I know I am not alone in spending obscene amounts of time hunting vintage patterns down online. I have, do and will spend entire nights crawling the interwebs ogling what has come to be my favourite sub-genre of the vintage pattern: Vogue Paris Originals. Vogue started printing these in 1949, featuring straight-from-the-muslin reproductions of Balmain, Lanvin and Schiaperelli, among others. For most women in the 50's and 60's, the only way to experience the physical bliss of a Lanvin design was to make it yourself. The early designs were couture quality, and many women took lessons to learn how to reproduce these garments since many of the patterns were too advanced for the average home seamstress.
My favourite era for Vogue Paris Originals is definitely the 60's. The styling of the models on the envelopes is kind of awe-inducing and it's rather fascinating to see how incredibly timeless a lot of the designs are. Especially interesting is realizing how current designers for these major houses have the most incredibly deep and beautiful archives to dig through for constant inspiration.....
What follows is a very image heavy selection of some of my favourite patterns from this period. Try not to drool on your keyboard (all images taken from the Vintage Pattern Wiki).
Let's start with some very of the moment black and white colour blocking:
Hey, I love your Oompa Loompa tan and your little graphic sheath dress.
Super slimming side panels. Givenchy was no fool.
Oh, hello you sweet color-blocked miracle. Does anyone else want to wear a jaunty white beret & gloves everywhere?
This is maybe a little crazy but loving The Liza Minnelli-esque model. Mod Maid!
!!!! This only very slightly reminds me of this Victory Patterns dress. That topstitching! Those hats! The Liza Minnelli doppelganger!
Now, how about some little black dresses?
Classic 60's sack coat and LBD. So Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Pretty simple silhouette but I love how exaggerated the A-Line is. Again, it's the styling on that model that kills me. She could be pouting at us from last month's Vogue magazine.
Girl, I'd be laughing crazy too if I was wearing this classic Jackie-O number.
If I had to choose favourites? Don't make me reenact Sophie's Choice. But this look?
This look I could live with the rest of my life. That belt, that hat, those gloves.
If you look up "chic" in the dictionary this lady is the one who blithely looks
the other way when you drool on her picture.
Classic silhouette but the cowl back and the detail under the bust are spectacular.
Some 60's Grecian magic.
And now for some little white dresses:
This is so simple and architectural and NOW.
Loving the asymmetry of this.
Lanvin was really brilliant at the super simple but supremely elegant sheath, wasn't she?
Oh, hello LOVER. Doesn't this cape remind you of Gwynny P's Oscar stunner? And how perfect is that dress with the cleavage slit? (Forgive me but this may actually be 70's, not 60's).
The dress for the most sophisticated kangaroo on the block. The neckline and detailing on this are just so fabulous. And is that Debbie Harry on the right??
You really must have magnificent arms for this number, but if you have magnificent arms I think you have the perfect dress, no?
If I ran a brothel this is what I would wear.
And neither black nor white, but simply marvelous:
Pierre Cardin you brilliant maniac. That coat/cape/miracle needs to be on my body IMMEDIATELY even if it means never carrying a purse or being able to freely move my arms. That is a cocoon of immobility I will happily live in forever.
DO I EVEN NEED TO COMMENT ON THIS?? DO I??? Except maybe that Zara kind of knocked it off. I think sunshine yellow and silver sequins would be on my national flag.
Such a cool, weird, awesome shape. In neon pink or some other shocking colour? YES.
Hey Yves, that crazy Amish bonnet is a little kooky but I forgive you because of those sleeves and that bow in the back.
If you needed more evidence that Pierre Cardin was THE SHIT, boom. Here you go.
And finally.... wow. Just... wow. I think if you wore that exact outfit on the left in NYC today you'd be on every street style blog in the world. It's basically what I wanted to look like as a grownup working lady when I was a kid looking through my step-mom's Marie Claires. Sigh.
Apologies for the epic post but i think it was worth it. This is only a small portion of the Vogue Paris Originals released in the 60's but it's pretty staggering to see these all together. I guess it's apparent I have a real yen for the sleek, modern and streamlined sheath dresses that were so iconic of the decade - it's the career girl in me. The architectural hats and gloves are making me rethink everything I know about accessorizing. I do so love a New Look tiny waist/full skirt combo but there is something so optimistic, fresh and forward thinking about the 60's silhouette; I can just imagine the liberation and sense of freedom women of the time must have felt when they could put away their girdles and bullet bras and reach for something that they could move and make change in.
Hope you enjoyed this little piece of pattern history!
Update: Thank you to Amy for reminding me of this amazing website. This link will actually explain the history of a few of the garments above! (SEWING BLOGGERS ARE THE BEST).