fabrics. (See my earlier roundup post here.) First: a look at McQueen’s distinctive prints.

McQueen’s fellow Central Saint Martins student Simon Ungless, who went on to become director of the School of Fashion at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University, designed the barbed hawthorn print in McQueen’s graduate collection, Jack the Ripper Stalks his Victims (Fall 1992; interview here. Oberto Gili photographed Isabella Blow in the coat for British Vogue.) Ungless also designed the swallow print in The Birds (Spring 1995):

Coat in pink silk satin printed in thorn pattern, Alexander McQueen FW 1992

Coat, pink silk satin printed in thorn pattern by Simon Ungless, lined in white silk with encapsulated human hair, Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 1992 (Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims). Photo: Sølve Sundsbø. Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mr Pearl and Plum Sykes in two swallow print looks, Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 1995 (The Birds)

Two swallow print looks, Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 1995 (The Birds) Models: Mr. Pearl and Plum Sykes.

Silk jacket with swallow print, Alexander McQueen SS 1995 (The Birds)

Silk jacket, Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 1995 (The Birds). Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Freelance print designer and Central Saint Martins Textiles tutor Fleet Bigwood designed fabrics for Alexander McQueen’s first three seasons. (See Fleet Bigwood: Breaking the Rules at Texprint, or the BBC’s Blast videos.) The top in this ensemble from Nihilism (Spring 1994, McQueen’s third collection) was printed using an iron filing paste that was rusted through exposure to air and salt water (see Louise Nutt on Pinterest; full collection at the Fashion Spot, or video here):

Fleet Bigwood rust-printed top, Alexander McQueen SS 1994

Ensemble featuring a Fleet Bigwood print for Alexander McQueen’s Spring/Summer 1994 collection (Nihilism). Image via Pinterest.

In 2002, immediately after presenting his award-winning Central Saint Martins graduate collection, Jonathan Saunders was hired to design prints for Alexander McQueen’s Spring 2003 collection, Irere. Working with designer Christopher Pearson—a member of the Alexander McQueen design team from 2001 to 2006 and a founding member of the company’s fashion print department—Saunders produced Irere’s celebrated Bird-of-Paradise prints (see the V&A on Irere):

Jonathan Saunders bird-of-paradise feather print for Alexander McQueen, SS 2003

Feather print for Alexander McQueen, Spring/Summer 2003 (Irere). Image via Christopher Pearson/Cargo.

Alexander McQueen Irere SS 2003 prints by Jonathan Saunders

Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2003 (Irere). Models: Frankie Rayder and Roos van Bosstraeten. Images via style.com.

The following year, Pearson co-designed the Alexander McQueen skull scarf with Jennefer Osterhoudt, who was head of accessories for McQueen at Givenchy and later at Alexander McQueen. The pattern is based on a skull scarf found in Camden Market:

Skull print by Christopher Pearson and Jennefer Osterhoudt for Alexander McQueen, 2002

Skull print by Christopher Pearson and Jennefer Osterhoudt for Alexander McQueen, 2002. Image via Christopher Pearson/Cargo.

For McQueen’s later collections, the prints were produced by a team of designers that included textile design interns who might be hired back after graduation. From 2006 to 2011, the company’s head print designer was Central Saint Martins graduate Holly Marler, who is now head of embroidery, fabric, and print design at Temperley London.

Lilly Heine, now head of print fabric development at Dries Van Noten, interned with Jonathan Saunders and later Alexander McQueen as a textiles student. (See her profiles in the Frankfurter Allgemeine [German only] and the Independent.) During her internship at Alexander McQueen, Heine designed some prints for La Dame Bleue (Spring 2008). The collection’s rainbow bird-of-paradise print appeared on several looks including the feather-collared Bird of Paradise dress—recently worn by FKA twigs to perform at the V&A’s Savage Beauty gala:

Alexander McQueen bird-of-paradise prints, SS 2008 Isabella Blow collection

Alexander McQueen, Spring/Summer 2008 (La Dame Bleue). Models: Taryn Davidson and Viviane Orth. Images via style.com.

Torunn Myklebust, today a senior print designer at Givenchy, also did a textile design internship at Alexander McQueen. As an intern, Myklebust worked on prints for Natural Dis-Tinction Un-Natural Selection (Spring 2009), and she rejoined the company in late 2009. (Read an interview in Natt&Dag [Norwegian only]; see Myklebust’s tumblr.) The wood-grain digital print from the Spring 2009 collection was later used for the endpapers of Andrew Bolton’s Savage Beauty catalogue:

Wood-grain digital print, Alexander McQueen SS 2009

From a silk/synthetic ensemble by Alexander McQueen, Spring/Summer 2009 (Natural Dis-Tinction Un-Natural Selection). Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In her review of the Spring 2009 collection, Sarah Mower identified engineered prints as a trend out of London: “bright, multicolored allover prints, engineered to fit around jackets, leggings, and cocoon dresses—new on the Paris runway, but also part of a general trend emanating from London’s young designers.” The Spring 2009 advertising campaign, shot by Craig McDean, features a jacket and leggings in one of the collection’s crystalline digital prints:

Heidi Mount in Craig McDean's Spring 2009 campaign for Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen Spring 2009 ad campaign. Photo: Craig McDean. Image via styleregistry.

