Category Archives: Capes

Balenciaga at the V & A : Museum Exhibitions Online

Design by Cristobal Balenciaga, 1965. Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum.

The Vintage Traveler recently shared an FIT symposium on museum exhibitions of fashion.
That reminded me of some extraordinary videos that were part of “Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion” at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The exhibition closed in February, 2018, but the V&A has generously posted the videos made for the exhibit online, so we can all enjoy them. [Note to other museums: Go, thou, and do likewise! Once the exhibition closes, put the videos online!] Unfortunately, the still photos from the exhibition are under copyright, as are most other museum pictures of Balenciagas — so please click on the links.

I didn’t see the exhibition in London, but it appears to have used technology to very good purpose. I’ve whiled away hours watching the V&A’s exemplary videos.
This link will take you to the V&A website, where you can read about Balenciaga and watch three marvelous videos illustrating exactly how his minimalist but extraordinary patterns come together into “Balenciagas.” Click here for Secrets of Balenciaga’s Construction

The museum took X-Ray photos of some of the Balenciagas on exhibit. This link includes another fascinating video. You can see hidden weights controlling the drape, and, occasionally, a straight pin!

A V&A video about the custom beading on a glittering evening coat is found here.

In “Learning from the Master: Deconstructing Balenciaga,” the Museum invited a group of advanced design students from the London College of Fashion to create patterns and toiles from Balenciaga gowns in the museum’s collection. If you sew or drape, this is for you! ( I’m thinking of you, Fifty Dresses….)

“Shaping Fashion: Balenciaga” is another well-done video from the V&A. You can watch designs by Balenciaga morph into designs by other famous couturiers. (I just wish all the V&A’s videos were together in one place online!)

A preview of the entire exhibit can be found in the AP Archives: click here.

Until I started searching museum collections for Balenciaga designs, I hadn’t appreciated how much he influenced my wardrobe in the late 1950s/60s. Not that I ever wore couture (ha!) but because the inexpensive clothes I did wear and saw worn everywhere were inspired by his work. My first wool suit (home-made) was a distant echo of this one. Party and prom dresses worn by my friends owed a debt to this simple & elegant flowered dress. (Note the shape of the skirt.) The shape of this coat was everywhere, and I bought a long formal in green brocade with soft pleats at the waist (circa 1964,) reminiscent of the dress under it.

More Online About this Exhibition

Many who visited the exhibition posted images or videos on YouTube; here are a few blogs or videos about it.

At 12 minutes long, this video from Stitchless TV gives a good idea of how well-thought-out this exhibition apparently was. Click here for a “walk through” that includes much besides the videos posted more clearly at the V&A site. It shows the “upstairs” part of the exhibit, which features designers who trained with or were inspired by “The Master.”

This video by Natalie (at Time with Natalie) gives a good “walk through” (starting at one minute in.)

Betty Raen at The London List captures some photos that show more of the exhibit.

For a quick taste, try Fashion Expedition’s report.

The Arcadia online blog previews the exhibit (with illustrations, of course.) Many designs by students of “the Master” are shown.

This link includes a photo of the pink “Tulip Dress” which is magically reconstructed in a V&A video.

As the late Anthony Bourdain said, “I’m still hungry for more.”

More Balenciaga exhibitions:

“Balenciaga and His Legacy:” was presented at the Meadows Museum in Dallas, Texas on February 3, 2007 by the Texas Fashion Collection. Click here. This video is not too dark, unlike others; but it’s not really in focus, either…. However — you won’t see the same creations featured elsewhere. Worth a taste.

When you have had your fill of evening gowns, this video from the Museo Cristobal Balenciaga shows superb construction on wool suits and other daytime clothing. Some of the images are too dark, but other close-ups are superb.

If you still want more Balenciaga, this 2011 exhibition, “Balenciaga and Spain,” from The DeYoung museum in San Francisco is 17 minutes long and traces Balenciaga’s development and early influences  …. sadly, the lighting and photo quality are not good. Films of his showroom are good.

This short video of “Balenciaga: Spanish Master” exhibition from New York is different and definitely worth watching.

Also creative and interesting: this video from ICONIC.

When you have time to relax, pour yourself a cup of your favorite beverage, put your feet up, and enjoy these videos and blogs.

