An Exploration into the World of Designer Sewing Patterns

Category: 1960s

Designer Imitation: Vogue 7079 – YSL Pop Art Dress.

Life Magazine, September 2, 1966 Cover.

The cover of Life magazine, September 2, 1966, featuring one of Saint Laurent’s ‘Pop Art’ dresses.

The iconic ‘Mondrian’ dresses from Yves Saint Laurent’s Fall/Winter 1965/66 Haute Couture collection spawned not only knock-off ready-made dresses but also knock-off sewing patterns (not including Vogue 1557, which was licensed).

Possibly slightly lesser known are the Pop Art-inspired dresses from Yves Saint Laurent’s Fall/Winter 1966/67 Haute Couture collection. These wool jersey dresses came one year after the Piet Mondrian-inspired wool jersey dresses of 1965/66, and were inspired by the Pop Art movement and particularly by the artist Tom Wesselmann.

Editorial pages from Life magazine, September 2, 1966, featuring Saint Laurent's 'Pop Art' dresses.

Editorial pages from Life magazine, September 2, 1966, featuring Saint Laurent’s ‘Pop Art’ dresses.

As well as referencing the Pop Art movement, these dresses also reflected the mood for youthful colorful fashions as seen on the street, particularly in London. These dresses are a classic example of the influence of street fashion on the Paris Haute Couture of the mid 1960s.

One expects to see home sewing patterns influenced directly by fashion trends, but I find it amusing to see direct interpretations, if not copying, of particular distinctive designs that were not officially licensed to a pattern company.

Below is a page from the Fall 1966/67 Haute Couture collections issue of L’Officiel showing two colorful Saint Laurent Pop Art dresses, and directly below this is the envelope for Vogue pattern 7079, which bears a striking resemblance to the Saint Laurent dresses.

L'OFFICIEL DE LA MODE 533-534 1966

Vogue Pattern 7079, a straight color-blocked dress with a striking resemblance to Yves Saint Laurent's 'Pop Art' dresses from 1966/67.

Vogue Pattern 7079, a straight color-blocked dress with a striking resemblance to Yves Saint Laurent’s ‘Pop Art’ dresses from 1966/67.

I saw a copy of Vogue pattern 7079 on etsy a few weeks ago, it has since sold. It was obviously inspired by YSL’s Pop Art dresses, however it consists of a combination of design elements from both of the dresses pictured in L’Officiel – the shape of the high-hip seam is taken from the dress on the left, the shape of the lower-hip seam is taken from the dress on the right, as are the plain sleeves and neckline. After seeing YSL’s designs, to me the pattern’s design seems to be lacking something, it doesn’t seem balanced. Being such a simple garment shape, it would be quite easy to alter the pattern to incorporate a love-heart or circular motif on the bodice, or contrast cuffs and collar, or any combination of details to achieve a more authentic replica of the YSL look, don’t you think?

(Note: Vogue 7079 was not designed specially for knit fabrics, like the wool jersey used to make the Saint Laurent dresses, so the intended fit of the sewing pattern may be looser than that of the Saint Laurent dresses, and where darts have been used to fit Vogue 7079, there are likely no darts on the Saint Laurent dresses).

Back views for Vogue 7079

Back views for Vogue 7079

I wonder when this pattern was made available for sale? Does anyone know? The designs that were licensed to the pattern companies by the fashion houses would usually only appear in the pattern counter catalogs after the respective fashion season had passed, so it would be interesting to see if Vogue 7079 was available during the Fall/Winter season of 1966/67, allowing the home sewer to achieve a very trendy in-season Haute Couture fashion look without the prohibitive cost.

As a bonus, below is an image, also from L’Officiel, of hairstyles created by the famous hair stylist Alexandre of Paris specially for the evening ensembles of Yves Saint Laurent’s Haute Couture Fall/Winter 1966/67 défilé. The heart motif from one of the Pop Art dresses has even been carried through to the hairstyles – a ‘chignon en forme de coeur’.

Alexandre for YSL Hairstyles

Paris Enthusiasms: Introducing Pierre Cardin.

The April-May 1962 issue of the Vogue Pattern Book.
On the cover: Dior’s crepe day dress, Vogue 1100, which also comes with a coat (see the ‘Other Views of Patterns’ pages further down the post).

Here’s a look into the April-May 1962 issue of the Vogue Pattern Book. This issue marks the introduction of haute couturier Pierre Cardin’s designs to the Vogue Patterns catalogue. The Cardin designs are from his Autumn-Winter 1961/62 Haute Couture collection. Cardin’s first Haute Couture collection was produced in 1953 and by 1962 he was already well-established as an important couturier in Paris.

