The Evolution of a Suit Dress, Part 4: An Appreciation of Jo Mattli, and Dress-making Days Commence

The New Vogue Sewing Book published in 1963 contained a “Couturier Supplement”. According to the Foreword in this magazine-styled book, “Only Vogue Patterns can bring you original designs from the Paris and International Couture houses, because of an exclusive arrangement with world famous designers.” One of the 17 designers featured in the supplement was Jo Mattli.

Designers in Vogue

Designers in Vogue-1

Jo Mattli is second from the left on the top row. Click on the photo to see the image up close.

A quick look at the two-page spread on these designers shows a veritable who’s who of fashion design, with names very much still known today. Except for perhaps Jo Mattli.   (Mattli was born Giuseppe Gustavo Mattli in 1907 in Locarno, Swirtzerland; he died in 1982 in England). He is absent from The St. James Fashion Encyclopedia, even though he was considered one of the “big ten” London couturiers in 1953, when London Society was busy readying for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Perhaps it was his move into ready-to-wear in 1955 that relegated him to lesser status among the world’s great couturiers. This did not keep Vogue Patterns from recognizing his wide appeal to stylish women who appreciated his attention to fine detailing, and his expertise in creating practical, wearable and charming dresses and suits.   As one of Vogue’s featured designers in their Vogue Couturier Design-labeled series, Jo Mattli made his mark. Indeed, even he recognized the value of being part of Vogue Patterns, saying “the royalties from these patterns had helped support his couture business” (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

The jacket I just completed (part one of a two-part jacket and dress ensemble) is the third Jo Mattli Vogue design I have sewn. Two years ago I made a suit from this pattern:

From Vogue's Designer series, ca 1970.

I would like to make this pattern again. The first time I made it, the fabric I chose was too heavy, but the fit and the styling were excellent.

Late last summer I made a cocktail dress from this pattern:

I still have plans to make the coat, to coordinate with the cocktail dress.

I still have plans to make the coat, to coordinate with the cocktail dress.

And now with three “makes” under my belt, my appreciation for Mattli’s design and construction sense is growing. Not only that, I realized after going through my pattern collection, that I have two more Mattli patterns, each of which also displays his characteristic and interesting seam detailing.

This is actually a one-piece dress, although it looks like it is a two-piece outfit.

This is actually a one-piece dress, although it looks like it is a two-piece outfit.

Dress Suit - red Mattli suit

Another beautiful suit!

While the Mattli-designed jacket in my suit dress ensemble is certainly the star of the outfit, I am hoping the dress will have its own charms. After being out of town and away from my sewing all last week, I have now been able to turn my attention to the dress part of the outfit. I believe I have successfully combined two patterns (sheath dress and collared blouse) to create – what else? – a collared sheath!

Dress for Mattli jacket

I was still adjusting the fit when I took this photo. Hopefully it will not look like a bag when I actually wear it!

After I had the muslin fitted and completed, I got the idea to make the end of the tab on the collar rounded, to mimic the curves on the jacket’s sleeves and on the jacket’s lower front edges.   I also had to take significant width out of the collar. I am hoping it will work and look good…

This shows the curved detail on the edge of the sleeve.

This shows the curved detail on the edge of the sleeve.

This shows not only the added curve to the collar end, but also how much width I had to remove from the collar pattern

This shows not only the added curve to the left collar end, but also how much width I had to remove from the collar pattern.

And here is the right collar section.

And here is the right collar section.

I  hope that Jo Mattli would approve of a dress being paired with his jacket. He would probably refer to it as a “slimline afternoon dress” were he alive. I have no doubt he created many such beautiful dresses in his lifetime.

[NOTE: Jo Mattli is the subject of a thesis by Dr. Caroline Ness entitled Famous, Forgotten, Found: rediscovering the career of London couture fashion designer Giuseppe (Jo) Mattli, 1934-1980.]

10 Comments

Filed under Cocktail dresses, Dressmaker suits, Jo Mattli, Suit dresses, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s

10 responses to “The Evolution of a Suit Dress, Part 4: An Appreciation of Jo Mattli, and Dress-making Days Commence

  1. Nancy Molitor

    All I can say is “wow” You are so creative! Nancy

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. Mary Lynn

    I so love your blog! Are you sure you aren’t Southern – you tell such interesting stories with such beautiful results. His patterns are really lovely and so timeless. Thank you for sharing.

    • I always like to say I am “half” Southern – my parents were Yankees, but I was born in NC and raised there. And part of the South will always be in my blood! Thanks so much for your heart-warming comment!

  3. Maybe i missed it in an earlier blog, but how did you happen to find this designer? Did you first discover him in the book you mentioned? Such great style lines.

    • I admired his designs back in the late ’60s and early ’70s when I first started to sew with Vogue Patterns. It is so wonderful that they are available again, albeit randomly, through eBay and Etsy!

  4. Don’t you love the way Vogue describes Mattli’s style? Swiss charm and Parisian technique, it’s all showing in your beautiful patterns!

  5. Marguerite

    Love the idea of the collared sheath! I think Jo would definitely approve. Sewing a as a teenager in the 60s, I admired the sophistication of the Vogue Designer Patterns although my sewing at that time was more in line with the Butterick Young Designers style! So happy to see you enjoying the beauty of those Vogue designs. I have purchased a ton of these (and others, yikes) on EBay over the past decade or so. Somehow, I don’t care if they get made up or not, I just love reading the instructions and studying the lines of the design. Like you, I find myself drawn to certain designers more that others. I have quite a few Molyneux dresses and St. Laurent coats with more that one Sybil Connolly in the mix! Jo Mattli really knew his way around a suit! My mom and aunts sewed and wore suits all the time. They always looked polished and put together. In the book The Lost Art of Dress, the author bemoans the loss of sophistication. Glad to see you are doing your part to bring it back!

    • I learned so much about fashion sewing from using the Vogue Designer patterns when I was in my early 20s. And I have distinct memories of the sophisticated suits and dresses from the 1950s which my mother made and wore.
      Glad you think Mattli would approve of a collared sheath to go with his jacket…
      Thanks, as always, for commenting!

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