Sunday, 25 February 2018

Not-so-famous names

One of the things which intrigues me about the 'designer' vintage patterns in my collection is which names have stood the test of time, and which have vanished without trace.

Vogue Couturier patterns seem to have started off claiming to be 'couturier designs', without actually naming the couturier in question. Then in the late 1950s while Vogue Paris Originals continued (unsurprisingly) to be the pattern line for French designers, other named designers started to appear in the Couturier line, complete with the country in which they were based.

'Michael of England' was actually born in Ireland. Michael Donnellan was head of Lachasse before starting his own house in 1953.

Michael of England, 1957

I've not been able to find out much about 'Giovanelli of Italy', possibly because he may also have been known as 'Giovannelli-Sciarra'.

Giovanelli of Italy, 1960

Like Michael, 'Galitzine of Italy' was not actually born in the country which appears on the pattern envelope. Irene Galitzine was born in Russia, but her family had to flee the country before she was two years old, and settled in Rome.

Galitzine of Italy, 1968

As well as names I had never heard of, Vogue patterns can offer up some surprises in terms of longevity. I tend to think of Molyneux as a designer of the 1930s and 1940s, so was surprised to find that the house still existed in the late 1970s.

Molyneux, 1977

It's not just Vogue patterns, either. While Butterick Young Designers Mary Quant and Jean Muir are still familiar names, Gerald McCann is less well known, certainly in this country.

Butterick Young Designers, 1967-9

A year ago I had no idea who Mia Fonssagrives was, either. I came across her name at the World of Anna Sui exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum last summer, where her career was credited as a major influence on the young Sui. She is still a designer, but now of jewellery and sculpture. Curiously the name came came up again at the recent Louise Dahl-Wolfe exhibition, also at the Fashion and Textile Museum, where this photograph of her mother, the model Lisa Fonssagrives, was on display.

Mia Fonssagrives, 1967

Partly because the name was familiar, and partly because I've just finished reading Fashioning Memory by Heike Jenss (about dressing in 1960s style), this pattern is going to be my next sewing project - and the first in my 2018 pledge to make up patterns from the 1960s to the 1980s.


  1. This was an interesting take on old patterns. I have a few old Vogue patterns, but hadn't thought of the names behind them. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You're welcome Laurie! I shall be looking out for patterns by now-obscure designers from now on.