Below are the pages from the ‘Paris Enthusiasms’ segment from the magazine, beginning with the two Cardin patterns, and followed further down with the back-view drawings for all patterns featured in the issue. All of you pattern enthusiasts out there  may find this useful for dating some of your vintage Vogue patterns.

 

 

 

 

Vogue 1144 by Pierre Cardin; Vogue 1112 by Guy Laroche; Vogue 1133 by Lanvin-Castillo.
(How cute is that dress by Laroche?!)

 

Also relevant to this issue of the Vogue Pattern Book and the ‘Paris Enthusiasms’ segment is the 1963 edition of The Vogue Sewing Book. This edition has a strong focus on high fashion, with an opening chapter entitled ‘High Fashion and You’. The final chapter is a ‘Couturier Supplement’ and below you will find the couturier profiles from this section who, at that point in time, were licensing their designs to The Vogue Pattern Service. Directly after is a special segment entitled ‘Construction of a Paris Original’, which demonstrates  the construction process of the Pierre Cardin suit of pattern 1142 from the ‘Paris Enthusiasms’ segment above.

The Vogue Sewing Book, 1963 Edition.

Below: I like that this supplement tells us which couturier was leading which couture house, if not their own, at the time.

The Vogue Sewing Book, 1963 Edition, Couturier Profiles.  The Vogue Sewing Book, 1963 Edition, Couturier Profiles.

The Vogue Sewing Book, 1963 Edition, Construction of Vogue 1142 by Pierre Cardin.  The Vogue Sewing Book, 1963 Edition, Construction of Vogue 1142 by Pierre Cardin.

The Vogue Sewing Book, 1963 Edition, Construction of Vogue 1142 by Pierre Cardin.  The Vogue Sewing Book, 1963 Edition, Construction of Vogue 1142 by Pierre Cardin.

To finish, below you’ll see a few pages from the September 1961 issue of Harper’s Bazaar magazine, with designs by Cardin, Dior, Nina Ricci and Lanvin Castillo. The Cardin ensemble that Vogue 1144 is based on can be seen in the first page. You may even see a few of your other Vogue Paris Originals in the other pages… (hint: Nina Ricci).

Harpers Bazaar September 1961 - Cover

Harpers Bazaar September 1961 - Cardin  Harpers Bazaar September 1961 - Nina Ricci

Harpers Bazaar September 1961 - Dior  Harpers Bazaar September 1961 - Lanvin-Castillo

(Editorial pages from the September 1961 issue of Harper’s Bazaar courtesy of http://devorahmacdonald.blogspot.com.au)

Valentino: Alta Moda Primavera-Estate,1970.

2362  24032439  2381

Here are are four Vogue patterns of Valentino designs from the Alta Moda (Italian for Haute Couture) Spring/Summer 1970 collection. The photographs on all four pattern envelopes really were ‘Photographed in Rome’ as they were taken in the salon of the Valentino atelier, so the garments and accessories, including hats, shoes, earrings, and even hosiery, must be those which were originally shown in the fashion show. Even the model appears to be the same one that appears in some of the archival and editorial photos pictured below. The hat must have been the signature accessory for that collection as each and every look is shown with one.

I used to wonder whether the garments photographed for the pattern envelopes were the originals or the reproductions made from the Vogue pattern by Vogue Patterns. Evidently in this case the garments were the originals. It would have been most logical as the original samples had already been crafted and fitted to a model and Vogue Patterns wouldn’t have had to take the time and great expense of recreating the Haute Couture look by making their own versions, not to mention the delay it could cause in getting the pattern envelopes and promotional materials printed in time for the release of the patterns. I imagine that, at one time, that once the preffered looks of each designer’s collection were chosen by Vogue Patterns they would have scheduled a time to borrow the samples, and often  accessories, to photograph them on location or in the studio in Paris, Rome, London, New York, and Madrid (or sometimes generalized to ‘Spain’ on some pattern envelopes), just like the fashion magazines would have done. Anyhow, it would have been most impractical financially, logistically and time-wise for reproductions to be sent all the way back to Europe just to be photographed on location.

In this case, for the sake of the home sewer, it’s great to be shown the authentic put-together, head-to-toe look as intended by Valentino. I suppose, if budgets allowed, what the home sewer saved by making her own dress, she might have spent on some authentic Valentino accessories from the nearest department store to complete the look! Just look at all of those fabulous accessories strewn all over the runway in the photograph of 2381.

