An Exploration into the World of Designer Sewing Patterns

Category: Yves Saint Laurent

Couture Drama: Yves Saint Laurent, Fall/Winter 1979-80.

YSL Haute Couture AW1979-80

On July 25th, 1979, Yves Saint Laurent presented his Haute Couture collection for Fall/Winter 1979-80 at the Ritz hotel in Paris, culminating in a standing ovation from the audience. He offered the collection as “an homage to Serge Diaghilev and to his collaboration with Picasso”.

Later that same year, Vogue Patterns had drawn three looks from Saint Laurent’s Diaghilev/Picasso collection and delivered them in the form of three patterns: 2406, 2407 and 2408.

2406 - Front Envelope

2408 - Front Envelope2407 - Front Envelope

These patterns were first introduced to North American customers in the January 1980 counter catalog, just in time for the Fall/Winter 1979-80 Holiday season (which I believe would have actually been available in-store for December 1979, however England, and possibly other countries, had to wait one more month for the February 1980 catalog to reach stores).

Vogue Patterns  Catalogue, North America, January 1980.

The catalog offered ‘Blocks of Color!’ and ‘Couture Drama’ by way of Yves Saint Laurent.

Inside Front Cover, Page 1 - Vogue Patterns January 1980 Catalogue.Inside Front Cover, Page 2 - Vogue Patterns January 1980 Catalogue.

Just inside the front cover of the catalog, the Yves Saint Laurent originals are shown photographed on models Clotilde and Eva Voorhees, two top models of the period (Clotilde can also be seen on the pattern envelopes for 2407 & 2408. She was a Saint Laurent favorite for the runway and she even appeared in a television advertisement for the perfume ‘Rive Gauche’ in 1980). According to the ‘Guide for Fabrics and Accessories’ toward the end of the catalog, 2407 is shown with Yves Saint Laurent shoes, and 2406 with Yves Saint Laurent shoes and handbag.

The photographs evoke the excitement of heading out for a night in style to dinner, a fabulous party, or formal occasion. As long as you were quick getting the pattern and then even quicker at sewing, or getting someone else to make up your pattern, you could have been seen wearing the same style in the same season as one of Saint Laurent’s Haute Couture customers!

Nan Kempner at

Best-dressed American Nan Kempner wearing a Saint Laurent original.

Nan Kempner, a woman considered to be one of the best-dressed American women of her time, wore the design that Vogue 2406 was based on. This gown was made from contrasting blocks of black and white silk satin-crepe.

2406 - Front Envelope2406 - Back Envelope

This is a strikingly graphic design that seems to evoke the bold cubist elements of Picasso’s designs for the characters of the French Manager and the American Manager in the 1917 Ballet Russes production of ‘Parade’.

Picasso costume design for the Ballet Russes production of 'Parade', 1917.

Photograph of the ‘Manager français’ character from the original 1917 Ballet Russes production of ‘Parade’, with costumes and sets designed by Pablo Picasso.

Also, in one of Picasso’s sketchbooks from around 1916, as published in the book ‘Je Suis Cahier: The Sketchbooks of Picasso’ (edited by Arnold & Marc Glimcher), there are drawings of Harlequins and, although there was no Harlequin character in ‘Parade’, it is believed that these drawings reflect some of Picasso’s first ideas for the production of ‘Parade’. There can be seen a close resemblance of line between the Harlequin drawing below and the design lines of the dress from pattern 2406. Perhaps those sketches were of some inspiration for Saint Laurent?

Picasso, Standing Harlequin, pencil on paper, 1916 & YSL's 'Picasso' gown, as exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Drawing by Picasso of a standing Harlequin, pencil on paper, 1916, & YSL’s ‘Picasso’ gown, as exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The black and white ‘Picasso’ gown was photographed for Vogue Paris’ September 1979 issue and, as pictured below, for L’Officiel’s fall couture collections issue, No. 655, 1979.

Front Cover of L'Officiel No. 655, 1979.

Front Cover of L’Officiel No. 655, 1979, ‘Special Collections’ for Fall. Model wears Yves Saint Laurent.

L’Officiel de la Couture et de la Mode No 655, 1979.

As seen in L’Officiel de la Couture et de la Mode No 655, 1979.

The editorial shot below shows model Clotilde (once again) wearing the black and white ‘Picasso’ gown (I am unsure of the publication that the image originated from). Thanks to Supermodelicons.com for this image.

Clotilde in YSL.

The black and white gown has also been included as an exhibit in many of the retrospective exhibitions for the fashion career of Yves Saint Laurent, the first being the 1983 exhibition ‘Yves Saint Laurent’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, conceived and organized by Diana Vreeland – the very first of its kind at the Met dedicated to the work of one living designer. Others were the exhibitions ‘Yves Saint Laurent Style’ at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2008 and the de Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco in 2008/2009, and the exhibition ‘Nan Kempner, American Chic’, at the Met in New York in 2006/2007.

