I moseyed over to the website yesterday, completely unaware that you'd posted your fall 2012 patterns. Ignoring the voice that said I wouldn't be getting back to work for at least half an hour, I clicked on "new sewing patterns" only to be confronted by THIS:
I don't know how long I just sat there, confused. Why were these women contorting themselves into pretzel shapes in high rise windows? When I finally got around to exploring the new designs further, I understood.
They make me want to jump out a window, too.
I can usually count on Vogue for a bunch of squee-inducing patterns and a couple of "what the hell is thats?!", but they changed things up on me this time. What isn't icky is just plain boring and/or made in the worst fabrics imaginable. Take a moment to remove any sharp implements from your reach -- I don't want to be responsible for you poking out your eyes -- and let's delve in further, shall we?
Let's start with 1312, the dress modeled by a woman squatting over the New York skyline. It's actually pretty tempting when you check out the line drawing:
That flared skirt looks really fun to wear...although the fact that it flares out from a raised waistline may make the whole thing too wide to be flattering for me. Would it make me look like a giant pastry? Oh, and did you know that the bodice is in a contrast fabric? No, neither did I -- because there's nothing like black silhouetted against a window to show details! GOOD ONE, VOGUE!
The real criminal in this lineup is 1323. Let's take a look:
The shirt is fine, but the pants -- oh, my. Elastic at the waist and the cuffs? Side pockets and a fly front? Made in a shiny black satin? Why why why? I suppose they're comfortable, but you can say the same thing about pajama jeans and snuggies. Perhaps someone will look adorable in them. That person will not be me.
In 1322 we have Donna Karan's Frankenstein creation: the blazer cape. Really, it looks like two men's suit jackets cut up and refashioned into one garment, and all I could think of was the time in high school when I put four-inch shoulder pads into a men's pajama top to emulate David Byrne in STOP MAKING SENSE. (Yes, four-inch shoulder pads. It was the 80s.) Why go to all that work tailoring to be asked, "Hey, did you cut up two coats and sew them together? Cool!"
As for the rest of the window jumpers...1315 and 1314 are perfectly serviceable knit dresses, though not that exciting, so I guess I see why Vogue decided to have the models contort themselves. 1324 is interesting, though I don't suggest making the blouse in a flesh tone -- unless you're going for the "I had spinal surgery and they didn't bother closing up" look:
Does it get better once we get out of the high rise windows? No. No, it does not. I present to you Vogue 8832:
That's -- what? Huh? Maybe it looks better from another angle.
No. It does not.
Who are you glaring at, Vogue model? The designer? Your agent? The manufacturer of that strange fabric?
She wasn't the only unhappy model. Look at the woman forced to wear 8830. The design itself isn't bad, but that FABRIC!
Unfortunately, making that face didn't help her any. They put her in equally hideous fabric for 8840. I like bright colors, but both the pants and shirt in this print are a bit much:
I'll skip the only slightly odd Sandra Betzina vest and coat and the baffling Katherine Tilton shirt pattern and end with 8843, the Marcy Tilton bag pattern:
All three views show a woman carrying a banana leaf above her bag. I have to say, I haven't seen this before.
New Yorkers: is this a thing the rest of us don't know about? I mean, here in L.A. there's a neighborhood where the hipsters are wearing top hats, so I suppose anything's possible.
Oh, Vogue. You've come out with some scrumptious dresses for spring...and then there's your new pattern for men, 8720. This goes straight into the Department of WWTT (What Were They Thinking?):
Was it really necessary for the coat to be buttoned all the way to the neck? Did the model need to shove his hands forearm-deep into the pockets? And why, in the name of all that is holy, did someone decide to throw sunglasses into the mix?
I don't see this and think, "My goodness, there's a stylish man!" I think "That guy's getting ready to expose his junk. Remind me not to look his way."
As you probably know, Vogue released their new spring patterns a week ago. I don't know about you, but I found several drool-inspiring dresses. There are the two great Donna Karan offerings, 1219 and 1220, which both feature lovely details. I'm also lusting for 1233, but you all know what a sucker I am for big collars and 70s-inspired fashion.
Which to choose for eye candy status? In the end I decided upon 1232 by Pamella Roland. Check it out:
I love the curved seam along the front and the asymmetrical hem. The flower's cute, but I think the dress would be just fine without it. What I adore most of all is the ruffle at the bottom. It manages to be sophisticated rather than little girly, and it seems like it'd be an awful lot of fun to wear.
By the way, I found a photo of it in her spring collection -- quite pretty, don't you think?
Welcome to Unfortunate Fashion Friday, a new feature here at PJ where I share the odd, the horrifying, and the just plain wrong. (Let me state right at the outset that I'd love nothing more than to be proven wrong about my UFF choices -- so when one of you makes an amazing version of something I've picked, send it my way!)
On to the mockery. The Big 4 are busy releasing their new spring lines. There's some great stuff out there, and then there's McCall's 6280:
Those of you who grew up in the 70s & 80s like I did probably remember the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups ads that purported to tell the creation myth of Reese's yummy wonders. A librarian might be standing on a ladder eating a chocolate bar, only to accidentally drop it into a patron's open peanut butter jar after he bumped into the shelves, or a quarterbacker running down the field might ram into a cheerleader and the same chocolate bar/peanut butter jar confluence would happen. (No, they never explained why people were walking around eating from open peanut butter jars.) The point is, the wacky collision would always result in one person exclaiming "You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!" to which the other would reply "You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!" Then both would realize that the two flavors were fantastic together.
Here's an example:
Which brings us back to that dress.