The four patterns were released toward the end of or after the passing of the 1970 Spring/Summer Season. Patterns 2362 and 2403 were featured in the August/September 1970 issue of the Vogue Pattern Book, and 2439 in the December/January 1970/1971 issue. Depending on fabric choice, patterns 2362 and 2439 may have had to wait until more appropriate weather the following spring to be worn, since they were either short-sleeved or sleeveless.

2362 - Back Envelope.    2439 - Back Envelope.    2381 - Back Envelope.

Above: Back views and information from the back side of the envelopes for 2362, 2439 and 2381.

2362 - Pintuck Instructions

The pintucking at the waist of 2362 is such an interesting detail and fitting technique, and can be seen in two other garment variations below. Incorporated with and hidden behind the pintucks of 2362 are triple contour darts on each side of the body, front and back, to provide the extra fitting required through the waist. The back instructions are not shown but the method is the same as the front. The side-front panels are eased into the centre-front panel at bust level to provide extra fitting for the bust.

Below you will find some images of the Valentino Alta Moda Spring/Summer 1970 collection from the book ‘Valentino: Thirty years of Magic’ from my personal library of fashion books (details for the book can be found at the end of the post). I get such a thrill from recognising the designs of vintage patterns in the history books!

Two looks from the Valentino Alta Moda Spring-Summer 1970 Collection.

The pintuck detail of 2362 was also used for the coat and jacket of the above two looks from the Valentino Alta Moda Spring-Summer 1970 Collection.

Two more looks from the Valentino Alta Moda Spring-Summer 1970 Collection.

Two more looks from the Valentino Alta Moda Spring-Summer 1970 Collection. On the left, the model portrays a very fashionable mother!

Two looks featuring animal prints from the Alta Moda Spring-Summer 1970 Collection. Photo by Oliviero Toscani.

Two looks featuring animal prints from the Alta Moda Spring-Summer 1970 Collection. Very few could afford to dare to picnic and risk grass stains and spilled wine while wearing Valentino Haute Couture!
(Photo by Oliviero Toscani).

Valentino Atelier, 1967.

The salon of the Valentino atelier, as can be clearly seen in the background of the photographs for patterns 2362 and 2381, however the image above is a photograph of the Alta Moda Fall-Winter 1967-1968 collection.

Photographs other than the pattern envelopes were sourced from the book ‘Valentino: Thirty years of Magic’ by Marie-Paulle Pellé/ Patrick Mauriès, published by Abbeville Press, June 1991 (out of print), ISBN: 1558592377. It was published to coincide with the exhibition of the same name in 1991. This book should not be confused with the Rizzoli publication of the same name which is a different book altogether.

Valentino: Thirty Years Of Magic.

YSL For Dior, Lagerfeld For Patou, Autumn/Winter 1959-60.

1954 Wool Secretariat fashion Design Competition.

Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent and Colette Bracchi (far right) with models wearing their winning designs for the 1954 International Wool Secretariat fashion design competition.

Vogue Pattern Book, December 1959 - January 1960.

December 1959/January 1960 (U.S.) issue of the Vogue Pattern Book.

I’m aware of at least one other blog that has covered this topic before me, but I just can’t resist adding it to mine!

A very curious coincidence occurs in the December 1959/January 1960 (U.S.) issue of the Vogue Pattern Book. It features a brief profile of the Haute Couture House of Jean Patou, with Karl Lagerfeld as the recently-appointed head designer, and also features the introduction of three patterns featuring designs from the House of Christian Dior, whose head designer at that time was Yves Saint Laurent.

Dior Feature Article.

The article on the Christian Dior patterns, as it appears in the Vogue pattern Book for December 1959 – January 1960 (remember to click on the images for an enlarged version to read the article).

February 1960 Store Catalogue.

The Dior designs for Vogue Patterns, as they appeared as a feature in a February 1960 issue of the Vogue Patterns store catalogue.

1470  1471  1472

Above: 1470, 1471 & 1472 from Christian Dior, designed by Yves Saint Laurent.

Jean Patou profile featuring Karl Lagerfeld.

The article profiling the house of Jean Patou, featuring Karl Lagerfeld as the recently-appointed head designer, as it appears in the Vogue Pattern Book for December 1959 – January 1960. I’ve always admired Lagerfeld’s designs, from past to present, for his use of seaming and design lines, and silhoette, and for the sense of relevance to the present that is always evident in his work.

1461  1466

Above: 1461 & 1466, two of the three patterns from Jean Patou, designed by Karl Lagerfeld, as featured in the December 1959 – January 1960 issue of the Vogue Pattern Book. 1463, a pattern for a dress in two variations, is the third pattern for which I can not find any further information.

Paris Originals Line Drawings.

