Designer Swimwear: Vintage Patterns

August 9, 2016 § 5 Comments

1980s Bob Mackie swimsuit pattern McCall's 7138 photographed for McCall's summer news flier

McCall’s 7138 by Bob Mackie on the cover of McCall’s news, July 1980.

It’s been another hot summer here in Toronto. One of my earliest blog posts, Heat Wave!, surveys vintage beachwear patterns. This summer, let’s take a look at a more elusive beast: designer swimwear patterns.

1950s

The earliest pattern I’ve seen for designer swimwear is Pucci’s strapless one-piece, McCall’s 3977. This pattern was available in Junior sizes only. The suit was lined in jersey, and could be made with or without the brightly coloured appliqués:

1950s Emilio Pucci bathing suit pattern McCall's 3977

McCall’s 3977 by Emilio Pucci (1956) Image: eBay.

1960s

From another Italian designer, Irene Galitzine, Vogue 1288 is a pattern for a bikini, dress, and hat. The bikini consists of a cropped, cowl-neck blouse and bikini pants with side ties:

1960s Galitzine bikini, coverup, and hat pattern Vogue 1288

Vogue 1288 by Irene Galitzine (ca. 1963) Image: eBay.

1970s

The 1970s were the heyday of designer swimwear patterns, often with a coordinating coverup, and always for stretch knits. Vogue 1416 is an early design by Donna Karan; from Anne Klein’s collaboration with Penfold, the pattern includes both a maillot and a halter bikini:

Vogue 1416

Vogue 1416 by Donna Karan at Anne Klein for Penfold (1976) Image: Etsy.

From Bill Blass, Vogue 1455 includes a two-piece swimsuit with bra top and bikini briefs:

1970s Bill Blass jacket, pants, and swimsuit pattern Vogue 1455

Vogue 1455 by Bill Blass (1976)

John Kloss licensed a number of swimwear designs with Butterick. This ad promotes his patterns with a poolside photo of Butterick 4808:

Butterick Kloss ad 1976

Butterick 4808 by John Kloss, Butterick advertisement, 1976. Image: eBay.

Another Butterick designer, Gil Aimbez, designed this one-piece bathing suit. Contrast bias binding outlines the cut-away sides and bodice seaming detail:

1970s Gil Aimbez swimsuit and coverup pattern Butterick 5449

Butterick 5449 by Gil Aimbez (ca. 1977) Image: Etsy.

Like the Anne Klein Penfold pattern above, this Penfold pattern includes both one-piece and halter bikini bathing suits. The one-piece and bikini top are cut on the bias:

1970s Penfold pattern Vogue 1655

Vogue 1655 by Penfold (ca. 1977) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Both Penfold patterns can be seen in a Vogue Patterns editorial photographed in Antigua:

1970s Anne Klein / Penfold halter bikini pattern by Donna Karan, Vogue 1416 in Vogue Patterns magazine

Beach beauty: halter bikini Vogue 1416 by Donna Karan at Anne Klein for Penfold, Vogue Patterns, May/June 1977. Model: Clotilde. Photo: Albert Watson. Image: the Fashion Spot.

Vogue Patterns MayJun 1977 Penfold

Vogue 1655 by Penfold with Vogue 9808, Vogue Patterns, May/June 1977. Models: Lisa Cooper and Clotilde. Photos: Albert Watson. Image: the Fashion Spot.

From spring, 1978, Vogue 1893 seems to have been the only Catalina pattern. Instead of a coverup, it includes three styles of bathing suit: low-backed view A, strapless view B with built-in boning, and blouson view C is a two-piece:

1970s Catalina swimsuit pattern Vogue 1893

Vogue 1893 by Catalina (1978) Image: Etsy.

The magazine recommended making the Catalina suits in Thompson of California’s “second skin Tic Toc warp knit polyester crepes” in various prints:

Vogue 1893 by Catalina, Vogue Patterns, May/June 1978. Image: Vintage Goodness.

1980s

From 1980, McCall’s 7109 includes three one-piece swimsuits by the Italian label Basile: a mock wrap, belted halter-neck and variations on the strapless suit with gathered bust (available in the shop):

1980s Basile swimsuit pattern - McCall's 7109

McCall’s 7109 by Basile (1980) Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Jerry Hall (right) seems to be wearing the view A style in this Basile ad photographed by Irving Penn:

vogue italia 1980 penn basile

Basile advertisement in Vogue Italia, 1980. Photo: Irving Penn. Models: Michelle Stevens and Jerry Hall. Image: the Fashion Spot.

Also from 1980, Bob Mackie’s strapless, colour-blocked swimsuit, McCall’s 7138, was photographed for the July counter catalogue and news leaflet (seen at the top of this post):

1980s Bob Mackie swimsuit and cover-up pattern McCall's 7138

McCall’s 7138 by Bob Mackie (1980) Image: Etsy.

1990s

Finally, this early ’90s DKNY pattern, Vogue 2897, is labelled ‘dress and bodysuit,’ but was photographed as beachwear:

1990s DKNY bodysuit and hooded dress / coverup pattern Vogue 2897

Vogue 2897 by DKNY (1992) Image: Etsy.

After a long swimwear pattern drought, the big pattern companies seem to have noticed the renewed popularity of sewing your own, custom bathing suit. For this summer, Simplicity reissued a 1950s bathing suit pattern, Simplicity 4307 / S8139, and The McCall Pattern Company has released a number of new swimwear designs, including one Vogue and two Lisette swimwear patterns.

