Sunday 13 November 2016

What is wrong with this picture?

Vogue Paris Originals patterns were introduced in 1949.*  Like the Vogue Couturier pattern range (launched in 1931) they came in larger envelopes; 21cm by 26.5cm / 8¼” by 10½”, as opposed to the 13cm by 21cm / 5” by 8¼” of standard Vogue patterns.

Patou, 1951

Paris Originals were marketed as line-for-line duplications of Paris couture garments. The couture association commanded a higher price; the price printed on Vogue 1137 is 9 / 2 (9 shillings and 2 pence), although it is stamped “7 / 6 Tax Free”. A normal Vogue pattern from the same year cost 3 / 6. A 1951 Vogue Couturier pattern cost 7 / 4, or 6 / - tax free.

For comparison with today’s prices, in pounds and US dollars:
9 / 2xxxxxx£14.18xxxxx$17.87
7 / 4xxxxxx£11.34xxxxx$14.29
3 / 6xxxxxx£5.41xxxxxx$6.82

Unlike Vogue Couturier patterns, Paris Originals were illustrated with a photograph as well as a line drawing. And here lies the answer to the question at the top of this post.


Well, that’s obviously photographed in Paris. Clearly the 1950s was a much more trusting age. Either that or Vogue assumed that customers who bought Paris Originals patterns were far less cynical than I am.

A few years later, any dressmaker who knew Paris well could have hours of fun playing, ‘Guess the location’.

'Somewhere in Paris', Patou, 1954

And a year after that Vogue removed all doubts and provided a backdrop which was undeniably Parisian.

Outside the Patou atelier, with bonus photobomb, 1955

So on the basis that if it’s good enough for Vogue, it’s good enough for Black Tulip, I’ve reviewed a few photographs of recent makes.

Photographed in Paris

Photographed in Milan

Photographed in New York

Photographed in Venice
OK, so the last one was actually photographed in Venice, but you get the idea.

* - For the history of Vogue’s special pattern ranges I'm indebted to Blueprints of Fashion – Home Sewing Patterns of the 1940s by Wade Laboissonnier.


  1. Fascinating. Great post. I love your detective work.

  2. My goodness, you're so well travelled! ;)

    1. Thank you Kestrel. And amazingly, I always manage to find a backdrop which looks just like my own back yard!