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Filed under 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Capes, Coats, Exhibitions & Museums, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing

Berthas and Capelet Sleeves: 1930

In the 1970s, we called these “flutter sleeves.” When they first appeared in the early Thirties, they were often called “capelet” sleeves. (And their construction was different.)

These flutter sleeves — loose-fitting and cool — were popular in the 1970s. Butterick pattern 3578, dated to 1974.

They are reminiscent of a Nineteen Thirties’ style. A variation on the cape, the bertha collar, and the sleeve, a pair of “capelets” covering an otherwise sleeveless dress became a fashion in 1930. But the “bertha” came first.

Berthas, 1920s and 1930s

This sheer frock with scalloped bertha collar (sometimes called a cape or capelet) was suitable for teens and  for women up to size 44 bust. Delineator, Jan. 1930.

This very similar dress calls its scalloped bertha collar a “capelet.” Butterick 3054; Delineator, February 1930.

Butterick blouse 3758 has a bertha; Delineator, April 1931.

Butterick 3231 has a bertha collar. Delineator, May 1930.

The bertha was one way to cover the upper arm; another 1930 approach was a pair of “capelets instead of sleeves.”

Butterick 3587 (left ) and 3566 (right.) In both [otherwise sleeveless] dresses, the upper arm is covered by a “capelet.” Left: this “capelet” is a bertha collar. Right: Two separate capelets are the new style.

The broad, sheer collar on the left is a bertha collar described as a capelet; the sleeves on the right, which suggest the “flutter sleeves” of the 1970s, are actually two little capes (or “capelets,”) one to cover each arm. See the back view. They don’t meet in the back, as a cape would.

On Butterick 3252, right, the capelets are outlined in rickrack trim. Delineator, June 1930.

The “bertha” collar (which had been popular in the late 1830s to 1840s) was familiar again in the 1920s, often appearing on evening dresses for girls in their teens.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/1926-sept-p-27-7065-7024-7059-7047-7063-7057-7003-7053-top1.jpg?w=290&h=500

Left, an evening dress with a cape-like bertha collar. Fashions for teens, September 1926. Delineator. The arm baring dress on the right is more adult.

Dressy dresses for girls in the Twenties often had a bertha collar, which covered the upper arm.

Bertha collars covered the shoulders on these dresses for girls under 17;
Delineator, April 1930. The bertha on the right is split in the back.

Berthas were also seen on grown women, but covering the upper arms made a woman’s dress suitable for “afternoon” or dinner dates instead of “evening.”

Butterick 2070 from June, 1928. Delineator. The attached bertha collar ties like a cape.

(Truly sleeveless dresses were worn as formal evening dress during most of the Twenties.)

Of the six 1930 dresses that were originally featured on this page, four of them have some kind of cape-like sleeve or bertha.

Four (and a half) dresses from page 34, Delineator, April 1930.

The bertha resembles a cape when viewed from the back of the dress. This sheer, attached collar covers bare arms. Butterick 3168; Delineator, April 1930, p. 34.

It’s an afternoon dress. Older women probably appreciated the upper arm coverage, but were used to going bare-armed in very formal evening gowns.

This very-wide collar extends past the shoulders, but it’s not long enough to be described as a bertha. Butterick 3140; Delineator, April 1930, p. 34.

There are optional 3/4 sleeves under this extended, ruffled bertha collar/capelet. Butterick 3138; Delineator, April 1930, p. 34.

Where does the cape begin? Where does the collar end? Butterick wrap dress 3145, Delineator, April 1930, p. 34. Click here to see a fichu.

 

Two Capelets Instead of Sleeves: Very 1930

“The Cape Idea:” three variations from Delineator, May, 1930, p. 32. Right, 3221 has double-layered capelet sleeves — a little two-tiered cape over each arm.

Butterick blouse 3274, from June 1930, shows its capelets — probably each is a half-section of a circle. They are not sleeves, because they do not have an underarm seam.

A pair of capelets had to be stitched to the dress, but bertha-like capes/capelets could also be removable — some patterns gave the option of making a separate cape or one that was attached like a bertha.