Exhibition 'Yves Saint Laurent Style' at the de Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, 2008-2009.

Installation from the exhibition ‘Yves Saint Laurent Style’ at the de Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, November 1 2008 – March 1 2009.

Photograph of an Yves Saint Laurent original illustration w. Silk Satin-Crepe Fabric Swatches

Photograph of an Yves Saint Laurent original illustration with silk satin-crepe fabric swatches, from the exhibition catalog ‘Yves Saint Laurent Style’, 2008.

Yves Saint Laurent  Black & White Silk Satin-Crepe Evening Gown, AW 1979-80.

As seen in the exhibition ‘Nan Kempner, American Chic’ at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, December 12, 2006–March 4, 2007.

On to Vogue pattern 2408: a suit of skirt and jacket that features contrasting blocks of black and royal blue.

2408 - Front Envelope2408 - Back Envelope

An almost identical suit to that of 2408 was also shown in the same collection, only it consisted of blocks of red and black, as seen below in a runway photo published in the October 1979 issue of German Vogue (modeled by Saint Laurent muse, Mounia).

Clipping from German Vogue, October 1979.

In the New York Times article ‘Diaghilev Inspires Saint Laurent’ published July 26, 1979, Bernadine Morris wrote:

“What is likely to hit the copyists’ market first are the two-fabric or two-color suits, which are not too subtle to be easily understood. A ribbed white wool jacket with black velvet collar and lapels is paired with a white skirt with velvet side panels. very slimming, those side panels.”

It is interesting that Bernadette mentions the two-fabric and two-color  combinations, as this is what Vogue Patterns selected from the collection – and for logical reasons. Usually the only means for most home sewers to recreate a designer outfit from a sewing pattern was through fabric and with trim, such as piping and purchased braid. Therefore, any designer looks that would involve highly skilled applications such as intricate embroidery/beading or applique wouldn’t have been commercially viable for a pattern company’s concern.

Also, Bernadette Morris mentions a white and black suit with “slimming” side panels to the skirt – these panels were repeated on the skirts of the blue/black suit of pattern 2408 and the red/black suit, pictured above. The white and black suit with velvet collar and lapels made the cover of Vogue Paris and was photographed for U.S. Vogue and for L’Officiel magazine.

Vogue Paris, September 1979.

Vogue Paris, September 1979.

U.S. Vogue, September 1979 & L'Officiel No. 655, 1979.

As seen in U.S. Vogue, September 1979 (Left) and L’Officiel No. 655, 1979 (Right).

Finally, there is pattern 2407: a romantic ensemble of full-skirted cocktail dress and jacket with the silhouette that was most dominant for evening in the collection – a full skirt of either below-knee or evening length, gathered in at the hip. The upper body for most evening looks was fitted and, if with sleeves, topped with a ‘puffed’ sleeve head. The contrasting blocks of this ensemble are more tonal by way of the luxurious textures of black velvet and black satin. The full skirt is reminiscent of the ballet tutu, and the corselet-style top and satin sandals with criss-crossed satin ribbons evoke the romance of the ballet.

2407 - Front Envelope2407 - Back Envelope

Below you will see some examples of other dresses from the collection that share similar elements to that of 2407, whether it be the shape of the full skirt or the shape of the bodice.

L’Officiel de la Couture et de la Mode No 655, 1979, B.

As seen in L’Officiel de la Couture et de la Mode No 655, 1979, this dress has a similar bodice and skirt shape to that of Vogue pattern 2407, however this dress has a skirt of glittering tulle that is suggestive of a tutu.

Yves Saint Laurent Black & Yellow Evening Gown of Silk Velvet and Silk Satin, AW 1979-80.

Yves Saint Laurent evening dress of black silk velvet and yellow silk satin, AW 1979-80. This dress was owned by Betsy Bloomindale and was donated to the FIDM in Los Angeles (Image will link to the FIDM’s blog article about the dress).

Interestingly, the three patterns 2406, 2407 and 2408 were not promoted in any issue of Vogue Patterns magazine (as most new designer patterns would have been) or, as far as I know, in any Vogue Patterns News flyer. Also, unusually, the pattern details and yardage requirements were not available in the counter catalog for these patterns and in their place the consumer was advised to ‘Please see pattern envelope for additional information’. Another point of interest is the ‘Vogue Customized Collection’, where an asterix next to the pattern number inside the catalog indicated that the pattern had to be specially ordered from those stores that had this label affixed to the front cover of their Vogue Patterns catalogs. This would most likely have been a policy for smaller or independent pattern retailers who wouldn’t have carried the full range of patterns. Directly below is an image taken from ebay of a copy of the January 1980 catalog with the ‘Customized Vogue Collection’ label affixed to the front cover.