Two designers with existing pattern licensing, Cynthia Rowley and Rachel Comey, both have swimwear lines. If we voice our support, perhaps we could soon see patterns for Cynthia Rowley surf wear and Rachel Comey Swim

Cynthia Rowley for Roxy wetsuit, 2010

Wetsuit by Cynthia Rowley for Roxy, 2010. Image: Pinterest.

Willy Somma self-portrait for Rachel Comey Swim, 2013

Willy Somma self-portrait for Rachel Comey Swim, T Magazine, May 2013. Image: nytimes.com.

Fifth Blogiversary + Giveaway

July 11, 2016 § 40 Comments

1970s Valentino pattern Vogue 2227 detail

Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

The PatternVault blog turns five today. (It all started with my first post, on Alexander McQueen for Givenchy.) To celebrate my blogiversary, I’m hosting a giveaway of one $25 CAD gift certificate for the PatternVault Etsy shop.

1990s Anna Sui dress pattern Vogue 1619 detail

Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

To enter, leave a comment with your answer to the question: Of the designers who have licensed (or otherwise authorized) sewing patterns, which one is your favourite?

The giveaway closes Sunday, July 17th at midnight EDT. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Monday, July 18th. Good luck!

Lagerfeld suit pattern Vogue 1719 detail w/ Kristen McMenamy

Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

Fifth Anniversary Sale!

May 28, 2016 § Leave a comment

Yves Saint Laurent Fall 1978 haute couture - Vogue 2183

Yves Saint Laurent haute couture in Vogue Patterns, May/June 1979. Photo: Arthur Elgort. Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

To celebrate the five-year anniversary of my Etsy shop, I’m having a sale: 30% off everything, including new items like rare 1920s Vogue patterns.

1920s evening dress pattern Vogue 9943 (1929)

Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

To receive the discount, use the coupon code YEARTHEFIFTH. The sale runs from today, May 28th, until midnight EDT on Friday, June 3rd. Your purchase helps support the research on this blog.

Happy shopping!

1960 bathing suit + skirt pattern Vogue 9995

Image via PatternVault on Etsy.

McCall Fashions for January 1918

February 11, 2016 § 4 Comments

Illustration of two women skating on the cover of a McCall Pattern Company news leaflet, winter 1918 (McCall 8125, 8130, and 8121)

McCall Fashions, January 1918.

Now that the temperature has dropped, I wanted to share a near-antique McCall News from winter 1917-18.

The cover illustration shows two women skating on a frozen lake. The fur-trimmed dress on the left is McCall 8125, with ‘aviation cap’ McCall 8130; the dress on the right is McCall 8121.

Inside the leaflet are some interesting patterns for war work. You may recognize overall suit McCall 7860 from my Great War post. Here we see the sleeveless view worn over a blouse:

World War 1 McCall 7860 overall suit pattern in McCall Fashions leaflet

McCall 7860 overall suit in McCall Fashions, January 1918.

‘The Conservation Uniform,’ McCall 7970, is a dress apron designated “Official Food Conservation Uniform; for the use of women signing the Conservation Pledge of the Food Commission.” (Often called a Hoover apron—for more, see witness2fashion’s post.) The cap and cuffs were included in the pattern:

World War 1 dress apron / conservation uniform pattern McCall 7970 in McCall Fashions leaflet

The Conservation Uniform: McCall 7970 dress apron in McCall Fashions, January 1918.

The ‘aviation cap’ from the cover is shown with McCall 7897, a ladies’ military dress with optional cape:

World War 1 patterns: Military dress McCall 7895 and aviation cap McCall 8130 in McCall Fashions leaflet

Military dress McCall 7895 and aviation cap McCall 8130 in McCall Fashions, January 1918.

Butterick Fashion News, February 1939

February 3, 2016 § 4 Comments

1930s sailing-themed illustration of Butterick 8245 (dress + shorts) on the cover of Butterick Fashion News

Butterick 8245 on the cover of Butterick Fashion News, February 1939.

It’s unseasonably warm here in Toronto, so instead of my planned wintry ephemera, here’s a resort-themed cover from the late 1930s.

Although it’s a winter issue, the February 1939 Butterick Fashion News shows a woman leaning off the rigging of a yacht. The pattern is Butterick 8245, a short-sleeved sports dress with matching shorts.

This is an English copy, from the John Lewis flagship on Oxford Street. On the back cover, the caption reads, “When your dirndl skirt blows wide open to the wind, let your admiring public see under it matching, brief new ‘baby shorts!’ Your shirt wears initials on its pocket and may have either the collarless or convertible neckline.” The pattern seems to call specifically for striped fabric:

Back cover of Butterick Fashion News, February 1939.

“Wear ‘baby shorts’ under your play dress… See our cruise girl on the cover.” Back cover of Butterick Fashion News, February 1939.

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.

Hat Trick!

January 13, 2016 § 12 Comments

It’s official…

Image via Vogue Patterns magazine on Facebook.

…this month marks the third time I’ve been featured in Vogue Patterns magazine. I’m the Star Blogger in the current issue, for February/March 2016.

Sarah Sheehan / PatternVault press coverage in Vogue Patterns magazine, 2011 - 2016

Thanks to Daryl Brower for the lovely profile. The issue is on newsstands now; you can see a digital preview here.

Update: see the Press section for the full article.

Zandra Rhodes pattern V1491 on the cover of Vogue Patterns magazine, 2016 spring preview issue

Vogue Patterns, February/March 2016.

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