The cape at left is part of the dress (and is actually two pieces in back;) the cape at right could be made separately. Butterick 3190 and 3237. Delineator, May 1930, p. 108.

Below: “Many sleeveless frocks have their own little tied-on matching shoulder capes. Of course the cape can be attached if you prefer that. The dress itself has a lingerie collar and a square neckline.”

Left: Butterick 3277 could be made as a sleeveless dress with separate tie-on cape, or as a dress with a bertha/capelet attached under its little white collar. Delineator, June 1930.  Right:  Oh, no — another 1930’s bolero!

Below, a little  “capelet” is sewn to the dress over each armhole.

Butterick dress 3293, Delineator, June 1930. The Commercial Pattern Archive has this pattern. The pattern layout shows that each capelet is about 1/3 of a circle, curved at the top.

The back view of Butterick 3334 clearly shows long capelets rather than closed sleeves. The front also shows a glimpse of arm between the capelet and the dress.

The “little cape sleeves” of  Butterick 3291 look very much like those 1970s’ flutter sleeves. [Yes, it’s hard to ignore those beach pajama/overalls!]

The sleeves on the right do look like sleeves, rather than capelets, but they are described as “shoulder capelets.” Butterick 3486, October 1930.

Below: This is a true sleeve –what we later called a “flutter sleeve.”

Pretty sleeves — not capelets — from May 1930. Butterick 3202.

I believe that actual capelet non-sleeves went out of fashion as 1930’s sleeves grew puffier and shoulders grew wider.

This 1939 dress has padded shoulders; instead of a flared, semi-circular capelet or sleeve,  this sleeve has a pleat for fullness.  Butterick 8583 Butterick Fashion News, Sept. 1939.

A lovely style while it lasted….

Two 1930 dresses with capelet sleeves (left) or a bertha (right) to cover the upper arm. Butterick afternoon dresses 3247 and 2988.

The dress at left, above, had three capelets: one over each arm and a third covering the gap between them in back.

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Capes, Children's Vintage styles, Dating Butterick Patterns, Sportswear, Women in Trousers

Valentine Fashions from 1926

Three young women in their teens admire an elaborate Valentine card in this illustration of Butterick patterns. 1926. Naturally, their shingled hair styles are also up to date.

For the February 1926 issue of Delineator, the fashion illustrations for teens, boys, and girls clothes were built around a Valentine’s Day theme. Even the patterns for little boys  were related to Valentine’s Day in the clever illustrations, probably by M.S. Walle.

Left, a little girl wears leggings to protect her from February weather; right, a little boy in short pants (buttoned to his shirt) holds a Valentine card to be mailed.

Right, an older girl in a green, caped coat is about to put the boy’s card in the mailbox. 1926.

Page 30, Delineator, February 1926. Valentines are mailed, received, and enjoyed by children wearing Butterick patterns.

The girl at left wears a dress that could go to the office — or, being velvet, to a daytime party. It is quite short. Frillier party fashions are worn by the other girls.

Butterick fashions illustrated on top of page 30, Delineator, February 1926. Hems for young teens barely cover the knee. Little girls’ knees are bare.

Even the littlest girl holds a Valentine close to her heart.

A range of ages for girls, plus some little boys in short pants, were shown in patterns illustrated on page 31.

A candy box and Valentine’s cards interest these schoolgirls. Delineator, p. 31. February 1926. One girl still has long, long curls.

This Valentine girl is dressed up in an entire outfit made from Butterick patterns, including her hat.

These little boys play with a ball, while the girl below holds a heart-shaped cookie (with a bite out of it.)

Young girl’s fashions, February 1926. Imagine buttoning those leggings!

Even very little girls attract Cupid’s attention.

Since I’ve been absorbed in boleros from the 1930s this week, I can’t resist pointing out this much longer 1926 bolero:

The long bolero at left is typical of the twenties, when the waist was near the hips.

The younger the girl, the shorter the dress. These are for ages 15 to 20.

All these “Valentine” girls wear their dresses much shorter than adult women in the same issue.

Women’s skirts are shown well below the knee. Delineator, page 28, February 1926.

Although I couldn’t find a signature on the pages of children’s fashions, the February illustrations for women’s fashions were signed by M.S. Walle.

