An Exploration into the World of Designer Sewing Patterns

Category: Marc Bohan

Robe de Mariée de Christian Dior: Autumn/ Winter 1979-80

 2545

I’ve always thought of this Christian Dior pattern as extremely elegant, and I just love the shape of that skirt! This design was taken from the Christian Dior Haute Couture collection for Autumn/Winter 1979-80, designed by Marc Bohan, and that pegged balloon skirt was a major theme in the collection and was used for evening gowns and cocktail dresses as well as for the traditional climax of an Haute Couture show, the bridal ensemble, translated into pattern form as Vogue 2545.

2545 Back View

I can’t seem to find 2545 in any of my Vogue Patterns magazines from 1979 and 1980, so I can’t identify the exact time of release, but I’m guessing it must have been sometime in 1980. 2545 must have been a  popular pattern as it was still available for purchase in the April 1988 store catalogue, if not later than that. I can see why it would have been popular, it is so beautiful, so classic, and a refreshing alternative to the usual A-line or column silhouette of bridal gowns. It has always reminded me of the gown worn by Grace Kelly when she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956, hers was designed by Helen Rose, a costume designer from MGM studios. It shares a similar silhouette with the Dior of 1979, both have a slightly similar bell-shaped skirt with deep tucks at the waistline, both have a fitted bodice with long sleeves and a high neckline, and both have a cummerbund to finish the waist.

Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco on their wedding day, 1956.

Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco on their wedding day, 1956.

Below are some images of gowns from the same collection that feature the bell-shaped skirt.

Advertisement: Dior, TARONI.

An advertisement for evening gowns from the Dior collection. Taroni was the supplier of the fabric. Notice how the two gowns on the left feature the same pleated-bow trim as 2545? The bow motif is also repeated as an accessory to be worn in the hair.

Three views of an evening gown by Dior.

Three views of the same evening gown featured in the print advertisement above. It is from the collection of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Two looks from the Christian Dior AW 1979-80 Haute Couture collection.

Two more looks from the collection. The evening gown on the right is also featured in the print advertisement above.

There is a video on youtube with brief clips of this Haute Couture collection by Dior and also of an Yves Saint Laurent collection from the same season, however I’m quite sure that the Saint Laurent collection is the Rive Gauche (prêt a porter) collection. The picture and sound quality isn’t great but the bridal gown of 2545 is easily recognisable, and also the gowns that precede it with the same shape of skirt can be seen. There’s a gorgeous lilac number in there, too. It’s interesting that both Dior and YSL show very similar trends for daywear in the form of plaid and tartan. I also love seeing the models doing their own make-up surrounded by the buzz of anticipation before the show!

Youtube clip of the Dior Autumn/Winter 1979-80 Haute Couture Collection.

Youtube clip of the Dior Autumn/Winter 1979-80 Haute Couture Collection. Terri May is modelling the bridal ensmble.(As in my Way Bandy post from last year, I apologize that I cannot embed videos into my blog posts, but click on the screen capture for a link to the youtube clip).

I’d be thrilled if someone asked me to make this dress for them for their special day. I would most likely soften the shoulder line by reducing the size of the shoulder pads, or for a wedding held during warmer weather I’d change the bodice to a strapless or sleeveles version  with a more open neckline. But really, the bodice could be adapted in almost any way as long as it was still close fitting, and the dress would still be amazing because it’s all about that fabulous skirt! I have a few copies of 2547 in my pattern collection, just waiting to be used some day…

Copies of 2547 can currently be found on eBay and etsy, including the etsy store ‘patternvault’.

UPDATE: June 14, 2013:

I recently acquired some Vogue Patterns magazines from 1981 and in the March/April issue I found Vogue 2457 included in a two-page bridal feature, along with an Emanuel Ungaro design. I’m not sure if this is the first intance of 2457 showing up in Vogue Patterns magazine, the only other issue could be the Septemner/October 1980 issue, which I don’t yet have in my library.

Here is the two-page spread (remember to right click and open in a new tab to see the larger version):

Brides In Vogue, Vogue Patterns, Page 72, March-April 1981.    Brides In Vogue, Vogue Patterns, Page 73, March-April 1981.

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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.