Tag Archives: Christian Dior

A Passel of Patterns

“Just when I thought I had seen it all…” That was my reaction when not one, not two, not three, but four “new-to-me” vintage Vogue patterns came up for sale in the span of just a couple of weeks. Although I am always on the lookout for any pattern which might expand my collection in a meaningful way, I am, nevertheless, quite particular when it comes to buying new ones. I only want to add patterns which I think I will use at some point, even if it is just one detail which I might combine with another pattern. But I admit to having certain proclivities which seem to guide (no, sabotage) my pattern collecting – such as coats. I am complete mush in the face of a beautiful coat pattern! Another weakness is cocktail dresses and ensembles, especially ones with little jackets. Oh, I do love a classy cocktail dress! So, is it any wonder, that when these four patterns came “on the market,” I put considerable effort into trying to make them mine? And I hope that, even if you would never see yourself using a vintage pattern, you might still find much to admire in these beauties.

If you follow me on Instagram (@fiftydresses), you have already had a sneak peek at the first pattern.

The description reads: “Slim dress has flange with front draping. Narrow shoulder straps. Short jacket with below elbow length kimono sleeves has crossed over fronts. Left shoulder scarf is joined to front shoulder.”

Lots of pattern pieces as you can see in the diagram.

The front draping and the left shoulder scarf, adding back interest, put this ensemble on a notch well above ordinary.

This Vogue Couturier Design by Ronald Paterson was next to come on the market, at which time I happened to be traveling. Of course, that did not discourage me from keeping at the important business at hand, i.e. pattern collecting.  I felt very fortunate to have the winning bid, tucked in between airline flights!

This coat is a perfect example of what is known as a “dressmaker coat.”

I was initially drawn to the blouse pattern, which has such a demure, ladylike feel to it, but, of course, the coat with its lovely collar and flattering seaming completely won me over.

The description reads: “Narrow, semi-fitted coat has curved seaming at back of waistline. Small, shaped collar; long sleeves, four fake welt pockets [I can live with that, or perhaps eliminate them…] Fly-front, tuck-in blouse has kimono sleeves in front, set-in at back. Trim-stitching on shaped neckline and sleeve bands. Slim skirt.”

The long darts in the coat sleeves are an unusual detail, and notice the four neck darts on both the coat and the blouse.  These vintage patterns give so much useful information on the backs of their envelopes.

No sooner had the last pattern appeared than another one from the same decade came to my attention. From the House of Dior, this classic dress and coat have some notable stylistic details, such as the Dior darts in the bodice of the dress and the shoulder line extensions on both the dress and the coat.

The description reads: “Sleeveless, semi-fitted dress has back shoulder line extension and high round neckline. Ribbon belt. Slender coat has padded [YES! Padded!] band edging at side closing, around neckline and on long sleeves.”

If I make the dress, I will be cutting in the shoulders by a few inches and probably slightly reshaping the neckline. Also, the ribbon belt looks a bit too wide, but that will take some more thought. I think the coat is gorgeous.

When the final “new-to-me” pattern came up for sale, I was still traveling! I was getting proficient at keeping up with multiple bids, but the auction for this one was ending when I was going to be landing at our home city, so I resolved myself to losing this one. How lovely when I found out a few hours later I had, indeed, had the winning bid.

I have found that vintage Guy Laroche patterns often have a bit of “drama” to them. Certainly that is the case with this dress with its draped back.   That detail and the perfectly placed, half-looped bow at the shoulder make this design a winner in my opinion.

This pattern is copyright 1960, making it the earliest of these four patterns.

The description reads: “Slim skirt in two lengths joins the bloused bodice at waistline. Loose draped back section below shaped neckline. Three quarter length fitted sleeves and sleeveless. “ I quite like the options available: long, short, three-quarter sleeves, sleeveless. This dress could be quite fancy or understated, depending on the fabric and how it is made.

Once these patterns started arriving in the mail, I was, happily, not disappointed.  However, since I’ve been home, I have been trying to tow the line on any more pattern purchases after my flurry of activity! I have, instead, been trying to concentrate on a flurry of sewing. It’s great, finally, to be back in the sewing room. Dare I say (without jinxing myself) that I am excited to show you – soon – what I am working on?

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Filed under Bows as design feature, Coats, Cocktail dresses, Dior darts, Dressmaker coats, kimono sleeves, Mid-Century style, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s

What would Christian Dior do?

Without a doubt, the two dresses featured above left in my blog heading were inspired by the designs of Christian Dior.  This return to the feminine silhouette was led by Mr. Dior, starting in 1947, and it continues to influence fashion to this day.   In 1954, he published a small book entitled The Little Dictionary of Fashion, which was reprinted in 2007 by Abrams (and available at Amazon.).

Some of the language and expressions in this little book seem a bit old-fashioned, but it contains a wealth of information and advice.

It is really a combination of fashion and sewing terms, accompanied by his philosophy of life.   Here is a sampling of topics:

Bodices:  “… the most important part of any garment….”

Cosmetics:  “… play a very big part in the secret of beauty, but they mustn’t show…”

Emphasis:  “If you have a particularly outstanding feature it is always a good thing to emphasize it….  The whole of fashion is emphasis – emphasis on woman’s loveliness.”  [I think this is very sweet!]

Handbags:  “ A very important accessory and used with not enough care by too many women.”

Jackets:  “…must always be worn with a slim skirt…”

J is for Jacket!

J is for Jacket!

Key to Good Dressing:  “There is no key…  but simplicity, grooming and good taste – [are] the three fundamentals of fashion…”

This Dior outfit is described this way: "simple black suit, matching gloves and muff, and hat and scarf, in vivid cerise." Dressing beautifully, indeed!

Materials:  “You can never take too much care of the materials you choose to make a dress…”  [In this entry, he seems to be addressing the home sewer!]

Pockets:  “… pockets are very useful to help you to do something with your hands if you are embarrassed and don’t know what to do with them.”

The Way You Walk:  “… can make or mar your clothes – cultivate gracefulness.”

And my favorite:

Zest:  “…You have to live with zest — and that is the secret of beauty and fashion, too.”

Although Mr. Dior died in 1957 at the height of his career, his eponymous couture house has, as everyone knows, continued over the years under the direction of many different artistic directors.  Just this week the newest Creative Director for the House of Dior was announced.  Although I am a casual follower of current fashion (mostly to see how the vintage looks influence today’s looks), I was pleased to see that Mr. Raf Simons has been selected to head Dior.  I thought the designs he did for Jil Sander  over the past few years were among the most flattering that have appeared on the runway.  His selection is detailed in a fascinating article by Christina Passariello, which appeared in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, April 10, page B4.  (By the way, The Wall Street Journal has terrific fashion coverage and advice, specifically in the Thursday and Weekend editions, as well as other times.)

Here is what the cover of Vogue Pattern Book magazine looked like in October, 1957, the month and year of Christian Dior's death.

Mr. Simons’ first designs for Dior will debut in July.   I wonder if he is now asking himself “What would Christian Dior do?”

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