Artist’s signature at lower left: M. S. Walle.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Filed under 1920s, Accessory Patterns, Boys' Clothing, Capes, Children's Vintage styles, Coats, evening and afternoon clothes, Hairstyles

Designer Fashions, February 1928

French designer sportswear, Delineator, February 1928. Illustration by Leslie Saalburg. From left, Chanel, Lelong, Vionnet. The Vionnet is trimmed with applique.

Delineator ran regular features on the latest Paris collections, often sketched by [Pierre] Soulié or Leslie Saalburg. [“Djersakasha is a cashmere jersey that could be woven as a tube, eliminating the need for seams.”]

The February 1928 issue also showed photographs of designer fashions that could be purchased in New York. [A needed reality check after all those 1920s’ fashion illustrations!]

The coat is by Frances Clyne, a top-level dress shop; the evening gowns are couture designed by Louiseboulanger and Chanel. Delineator, February 1928.

The “flesh color” Louiseboulanger gown could be purchased (and custom fitted, of course) from Frances Clyne. The Chanel could be bought at Lord & Taylor. (Note: Chanel was already selling costume jewelry in 1928.)

I can never get used to the “draggle-tail” look of these evening gowns under a coat, but this 1928 photo is proof: “This is the sort of dress for which the coat at left was created.”

This corduroy coat — very casual — is by Patou [Couture corduroy…!]

Corduroy sports coat by French couturier Jean Patou; illustrated in Delineator, February 1928.

“Patou makes a sports coat notable by such details as pale emerald green corduroy, the slot seams, the yoke, the patch pockets, the steel buckled belt, and a glistening black patent leather flower on the left lapel.” It’s cut almost like a shirt. I wonder:  did the black patent leather flower inspire Chanel, or was it the other way around?

This dress by Vionnet is also inspiring. [P.S. I wore dresses with that standing collar in the 1960s. Her influence just goes on.]

Black crepe satin dress with raglan sleeves by Madeleine Vionnet, illustrated in Delineator, February 1928. The hat was designed by Suzanne Talbot.

Thanks to a lecture by Sandra Ericson, I know that the tucks in the bodice fabric would have been done on the straight of grain, and the bodice pattern would then have been placed on the fabric with the center front and back aligned with the bias. Vionnet sometimes used fabrics so wide that they had to be custom woven. We could imitate this bodice by hiding a seam under one of the tucks, if necessary. The original was in crepe satin, but I can imagine it inspiring a modern top with sheer black sleeves….

This white satin evening dress from Lanvin is really typical 1920’s style, with its beaded hip band and simple lines. A cape was often seen on twenties’ patterns, but, being optional, many dresses were made without the cape.

Delineator sketch of a couture gown by Lanvin, Paris, February 1928.

“Lanvin puts a swinging cape on this white satin frock, since the back is so important a part of a dress for dancing. The waistline is banded with feathery embroidery in small silver and white pearl beads.” That center panel would also be lovely for dancing, and, like the Chanel gown, it seems to have a “paste” jewel as an accent. A stack of bangle bracelets was also a chic Twenties’ touch.

The long-established House of Paquin produced this evening gown:

The V-neck on the back of this turquoise couture gown by Paquin is echoed in the hip band and scalloped hemline. The hip band tied in front. Photo from Delineator, February 1928.

[I think a “flesh” or “cafe au lait” lace inset (or slip) can be seen in the low neckline opening.] This couture original was imported by Hattie Carnegie‘s New York store.

According to Lizzie Bramlett, writing at the Vintage Fashion Guild Fashion History site, customers could buy a Paris original from Hattie Carnegie, or buy one of her copies, made in New York.

For sporty, daytime wear, she sold this four-piece tweed wool suit, coat, and pullover outfit designed by Molyneux.

A four-piece couture wool ensemble designed by Molyneux and available from Hattie Carnegie in New York; Delineator, February 1928.

In 1928, “dresses are short for sports.”

Here is a list of other fashion trends, including colors, which appeared on the same page as the Molyneux ensemble and the Paquin gown:

Fashion trends as reported in Delineator magazine, February 1928, page 31.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Capes, Coats, evening and afternoon clothes, Sportswear, Vintage Couture Designs, vintage photographs