Line drawings for the front and back views of all the Paris Originals featured in the December 1959 – January 1960 issue of the Vogue Pattern Book.

 I’ve been a fan of Yves Saint Laurent since I first became interested in fashion design, and I have come to admire Karl Lagerfeld the more I have come to know of him and his work.

Now, as anyone who has read the book The Beautiful Fall (or Beautiful People for the French edition) by Alicia Drake will know, both Lagerfeld and Saint Laurent had quite similar career beginnings and aspirations, they both started their fashion careers at about the same time, and, as the book suggests, they had a long-running sense of competition and rivalry in their lives and in their careers. It truly is a fascinating book for anyone who is interested in the two designers, or in fashion, period.

According to The Beautiful Fall, in 1954, Saint Laurent and Lagerfeld were both studying at the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne in Paris, and this is where they first met, however they were not in the same class but became friends and were for some time after.

In the same year they both won prizes in the 1954 International Wool Secretariat fashion design competition, Lagerfeld won the coat category and Saint Laurent won first and third prizes in the dress category.

Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Balmain were in the jury, and the previous year Christian Dior had been a judge. I believe that Saint Laurent’s winning design was made by the house of Givenchy, but Lagerfeld’s was most certainly made by the house of Pierre Balmain. Lagerfeld was subsequently offered a job at the house of Pierre Balmain and joined as an apprentice in 1955. After four years he left Balmain to take up the position of designer at Jean Patou in 1959.

Saint Laurent joined the house of Dior as an assistant in the studio of Christian Dior in June of 1955.

After the death of Christian Dior in 1957, the first collection solely designed by Saint Laurent was for  Spring/Summer 1958 and was shown in January 1958. It became known as the ‘Trapèze’ collection, which was the name given to the silhouette that was chosen to be the fashion message of the season from the house of Dior.

The first three Christian Dior designs on offer from Vogue Patterns are from the Fall/Winter collection of 1959-60. The bubble/bloused  ‘hobble’ skirt silhouette of the dress of 1470 was a recurring theme in that collection and there were many variations.

Saint Laurent’s sixth and final collection for Dior was the infamous so-called ‘Beat’ collection for Fall/Winter 1960-61 which was shown in July of 1960. The collection was badly received by the Dior management, and soon after they breached their contract with Saint Laurent and replaced him with Marc Bohan as head designer in October of 1960.

It is interesting to note that Marc Bohan was working for the house of Jean Patou as a designer when he was contacted by Christian Dior in 1957 with the offer of a job in the design studio, and that Lagerfeld went on to work as a designer at Patou two years later in 1959.

There’s a certain symmetry to Lagerfeld’s and Saint Laurent’s starting point in fashion, first meeting and studying at the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne in Paris, then their success with the 1954 International Wool Secretariat fashion design competition, and then working for Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain, who had themselves worked together at the house of Lucien Lelong at the beginning of the 1940s and at the beginning of their careers. So what a coincidence it is that we should find these two articles featuring the designs of both Lagerfeld and Saint Laurent in the same issue of the Vogue Pattern Book!

Harper's Bazaar, September 1959.

Above: Audrey Hepburn wearing a Christian Dior dress (designed by Yves Saint Laurent)at Maxim’s, photographed by Richard Avedon for Harper’s Bazaar (September 1959); with her are Art Buchwald and two other models wearing gowns by Pierre Balmain and Jean Patou (it is most likely that the Jean Patou was designed by Karl Lagerfeld).

Patou 2  Patou 1

Above: As featured in the December 1959/January 1960 issue of the Vogue Pattern Book, are the Vogue patterns from Jean Patou: 1463 (left) and 1461 (right). Notice how 1463 has a horizontal band toward the hem which is quite similar to the Christian Dior design from 1470, minus the bubbled skirt. The model wearing 1461 on the right is holding the coat that is included in the pattern, in this case made from some kind of fur or faux fur.

V&A YSL for DIOR, Autumn/Winter 1959-60.   1959-60

Above: Two designs from the Christian Dior Fall/Winter collection of 1959-60 which also feature the bubble skirt silouette of Vogue patern 1470. The image on the left is of a dress gray wool flannel and is from the collection of the V&A museum in London. The image on the right is of a dress with matching jacket and contour belt of black silk faille and long scarf of black satin, as it appeared in the book Yves Saint Laurent, published by the Metropolitan Museum  of art, new York, in 1983 as the catalogue of the exhibition of the same name held at the Met in 1983. The ensemble is also held in the collection of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

As a side note, before I purchased the U.S. issue of the Vogue Pattern Book for December 1959 – January 1960 on eBay, I had already purchased the U.K. issue and it did not include the Christian Dior feature or any reference to the Jean Patou pattern 1463, however it did still include the feature on the house of Jean Patou and the patterns 1461 and 1466. All I can assume is that there was a time difference or delay in the release of certain patterns from the U.S. to the U.K., or that it may have been a licensing issue.