'Customized Vogue Collection', Vogue Patterns Catalogue, January 1980.

This copy of the Vogue Patterns January 1980 catalog had a label affixed to the front cover stating “Customized Vogue Collection – WE CARRY VOGUE’S NEWEST AND MOST POPULAR PATTERN COLLECTION in all sizes – Other patterns with * may be special ordered”. This included Vogue 2406 and 2407.

2406 & 2407 - Pattern details unavailable.

Patterns 2406 & 2407: “PLEASE SEE PATTERN ENVELOPE FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION”.

2408 - Pattern details unavailable.

Again, for pattern 2408: “PLEASE SEE PATTERN ENVELOPE FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION”.

It is also interesting that the patterns were made available within the same season as the collection from which the designs were taken – usually patterns would be released the following season.

I must say that these patterns are some of my favorites – it is for the beauty of the designs and for the glamour associated with Haute Couture, and it is because the designs originated from such a special collection from one of the world’s most brilliant designers. What a treat that these patterns were ever produced!

To end the post, below is a photograph of Yves Saint Laurent himself inspecting a display of two of his ‘Picasso’ dresses, most likely photographed sometime in the early to mid 1980s. The black and white ‘Picasso’ dress of Vogue pattern 2406 can be seen on the right.

Yves Saint Laurent, circa 1980s.

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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

Logos.

I’ve never been a big fan of logos on clothing, especially when they are blatantly plastered on an otherwise ordinary t-shirt or sweat top, however I am comfortable with a subtle embroidered monogram or insignia on a pocket or a button, or when logos are applied in an imaginative or an amusing way.

I’ve put together some patterns that utilize a logo or a monogram as a design feature and I had to ask myself  “would I apply the logo if I were to make the garment from the pattern? Would I be trying to convince the world that it was a genuine designer garment?”.

If anyone asked I’d probably be proud to say that I’d made the garment from a vintage designer pattern and that I’d hand embroidered it myself to the pattern’s specifications. I think there’s a certain charm in that, and I’ll admit, I have actually done it.

For Christmas of 2011, I made my first nephew a pair of jeans from Vogue 2721, the Calvin Klein for kids jeans and skirt pattern, for his first Christmas at six months old. I made the jeans to be worn once he was a bit older, but the smallest size available is a 3, so to save having to wait until he was nearing three years old before he could wear the jeans I graded the size 3 down to a size 2 by using an Australian Standards childrens’ clothing measurements table. I used a light-weight dark indigo denim which I pre-washed for any possible shrinkage and also to eliminate any excess indigo dye. I used heavy beige top-stitching thread, especially to best show the Calvin Klein signature stitching on the back pockets!

Everyone loved the jeans, how could they not? They were so cute! My nephew is almost two years old now, and the jeans have been worn a few times already and they look great. And I must admit that whenever someone was told that I’d made them, I couldn’t help mentioning that “I made them from a vintage Calvin Klein for kids pattern from the early ‘80s”. I didn’t take any photos of the jeans when I made them or while they were being worn, but I’ll try to get some pictures the next time I’m at my Sister’s house and update this post with the pics.

Below is the Calvin Klein for kids jeans and skirt pattern 2721, which was available in size 3, 4, 5, 6, and 6x. It was also available as 2708 for girls in sizes 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14. These two patterns were released in 1981 and featured in the May/June 1981 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine.

27212721 - Pocket

Shortly before 2721, Vogue pattern 2442, the pattern for jeans and skirt for women by Calvin Klein, was released in 1980 and featured in the March/April 1980 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine. The kids’ and womens’ patterns are practically the same styles but proportioned accordingly, and the kids’ jeans and skirt have an elasticized back waist.2442

2442 - Back Envelope

Vogue’s 2442 had it’s own unique sizing chart which must have matched the sizing of the original Calvin Klein Jeans line. The Calvin Klein size 8 body measurements were equivalent to those of the Vogue Patterns regular size 12, so I suppose if you fit into a size 8 pair of Calvin Klein jeans then you would go and buy the size 8 Vogue pattern. Still, I’d bet that this created some confusion back in the day.

2442 - Pocket

The pocket pattern piece and the pocket construction instructions for Vogue 2442.

Below is one of the most famous advertising images from the 1980 Calvin Klein Jeans ad campaign featuring Brooke Shields as model, but below it is one from the 1979 ad campaign with Patti Hansen modelling. As the 1979 ad came out the year before Vogue pattern 2442 did, then it is more likely that we are seeing the same style of jeans on Patti as we are on the Vogue 2442 envelope, and the color of the denim and the stitching seems to be identical, as opposed to the jeans that Brooke Shields modelled which seem to be a lighter colored denim and a more beige or tan stitching.

