2017 is officially the year of Versace. To mark the 20th anniversary of her brother’s death, Donatella Versace has been returning to the house’s heritage, most notably with a surprise finale to her spring runway show. But if it’s that ’90s supermodel moment—glamazons lip-synching George Michael—that we remember best, let us not forget Versace’s equally glamorous beginnings.
Early in Gianni Versace’s career, Vogue magazine featured one of his Vogue patterns, as worn by the young Gia Carangi. The pleated blouse, pants, and cummerbund were shown in black and white silk taffeta.
The early ’90s are back—and so are sarouel, or harem pants. Here’s a look at vintage patterns for this distinctive trouser style.
Like caftans, sarouel originated in ancient Persia. Persian sirwāl became Turkish şalvar, entering the Western fashion vocabulary via Ottoman culture and the early modern vogue for turquerie.
Şalvar were introduced to Western women’s clothing in the 19th century as part of the Rational Dress movement: Amelia Bloomer conceived her eponymous trousers as “Turkish pants.” (On cycling bloomers see Jonathan Walford, The 1890s Bicycle Bloomer Brouhaha.) Couturier Paul Poiret is usually credited with making “harem” pants fashionable in the period before World War 1.
In the mid-’60s, harem pants enjoyed renewed popularity as glam loungewear. (I Dream of Jeannie started airing in September, 1965.) This Vogue pyjama with matching, dolman-sleeved overblouse has a cuffed trouser option:
Pucci’s interest in harem pants predates the jewelled version at the top of this post: a short, blue harem ensemble was part of his 1965 Braniff flight attendant uniform. These high-waisted palazzo pyjamas also have a cuffed, harem option, as worn by Editha Dussler:
Anne de Zogheb modelled these Pucci harem pyjamas, which feature an intriguing self-lined skirt with side openings:
Bouffant knickers are a variation on the harem pant. This gold brocade, coat-and-knickers ensemble from Yves Saint Laurent’s Winter 1970 haute couture collection evokes the hippie trail. The model is Viviane Fauny:
From 1976, this Kenzo pattern includes a cuffed harem pant option. (A copy is available in the shop.)
Hot pink harem pants catch the eye on this Very Easy Vogue pattern, which also includes palazzo pants and a maxi skirt:
This gold satin pair, from Krizia, has no side seams:
In the early ’80s, the dropped-crotch, Zouave style of harem pant came to the fore. This Simplicity pattern includes Zouave pants in two lengths:
The trousers in this Versace ensemble evoke the harem silhouette, with draped volume tapering to a fitted ankle (see my Versace post for more photos):
Very Easy Very Vogue got on the dropped crotch bandwagon with three styles of Zouave pants—view C with side drape:
By the early ’90s, hip-hop musician MC Hammer had made so great an impact on popular culture that his characteristic trousers were known as “hammer pants.” Simplicity’s official MC Hammer unisex pants pattern came with not one but two iron-on transfers. (See envelope back here. There was even a doll clothes pattern for the MC Hammer action figure.) Drop-crotch pants could also be found as Butterick Classics and a unisex costume pattern.
Issey Miyake designed these lowest of the low dropped-crotch pants, as worn by Phina Oruche:
Recent patterns heralding the return of the sarouel include McCall’s 5858, Kwik Sew 3701, and the unisex Burda 7546. If the trend continues, perhaps we’ll see a pattern for Rachel Comey’s Pollock trouser…
This is the second of two posts on Gianni Versace’s Vogue patterns. (See the first post, on designs by Versace for Genny and Complice, here.)
Today, Gianni Versace may be best known for his flamboyant prints, colour, and embellishment, and designs that exploit the tactile qualities of materials like leather and metal mesh. Besides being celebrity-friendly, Versace was also a master technician and art connoisseur; his designs make myriad references to art history, especially the classical and baroque. His clothes flatter a woman’s curves; indeed, disliking standard mannequins, he designed his own based on the Venus de Milo.
Vogue’s Versace patterns were released from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. Here is a selection:
Vogue 2168 is a pantsuit and blouse modelled by Karen Bjornson and photographed by Patrick Demarchelier:
Clotilde models Vogue 2375, the draped trouser ensemble I featured in last year’s disco best-of:
Vogue 2534 is a colour-blocked wrap dress with handkerchief hem. I love the hybrid cami/draped bodice, which ties at the left shoulder:
Here’s the photo that was published in Vogue Patterns magazine; this shoot was also by Patrick Demarchelier:
(There’s a small size available at Miscellanium on Etsy.) This later campaign image shows Iman in a dress with similar bodice construction:
Vogue 2702 is a design for harem pants and a lavishly draped tunic with batwing sleeves and pointed back hem:
Here’s an editorial photo of Vogue 2702 from the holiday issue of the magazine:
Vogue 2702’s pleated harem pants make me think it could be from Versace’s Spring 1981 collection, shown in this campaign image by Richard Avedon:
As even this small sample of sewing patterns shows, Gianni Versace’s work was sui generis. It’s a special treat that the general period of the designer’s work covered by Vogue patterns yielded collaborations with prominent photographers including Guy Bourdin, Helmut Newton, Patrick Demarchelier, and Richard Avedon. (In 1986, Versace was the subject of a fashion photography exhibition at Paris’ Musée Galliera; see Christopher Petkanas, “A Dialog with Gianni Versace,” WWD, October 22, 1986.) Several of the Versace patterns give fresh takes on classical drapery, showing Versace’s gift for reinterpretation and innovation through a keen engagement with culture—both high and popular.
