An Exploration into the World of Designer Sewing Patterns

Category: HALSTON

An Eye-Opening Trip to India.

From 'Jerry Hall - My Life In Pictures'.

Everyone’s already seen the spread of Jerry Hall in India from the May/June 1975 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine, right? Maybe not, but even if you have I’ve got an interesting piece of info here that you may not have seen before.

So before I show you the pages from the magazine I thought I would share this amusing excerpt from Jerry Hall’s book ‘My Life In Pictures’, published in 2010, where Jerry shares her memory of that trip to India during the early years of her modelling career. It’s amusing because the photo-shoot portrays a romantic view of India, whereas Jerry recounts some of the realities. Here it is:

“During this time I went on a three-week trip to India with Vogue Patterns and photographer Steve Horn. We did some enchanting photos but the dresses were pretty awful! I was happy to do it, because my mother used to make us dresses from Vogue patterns, before she discovered the Frederick’s of Hollywood catalogue. The dresses we took to India were very simple, which is why they put them in exotic locations, to make them look glamorous.

For one shot, Steve made me climb up onto the edge of a building and hang on. I really could have killed myself – we sometimes had to do crazy things while modelling.

We travelled around India by train and I remember breakfast was made by a guy wearing what looked like a rag diaper, squatting down scrambling eggs over a little fire. Those Indian trains were pretty primitive. We took about 30 trunks of clothes and had porters to carry them around. Everywhere we went we saw examples of extreme poverty. I’d never seen anything like it and it was a shock.

It was in India that I took up yoga for the first time. I’ve done it ever since; I made a yogacise video back in the eighties. I also tried vegetarianism in India, but after three days spent meditating and having a strange out of body experience I knew it just wasn’t for me – I’m Texan and I need my steak.”

I guess that after a few years of modelling in Paris, naturally, Jerry couldn’t help but notice the difference between the dresses made from ‘Very easy, Very Vogue’ patterns and the Haute Couture and designer prêt-a-porter outfits she’d become familiar with.

Below is the “Magic India” content from the magazine:

May June 1975 - Cover.

May June 1975 - Index.  May June 1975 - Editors Letter.

1  2

Below: ‘Caftan Magic’

Such beautiful backgrounds. The turbans and accessories also help to create the ‘magic’ of the caftans.

3  4

5  6

7  8

9  10

Below: ‘White Magic’

A romanticized and nostalgic take on train travel. No rag-diapers in frame, of course.

11  12

13  14

15  16

Below: ‘Moolight Magic’-

Evening ensembles with even more stunning background locations.

17  18

19  20

21  22

I wonder what Jerry thought about the one and only women’s designer pattern in the shoot, Vogue 1228 by Jerry Silverman (above, left). Probably just another dress, right? Anyhow, I’ve always liked that pattern, and the design is quite similar to a dress designed by Halston in 1972 (pictured below), except for a different front bodice, which came several years before the Jerry Silverman version. Vogue 1228 looks so good on the pattern envelope, and it’s likely to be the designer original that was photographed, which was usually, if not always, the case with designer patterns. The orange version photographed in India was made up from Qiana, a synthetic nylon jersey, and I suspect that the designer original was also made from Qiana because of an advertisement I found in an issue of L’Officiel from 1978 for Qiana featuring a dress by Jerry Silverman (see below). Also shown here is an ad from the same issue of Vogue Patterns magazine for Qiana with Vogue 1228 made-up from a soft pink color of the fabric.

1228  1228 Back Envelope.

Advertisement for Qiana featuring Vogue 1228 by Jerry Silverman.

An advertisement for Qiana, featuring a dress made from Vogue 1228 by Jerry Silverman with the nylon knit fabric. This ad was taken from the first few pages in the May/June 1975 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine.

An ad for Quiana with a dress by Jerry Silverman made from the nylon knit fabric, taken from L'Officiel USA, Holiday 1978, Volume III, No 7.

An ad for Qiana with a dress by Jerry Silverman made from the nylon knit fabric, taken from L’Officiel USA, Holiday 1978, Volume III, No 7.

Halston, 1972.

Halston’s design in silk jersey from 1972 preceeded the similar Jerry Silverman design by several years. That’s Karen Bjornson modelling on the right (Images taken from the book ‘Halston’ by Steven Bluttal, first edition from 2001 by Phaidon Press Ltd).

Below is the introduction of American designer Giorgio di Sant’Angelo to Vogue Patterns in Vogue Patterns magazine. The Sant’Angelo spread didn’t feature Jerry Hall but the other model from the India shoot (does anyone know her name?). The robes and two of the dresses were evidently photofraphed on the India shoot, but the other two dresses were photographed elsewhere with a different model. I love how the prints on the robes tie so beautifully with the colourful tiling in the background! I have the pattern for the robe in my collection and I hope to make it up some day as a gift for a friend or relative. I’ve been on the lookout for suitable fabrics when out fabric shopping (which isn’t often) and  I’ve been meaning to check-out the clearance bins at the local manchester shops for colourful and attractive flat-sheets to use, but I haven’t got round to it yet.

Sant Angelo Page 1  Sant Angelo Page 2

Sant Angelo Page 3  Sant Angelo Page 4

1232  1232 Back Envelope.

