Butterick kept an office in Paris, where, among other things, the latest collections were sketched.
“. . . Butterick keeps a staff of experts in Paris all the time. Wherever new models are launched, there is a Butterick expert noting each successful model. Quickly that expert cables the news. Sketches, details follow by the fast steamer. Immediately patterns are made for each of the successful new dresses.”
These sketches by Soulié were a regular feature in Butterick’s magazine, The Delineator. Many of these designers’ names are still very familiar (Worth, Patou, Molyneux) while others are less often mentioned. Jenny and Renée often created lovely fashions in the 1920s. I photographed these illustrations from a bound copy of six issues of The Delineator, so this image of a gown by Patou is distorted by the curvature of the book, but the details are worth a look.
” ‘Premier bal’ [first ball] is the charming name of a charming frock from Jean Patou. It is made of pale pink chiffon with a bolero beginning at a yoke and ending over a draped girdle. Petals of pink taffeta weight the full godets.”
I don’t claim a direct influence, but I have seen vintage dresses with similar details.
A cluster of petals, or a bow, on the left shoulder was often repeated at the right (or left) hip, perhaps with a drapery or cascade of fabric falling from there to the hem or beyond. This was a clever device for attracting attention away from unflattering horizontal lines and making the viewer’s eye travel up and down the dress instead of across it.
“Renée puts clusters of fan plaits in the cape and skirt of a Summer ensemble of violine wool poplin trimmed with buttons dyed to match the material. Skirts remain short and sleeves long in Paris street clothes and necks turn up their collar.”
“Molyneux makes a shimmering evening frock of mauve Georgette with the bodice double crossed with lines of mauve celophane [sic] and the same glistening trimming edging the petals of the skirt.”
Cellophane was invented by a Swiss textile engineer named Brandenberger and perfected in time for use in gas masks in WW I. (Click here for a history of cellophane.) I do not recommend dry cleaning cellophane dress trims!
Perhaps the client who bought this 1926 evening dress also bought glittering this Molyneux wrap.
To return to the outfits pictured at the top of this post, here they are shown full length, and later, I will show their details.
Worth (far left, above,)
“Worth puts a bolero and tunic of a reddish pink silk printed with roses over an apple-green front and skirt. The wide sleeves end in a green hem edged with three minute folds of the rose silk.” What a shame we can’t see this in color!
Jenny (center, above)
Jenny makes a rather wonderful Summer ensemble with a flared coat of ash-pink cloth over a smocked frock of silk printed with roses, cyclamen, and white cherries. Touches of Sevres blue trim the neck both of coat and frock.”
Lucien Lelong (Right, above)
“‘Sans atout‘ or “No Trumps” is a grand slam of finely tucked white Georgette used for a soft coat and a still softer frock. Civet fur hems the coat.”
“No Trumps:” Playing bridge was becoming a chic pastime, and evening dresses sometimes included a “bridge jacket.”
This embroidered coat by Jenny, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, also dates to 1926:
It’s nice to remember how colorful these garments could be. (Click here for more images of this coat.)