Click to find this book at abebooks.com.  Click to find this book at abebooks.com.  Click to find this book at abebooks.com

The Beautiful Fall (ISBN-13: 9780747585466) or Beautiful People (ISBN-13: 9782070402595, in French);

 Yves Saint Laurent, ISBN:

0500273782 (Thames And Hudson, softcover, as pictured above)

0870993607 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, hardcover)

0870993615 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, softcover)

0517553090 (Random House, hardcover)

All books may be purchased at abebooks.com or amazon.com.

‘From The Yves Saint Laurent Fabric Boutique’.

Here’s an interesting piece of home-sewing history.

I first became aware of ‘The Yves Saint Laurent Fabric Boutique’ when I discovered an old newspaper wire-photo on eBay, which I bought. The photo was originally printed in the Chicago Daily News and is dated March 2, 1970 on the back side. It shows YSL fabric bolts, a YSL Vogue pattern (2216) and a sew-in label pinned to one of the fabric bolts. The photograph is pictured below.

I have since searched for more information online regarding the YSL Fabric Boutique but haven’t had much success apart from a couple of articles and advertisements from 1970 newspapers on a ‘google news’ search.

From what I‘ve read, It seems that the fabrics were sold in fabric stores and fabric counters in department stores beginning in late 1969 or early 1970, and as far as I can tell, only within the United States. Fabric bolts were displayed on and around chrome steel and glass tables in, it seems, an island display concept within existing fabric stores. A ‘pattern book’ released with the fabrics by YSL was a guide recommending how to mix and match certain sewing patterns with the fabrics from the range. Each purchase of fabric came with a cloth label to sew into your new creation. What a novel idea! You could buy a YSL Vogue Paris Original pattern and make it up in a YSL approved fabric, and then insert a YSL cloth label into your creation. In one article, not included here (Fort Pierce News Tribune, December 03 1969, page 7), it states that the fabrics are made by Burlington Industries.

I wonder how long the business operation lasted and whether it was an  over-all success?

Click on the images to enlarge them and read the articles for yourself. I would absolutely LOVE to get my hands on one of the original YSL sketch/pattern books!

If anyone out there has further information on this topic then please share!

A wire photo originally published in The Chicago Daily News on March 2, 1970.

The newspaper clipping attached to the reverse of the wire photo reads:
“Destined to be one of the most popular selections from the boutique, this brown-and-beige plaid with subtle orange stripes is visualized by St. Laurent as a versatile double-breasted coat, the pattern No. 2216. A washable blend of 50 per cent polyester and 50 per cent cotton, it has an invisible vinyl coating and sells for $4 per yard.”

2216

Vogue Paris Original 2216, the same pattern pictured in the black and white photograph above.

Below are the promotional news articles and advertisements that were published to anounce the release of the Yves Saint Laurent Fabric Boutique.

Cape Giradeau Southeast Missourian News Article.

A news article about the YSL Fabric Boutique, published in The Cape Giradeau Southeast Missourian newspaper, December 11, 1969. Notice the plaid coat on the model, it’s made from the same fabric as pictured on the fabric bolt in the wire photo above, second image down from the top. Also, the coat seems to be of the same design as Vogue pattern 2216, and was likely made from the pattern for promotional purposes.

Another article about the release of the Yves Saint Laurent Fabric Boutique, published in The Los Angeles Times newspaper, May 17, 1970.

YSL Fabric Boutique at Gimbels

Part of a full-page ad for Gimbels department store, published in The Milwaukee Journal newspaper, February 3, 1970.

An advertisement for The YSL Fabric Boutique at The Chandlers, does anyone know if this was a fabric store or a department store? Published in The San Mateo Times, February 3, 1970.

 …And just for fun, a while ago while on a google images search, I found these images of a vintage home-made dress that was for sale at Swank Vintage. Because the dress has the label sewn inside, I’m assuming that the fabric is from the YSL Fabric Boutique (thanks to Swank Vintage for approving the use of their images).

I can’t identify the pattern used (and if it’s a Vogue designer pattern, then usually I’m quite good at picking them!), can you?

YSL Fabric Boutique Garment from 'Swank Vintage'.

If you’re interested in Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue Patterns, or sewing then I recommend these blogs which I follow:

http://pacoperaltarovira.blogspot.com.au/

http://blog.pattern-vault.com/