Here is another introduction of a designer in this issue of Vogue Patterns magazine, in this instance it is Polo Ralph Lauren for men! I get especially excited over designer patterns for men, as there weren’t that many ever produced compared to women’s. The seventies was the period when the most were produced, with designs by Bill Blass, Pierre Cardin, Givenchy, Dior, Saint Laurent, Valentino, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren.

Polo Ralph Lauren Page 1  Polo Ralph Lauren Page 2

1237  1237 Back Envelope.

I like the oversized belt carriers on the pants of pattern 1237. You can see another good view of the outfit for this pattern in the ‘Caftan Magic’ spread.

1238  1238 Back Envelope.

Anyhow, the India photo shoots make for a very special issue of Vogue Patterns magazine. There are some stunning photos here, and I’m not sure that any other location shoots by Vogue Patterns ever topped it.

Below is the front dust jacket of the book ‘Jerry Hall – My Life In Pictures’ by Quadrille Publishing Ltd, 2010 (ISBN: 978 184400 880 3). I obtained my second-hand copy very cheap on abebooks.com. It’s a very entertaining read with MANY fabulous images and is a more up-to-date and slightly more detailed version of Jerry’s ‘Tall Tales’ from 1985, which is also in my library (I love Jerry!).

'Jerry Hall - My Life In Pictures' Cover.

HALSTON – McCall’s 5103 Spiral Cut Dress, 1976.

 

Well, this isn’t a ‘Vogue’, it’s a McCall’s and it’s by one of my favourite designers of all time, HALSTON.  I don’t collect patterns of any brand other than Vogue, except Halston for McCall’s patterns. There are patterns which I like by designers who licensed their designs to other brands, such as Bob Mackie for McCall’s; or Rifat Ozbek, Carolina Herrera and Michael Kors for Style patterns, but I have to limit myself to Vogue, and Halston for McCall’s, to keep my pattern collecting at a manageable and affordable scale.

The original company founded by Roy Halston Frowick was named ‘Halston Inc.’ and it was acquired in 1973 by the company of Norton Simon Industries, which also owned the McCall Pattern Corporation, so it is no surprise that Halston’s designs were licensed to McCall’s and not to Vogue Patterns, as some of Halston’s hat designs had been in the 1960’s. According to the book ‘Simply Halston’, by Steven Gaines, Halston’s patterns were ‘enormously popular’.

Many of the patterns have very interesting and ingenious pattern cutting and construction techniques and reflect Halston’s quest for ‘seamlessness’ in his designs, meaning that unnecessary shoulder, side and armhole seams were often eliminated so that the garment’s lines would continue from front to back ‘unbroken’ to give the appearance of seamlessness. Often this type of seaming was used for bias-cut garments.

The McCall’s pattern 5103 is from 1976. It utilises the ‘tube’ cut which first appeared in Halston’s Spring 1974 collection. The ‘tube’ cut could allow a garment to be made completely on the bias, all in one piece of fabric, by spiralling a single seam around the body.

I think the way that the pattern is cut is the most interesting aspect of the design of McCall’s 5103, as the dress appears rather unremarkable in the photograph on the envelope. This may be partly due to the fabric choices and styling, and I also think it has something to do with the sleeves (on the short-sleeved version). Perhaps the short sleeves would look better if they were made shorter. Perhaps an experienced dressmaker could eliminate the sleeves all together and substitute them with narrow shoulder straps and bind the lower armhole edge. Also, to make use of the bias, perhaps a fabric with a very soft drape such as silk charmeuse, tissue faille, or satin would draw closer to the body for a more flattering and lustrous evening look. A stripe or linear print would emphasise the spiral seaming, as is utilised for version A on the pattern envelope. An ombre printed or dyed fabric with the gradation running from selvage to selvage would really look amazing!

Below: The back side of the envelope and scans from the instruction sheet of the pattern list showing the shape of the pieces, and the first steps of construction for the dress showing how the spiral seam is sewn.

 Below: A diagram illustrating the concept of the ‘tube’ cut; a photograph of Karen Bjornson (who was once Halston’s house model and a ‘Halstonette’) modelling a tube dress in a  Spring 1976 fashion show held on December 4, 1975; and a photograph of the same dress on a mannequin. It is interesting that McCall’s 5103 is copywrited 1976, the same year as the collection from which that dress came. (Source: Diagram is from the book Halston: An American Original by Elaine Gross and Fred Rottman, Photographs are from HALSTON by Steven Bluttal and Patricia Mears).

Images and information were sourced from the following books (all are out of print except for a reprint of ‘HALSTON’ by Bluttal/Mears):

   

HALSTON

Steven Bluttal / Patricia Mears

Publisher:Phaidon Press Ltd, 1st Edition (2001)

Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0714841064 / ISBN-13: 978-0714841069

(A reprint of this book is now available at amazon.com and I assume that the content is identical to the first edition)

Halston: An American Original

Elaine  Gross / Fred Rottman

Publisher: Harper Collins; 1st Edition (1999)

Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0060193182

 Simply Halston

Steven Gaines

Publisher: Jove (1993)

Paperback

ISBN-10: 0515110159 / ISBN-13: 978-0515110159

Stay tuned for future posts on other HALSTON for McCall’s patterns!