Sunday 29 August 2021

Reissue, reuse, recycle

I've long been interested in how patterns reissued by the 'Big 4' use illustrations. It started off with a Simplicity reissue, which I wrote about here.

Original and reissue - spot the differences*

Then, when researching my dissertation, I looked at the other three companies**. At the time I was doing this McCall's had dispensed with original illustrations altogether, Butterick reproduced them unchanged, and Vogue took the same approach as Simplicity - using what appears to be an 'original' illustration but is actually slightly altered. Not necessarily for the better, either; personally I find the extreme thinning of the (already slim) limbs in this example unnecessary and distasteful.

Slightly different hair and poses - and, apparently, a crash diet

I had always thought that pattern reissues were a relatively modern development, but apparently not. When I was looking at the Autumn 1951 Vogue Pattern Book, this dress in particular caught my eye.

Vogue 7453

Thanks to the Vintage Patterns wiki, I was able to find the pattern, and also discover that it was reissued in 1956. In this case, the reason for the reissue seems to have been the arrival of printed patterns (or in this case, printed and perforated - something for everyone!) Completely new artwork was created, although long white gloves seem to have remained a theme throughout.

Vogue 7453 and 9059, images from the Vintage Patterns wiki

This pattern showed a completely different approach to reissuing, however.

Style 1541, 1960s

I have failed to get hold of this pattern on ebay not once, but twice! But I thought that I had struck lucky when I spotted this.

Style 1189, late 1950s?

At first glance I thought that it was exactly the same pattern, just with different heads. I assumed that, like Vogue 7453/9059, it had been reissued as a printed version, with a coloured envelope and contemporary hairstyles.

Side by side, for better comparison

But when I looked closely, and also compared the pattern backs, I discovered that there was more to it than bouffant hair and slightly shorter skirts.

1189 pattern pieces

1541 pattern pieces

The most obvious change is that the dress on the left is now sleeveless, giving three different styles instead of two. The belt/waistband piece has been removed, instead there is a waist seam, and the detail at the left of the dress waist is round rather than pointed. Plus, the sleeves have been simplified, removing the small pleats at the bottom.

In fact, this not-quite-reissue is the opposite of Vogue 7453/9059. Whereas those had different artwork for the same pattern pieces, the two Style patterns reuse artwork for a (partially) different design. The poses are almost identical, and the accessories, the fur, purse and magazine, are identical. Clearly Style was a very thrifty company! Now, of course, I'll be keeping an eye out for further examples.

* - In the colour illustration the figure on the right, in brown, has a different pose and handbag, is holding her gloves instead of wearing them, and has lost both her hat veil and her waist tie at the back.

** - My inherent interest/nerdiness was helped along immensely by Gillian Rose's Visual Methodologies, which explains, in a very readable manner, just what to look for in images.

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