It's never good when you look at a design and your first thought is "What the hell happened there?" Really, I look at this dress and all I can do is envision the wacky, Rube-Goldbergesque collision at McCall's HQ that caused two halves of cute dresses to get stitched together like Frankenstein. Maybe if it were done in all one fabric. Maybe if that lovely cape collar extended to the other side...maybe if the interesting hip detail extended to the other side...
You see where I'm going with this. Asymmetry can be cool, but these are two great tastes that do not taste great together!
Carmencita pegged it perfectly -- the model in the upper right is thinking, "OMFG being a model is so not what I thought this job was gonna be!" You know she was hoping for a bikini and a beach, not a shapeless apron and an Ikea kitchen!
Some of you may have read already about Vogue's ongoing search for vintage patterns for their "Vintage Vogue Reproductions" series. The basic info is this: you scan or send a copy of the pattern envelope to Vogue at Vintage Vogue Search, Vogue Patterns
Magazine, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271 or Mailbox@voguepatterns.com. Put 'Vintage Vogue Search' in the subject line. If they decide to use your pattern, they'll ask you to send it in and you'll be credited on the envelope and get your original pattern back, plus 5 free Vogue patterns of your choice.
Curious to know more, I donned my (imaginary) reporter's hat and fired off an email to Vogue, peppering them with questions. Were there certain patterns they were looking for? Certain eras they favored? How often did submissions end up being used as reproductions? And why oh why did they need to search for the patterns? Why was their archive depleted? I threw out my pet theory -- that sewing patterns, being women's work, have traditionally been viewed as disposable. I feared that Vogue might not respond after my little rant, but their lovely merchandising manager, Carolyne Cafaro, wrote back with lots of great information:
Most of the Vintage Vogue
patterns in the catalog are a result of the search. If you look at the Vintage
pages, there are copies lines that give credit to the owner of the pattern. It
will say: Pattern source courtesy of…… We borrow the original
pattern for approximately 9 months so that the replication can be exact.
We are never looking for a
particular design. We like to try all looks but have found that styles from the
40’s and 50’s generally perform the best. However, as we never know,
we review all time periods. We file the submissions by decade and when the time
comes, we look through all of them to see what best fits the total issue. We
generally input 4 Vintage designs a year – two in our Summer issue and
two in our Winter/Holiday issue.
We actually have wonderful
archives of Vogue catalogs. Our archives are located in our New
York office and the vintage catalogs have a hard
binding with the month and year on them for easy identification. We are
extremely careful with the books and try to disturb them as little as possible.
We do not have an archive of actual patterns which is why we are always on a
While I wanted to follow up with questions like "Can I move into your New York office and sleep next to the pattern archives?", I tamped down the crazy and simply asked what changes they made to the patterns besides multi-sizing them and including modern instructions. I know many people, for example, make adjustments to 1950s patterns to account for today's girdle and longline-bra free times. Did Vogue do this as well? Interestingly, the answer is no:
As you noted, the pattern has to be
multi-sized and we do use modern instructions, but we try to stay with the
original fit. We do not accommodate for previous undergarments, but the reason
we require the original pattern is to match the fit as closely as possible. The
standards for sizing in home sewing has not changed much over the years –
they certainly do not match ready to wear!
A big public thank you to Carolyne for her answers and to Vogue for soliciting customer input on their vintage lines! I know I'll be going through my patterns and scanning away!
I saw it and had a momentary "WTF is up with that zipper?" -- but before the thought was even completed, I went "Ah, exposed zipper trend -- got it!" and moved on.
Later, it came back to haunt me. What would I think if this were 2060 and I stumbled upon this pattern? What would happen if I shared it with a group of fellow pattern lovers? The fashion trends that are so clear to us now -- like those that were so clear to our predecessors -- would be much murkier. We'd puzzle over whether or not the thing actually opened down its center. If so, why? A possible quote from Pattern Junkie 2060:
"Was this considered a smart design? A handy way to get to the detritus at the bottom of your purse? Examining the pattern further, I realized that the zipper was purely decorative. 'Why?' I wondered. What fashion trend gripped the women of 2010 to basically announce to the world 'I do not understand the concept of gravity?'"
My alter ego of the future would also regard this Simplicity crafts pattern, 2450, with wonder:
Sure, the vintage pattern lovers of 2060 might start out by admiring the thriftiness of 2010 sewers: in the midst of worldwide economic crisis, look how they adorned their coffee cups to use them as organizers! But...well, it really doesn't hide the fact that they're coffee cups, does it? The handle still sticks out. And wouldn't the cup work just as well by itself? The final nail in the coffin that ensures this pattern will be mocked without mercy in the future? It's licensed from a company called Buckets Gone Wild. Buckets! Gone Wild! See them partying in the streets! Why, I swear that pattern photo was taken on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras!
Finally, here's Simplicity 2438, a Wii Fit accessories pattern. Now, let me say right up front that I don't have a Wii but I'd love one -- they seem like a lot of fun, and a great way to exercise. Still, I suspect this pattern might be mystifying to pattern lovers of the future:
First of all, she's SO HAPPY, which always opens up a pattern for mockery. Second -- and, truth be told, this baffles me now -- the Wii is designed to be used at home. Why is a tote bag part of the pattern? (Maybe I don't understand Wii culture, and taking your Wii to your friend's house is a frequent activity.) Why does this mysterious little machine get all these specialized patterns? Ultimately I wonder if this product -- which, as I said, I covet -- will be looked on in years to come as we look at these:
It's interesting food for thought. What fashions and patterns of today will become treasured collector's items -- and which ones will become odd artifacts of the past? I'd love to hear your thoughts!