This month marks 15 years since the death of Gianni Versace. This week’s post will be the first of two on Versace sewing patterns, in memory of the late designer.
Before he founded his own company, Gianni Versace (1946–1997) was the designer for the Milanese brands Genny, Complice, and Callaghan, and his first boutique sold his designs for those labels. These editorial images from L’Officiel, photographed at the Tivioli showroom in Milan, show designs from all three, as well as Versace’s new label:
The earliest Versace sewing patterns are drawn from the designer’s work for Genny and Complice. Vogue Patterns welcomed Versace to their designer licensees in 1978, the year he founded his business:
(The headline reads, “Viva, Versace! Welcome to Vogue’s world! Gianni Versace, the Milanese master of fashion, opens exciting vistas into your sewing life.”)
Vogue Patterns’ first four Versace patterns were designs for Genny and Complice, two from each label.
Versace was the designer for Genny, a label owned by the Girombelli family, from 1973. Vogue 2025 (also shown in the “Viva, Versace” photo above) is an ensemble consisting of a pleated blouse or tunic, tapered pants, and pleated cummerbund:
The cummerbund is tucked rather than pleated in Vogue 2026, an evening suit that also includes a short, double-breasted jacket with contrast lapels, bias camisole, and sheer skirt with shaped front hemline:
Here’s the Vogue 2026 evening suit made up in white for a 1979 editorial:
Complice was a line Gianni Versace developed for the Girombellis. Vogue 2048 looks forward to the Eighties silhouette with its loose dress or top with standing band collar and slim, tapered pants. As the envelope says, “Purchased belt forms desired blouson”:
Vogue 2080 is a military-style ensemble consisting of pleated, tapered pants and a blouse with standing collar, button epaulets, and contrast piping trim:
Update: this Complice design was also photographed by Patrick Demarchelier for the cover of Vogue Patterns:
Just for fun, here are some Versace for Complice campaign images. Guy Bourdin was the photographer for Complice campaigns during this period. These first two, very Interview with the Vampire images are from August 1977:
This one I’m not sure of the date:
You can see more Guy Bourdin/Versace for Complice photos here.
The term ‘disco’ is a little nebulous. Disco music was popular from the mid-1970s to about 1980. Its huge popularity led to an anti-disco backlash that’s come to be symbolized by Disco Demolition Night, a.k.a. the ‘Disco Riots,’ which took place in the summer of 1979 (see Jo Meek, “Earth, Wind and Pyre,” and Joe Lapointe, “The Night Disco Went Up in Smoke”). Studio 54, the famous New York City nightclub that effectively stands for disco hedonism today, was open from 1977 until 1986. In this slideshow, you can see Andy Warhol partying at the club with Bianca Jagger, Liza Minelli, and Halston, as well as Diana Ross, Deborah Harry, and even a young Tom Ford.
For the purposes of this post, I’m going by my personal definition of disco style: glam evening wear that’s more party girl than society doyenne, all from the mid-’70s to the early ’80s. As I edited down my initial list I found the best designs shared elements like fluid draping and halter necks or one-shouldered bodices. Also, of the seven patterns, three are jumpsuits or give the impression of being a jumpsuit. Here’s my disco patterns best-of, ordered chronologically:
1. Vogue 2870 – Lanvin, 1973. Modelled by Karen Bjornson. Bjornson, who is virtually ubiquitous on later ’70s Vogue Patterns, was Halston’s house model. The (fantastic) photo makes the design look like a jumpsuit, but the pattern is actually for evening separates: palazzo pants with no side seams and a halter top with a wide midriff band that gives a cummerbund effect.
2. Vogue 2014 – Givenchy, 1978. Modelled by the young Gia Carangi, the late, queer supermodel who was brought back to the spotlight by the HBO movie Gia starring Angelina Jolie. This gorgeous evening dress has a crisscrossed halter neck and calls for an eighteen-inch tassel down the back. I have this one in my collection and plan to make it sometime in a silk or viscose jersey, but I think I need to learn to make tassels first.
3. Vogue 2173 – Chloé, 1979. No disco collection could be complete without this design by Karl Lagerfeld for Chloé. The one-shouldered evening dress comes with a reversible contrast shawl. I don’t know why, but to me this is the perfect late seventies-early eighties colour combination.
4. Vogue 2307 – Givenchy, 1979. Modelled by Tara Shannon. Another beautifully fluid Givenchy design, with the asymmetrical, one-shouldered bodice balanced by draping at the opposite hip. This is another one in my collection; I have a length of deep purple chiffon (originally used in a Hallowe’en costume) that’s just enough to make the cocktail version, but I haven’t yet found the occasion where I could get away with that much purple chiffon.
5. Vogue 2313 – Yves Saint Laurent, 1979. Modelled by Tara Shannon. A fabulous opera coat and evening dress ensemble with tie-halter and bow bodice. I love the sorbet colours, graphics and over-the-top drama of this pattern.
6. Vogue 2375 – Gianni Versace, 1980. Not a true jumpsuit as I thought (thanks, Dustin!) but a halter neck top and pants with tapered legs, side draping and matching jacket. Check out the illustration’s matching sandals and tone-on-tone, contrast satin cummerbund.
7. Vogue 1014 – Yves Saint Laurent, circa 1982. My notes say this is a top and pleated harem pants but, as the photo shows, it definitely has a jumpsuit effect when made in a single fabric and worn with the top tucked in. It’s interesting to see cuffed and pleated harem pants in the wake of the recent draped harem pants trend. Are we having a disco moment?