In her Savage Beauty interview with Tim Blanks, Sarah Burton discusses McQueen’s meticulous design process when working with patterned fabrics such as prints or jacquards. From Fall 2009 on, McQueen would drape the initial design using a rough version of the fabric, with the team producing miniature, 3-D paper dolls to show the pattern placement. When a working version of the fabric was ready, he would finalize the pattern placement on a mannequin, after which the print or jacquard would be re-adjusted to match at the seams. Only then would it be sent into production. (See Andrew Bolton, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, pp. 229-30.)

Frederic Alexander, who worked as an assistant to Holly Marler and now designs for his own label, Saint Etienne, worked on prints for Alexander McQueen’s Pre-Fall 2009 and Fall 2009 collections. The Escher-inspired magpie houndstooth print recalls Simon Ungless’ swallow print:

Floral and magpie houndstooth prints, Alexander McQueen Pre-Fall and FW 2009-10

Floral print design for Alexander McQueen Pre-Fall 2009; magpie houndstooth print design for Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 2009-10 (The Horn of Plenty). Images via Saint Etienne/Cargo.

Alexander McQueen Pre-Fall and Fall 2009

Alexander McQueen Pre-Fall 2009 and Fall/Winter 2009-10 (The Horn of Plenty). Images via style.com.

Advances in inkjet technology enabled the thirty-six circle-engineered digital prints in Plato’s Atlantis (Spring 2010). (For further technical discussion of textiles in Plato’s Atlantis, see the Savage Beauty section of the Alexander McQueen website.) Freelance textile designer Chinsky Cheung interned at Alexander McQueen and returned to the company for several collections, including Plato’s Atlantis. In an article published in Hong Kong’s Milk magazine, she shows aspects of the design process including pattern placement:

Alexander McQueen SS 2010 look 3 print placement

Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2010 (Plato’s Atlantis). Model: Karmen Pedaru. Images: style.com and Chinsky Cheung/Milk magazine via Augustine Wong.

(For more scans see Augustine Wong’s post, The Queen of the Prints.)

Dress, digitally printed silk satin and silk chiffon, Alexander McQueen SS 2010

Dress, digitally printed silk satin and silk chiffon, by Alexander McQueen, Spring/Summer 2010 (Plato’s Atlantis). Image via the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Fall 2010 menswear (An Bailitheoir Cnámh – the Bone Collector) and women’s Pre-Fall 2010 collection had the same catacombs print:

Catacomb print, Alexander McQueen Fall 2010 men's / women's Pre-Fall 2010-11

Two catacomb print looks, Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 2010-11 menswear (An Bailitheoir Cnámh) and Pre-Fall 2010. Images via style.com and Alexander McQueen.

The textiles in McQueen’s posthumously presented Fall 2010 collection (known as Angels and Demons) were patterned with digitally manipulated images drawn from early religious painting and sculpture. (See Dazed Digital and the V&A on the collection.) Some of the patterns were not prints but jacquards, while the reworked Old Master prints looked back to pieces like the Fall 1997 Campin crucifixion-printed jacket:

Richard Fairhead's photo of Alexander McQueen Byzantine lion jacquard, Dazed magazine 2010

Alexander McQueen Byzantine lion jacquard, Dazed magazine, October 2010. Photo: Richard Fairhead. Image via Dazed Digital.

Alexander McQueen dress with print based on Stefan Lochner's 15th-century Altarpiece of the Patron Saints of Köln,

Dress, silk print based on Stefan Lochner’s Dombild Altarpiece with underskirt of gilded feathers, Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 2010-11. Image via the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Alexander McQueen jacket with Robert Campin 15th c. crucifixion print, FW 1997-98

Jacket, Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 1997-98 (It’s a Jungle Out There). Photo: Sølve Sundsbø. Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

For more on digital prints, see the webpage for the Phoenix Art Museum’s 2013 exhibit, Digital Print Fashion (more in Corbin Chamberlin, “Phoenix Art Museum Embraces New Technology with ‘Digital Print Fashion’ Exhibit“). If you’re interested in designing your own digital prints, Kathryn Brenne recently wrote a primer for Vogue Patterns magazine’s February/March 2015 issue, and Melanie Bowles and Ceri Isaac have published a textbook on the subject, Digital Textile Design (Laurence King, 2nd ed. 2012).

With thanks to Kate Bethune.

Next: Alexander McQueen and tartan.

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