1980 Ad Campaign for Calvin Klein Jeans with Brooke Shields as model.1979 Ad Campaign for Calvin Klein Jeans with Patti Hansen as model.

Next is a Vogue pattern for men, 2798 by Pierre Cardin. This pattern for mens’ pyjamas and robe features the stylised Pierre Cardin ‘P’ logo on the chest pocket of the robe.

2798

Vogue 2798 was released in the first half of the 1970s, I can’t say exactly when as I must not have that issue of the Vogue Pattern Book. Anyhow, the 1970’s was a time of mass expansion for, and worldwide licensing agreements made, by many fashion houses of the period, and probably most infamously by Cardin. His name and logo eventually appeared on not only clothing and accessories but almost any kind of object you can think of. Cardin was a very inventive Couturier of his day, most remembered for his ‘space age’ designs from the 1960’s, but he also designed some extremely elegant and unique clothes, particularly in the first decade of his career.

2798 - Pocket

The pocket pattern piece and the pocket construction instructions for the Robe of Vogue 2798.

Now for the Valentinos…

Vogue released three patterns of Valentino designs in 1972 that feature an optional monogrammed ‘V’ on a breast pocket as a design feature. 2743 and 2746 featured in the Early Autumn 1972 issue (U.K.). and 2779 featured in the Autumn 1972 issue (U.K.).

27432759    2746

The letter ‘V’ has been used as a graphic element in variations of Valentino’s logo over the decades, and also appeared in the form of hardware on belts, bags, and accessories, as a trim on clothing, and even subtly in the form of design lines in his clothing. A ‘v’ shaped waist seam was a common feature on many of Valentino’s designs from at least the 1960s to the 1980s.

2743, 2746, and 2759 pockets.

The pocket pattern pieces for Vogue 2743, 2746 and 2759, and the pocket construction instructions for Vogue 2743. The embroidery method is a satin-stitch and it is the same for all three patterns. Notice how the style of the ‘V’ varies between the three?

Valentino Garavani and his designs as published in HARPER'S BAZAAR, MARCH 1972.

This editorial photo of Valentino Garavani and two models wearing his designs was shot in the Valentino salon and was published in the March 1972 issue of Harper’s Bazaar magazine. The models are wearing short sleeved tops over blouses similar to those from patterns 2743, 2746 and 2779, only in more vibrant colors and without the monogrammed pockets.

 Last, but not least, YSL!

1836Close-up of the embroidered 'YSL' motif.

Vogue 1836 by Yves Saint Laurent is a little different to the previous patterns as the embroidery motif is printed as an iron-on transfer. The heat-transfer ink was printed onto regular pattern tissue and a total of four transfers, including one test transfer, were included. When I first became aware of this pattern on the internet I assumed that a ready-made embroidered iron-on/fusible motif was included with the pattern, but since purchasing the pattern I have evidently discovered that was not the case. If I’d paid close attention to the list of required notions on the back envelope I would have realized that the logo had to be hand embroidered from a skein of embroidery floss. Below is a scan of the iron-on transfers.

'YSL' Iron-On Embroidery Transfer1836 - Back Envelope

Below: The instructions for 1836 include much more detailed and explicit directions for the application of the embroidery than the Valentino patterns do, which is very useful to someone like me who has never embroidered before. The recommended application method of the monogram is chain-stitch embroidery.

1836 Instructions - Sleeve Embroidery.

It is odd that the placement of the YSL motif is not determined on the pattern tissue, as I did check the tissue of the sleeve pattern and there are no placement lines oe marks, and that it is up to the sewer to decide on the placement. I would find this very irritating if I were to make the jacket.

1836 Transfer Instructions.   1836 Embroidery Instructions.

Yves Saint Laurent, Haute Couture Fall/Winter 1984-85

Here is another example of the house of Yves Saint Laurent using its logo as a design feature, in this case it’s for an evening ensemble from the Fall/Winter 1984 Haute Couture collection, and the ‘YSL’ motif is embroidered with rhinestones and executed by Lanel.

Vogue 1836 was featured in the January/February 1987 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine, so it must have been designed by Yves Saint Laurent for 1986, about the same time that Karl Lagerfeld was emblazoning the number ‘5’ and double ‘C’s’ on anything and everything over at Chanel, making big designer logos fashionable. So we shouldn’t be surprised that this may have been happening at other fashion houses and that the trend even made its way into a Vogue designer sewing pattern. Here’s to hoping that anyone who made the jacket of 1836, and applied the transfer and embroidered the YSL motif, made it from a fabric and a level of skill worthy of bearing the YSL logo!

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/