Tag Archives: Lucien Lelong Frendh designer 1920s twenties

Flounces, Tiers, and Great Big Bows; 1928-1929

This is a variation on my “Hems Going Down” posts. (Part 1:  1926)  (Part 2:  1928.) While collecting images of 1920’s dresses with high-low hemlines, side drapes, back drapes, and handkerchief hems, I realized that I had quite a lot of pictures of late twenties’ dresses with tiers of flounces, often sharing a page with dresses that feature gigantic bows which flow into side drapes, etc.

Formal Frocks for tthe Holidays, Delineator, Dec. 1928. Butterick patterns 2347 & 2367.

“Formal Frocks for the Holidays;” Delineator, Dec. 1928. Butterick patterns 2347 & 2367.

Paris led the way, with couture frocks of increasing complexity. This simple, flounced, formal gown is by Chanel:

Formal gown by Chanel, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

Formal gown by Chanel, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

“This frock, stiffened at the edges, embroidered with chenille, is black net. From Chanel.”

So is this much more complicated red gown, trimmed with a huge bow:

Velveteen evening frock from Chanel, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

Velveteen evening frock from Chanel, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

“Velveteen is now an evening fabric. Chanel has chosen it in red in a very stiff quality for this frock.” The complexity of that cut would be daunting for a stitcher, in any fabric!

Evening gown by Lucien Lelong, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

Evening gown by Lucien Lelong, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

“This is the new tulle frock of the winter — it is all in tulle, from flowers to hemline. Lelong.” Note Lelong’s  indecision about the waistline, with the dress’ belt lower than the waist of the slip.

Evening dress by Vionnet, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

Evening dress by Vionnet, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

“White chiffon and the glitter of white strass and crystal beads are used by Vionnet for this frock.” ‘Strass’ refers to a type of rhinestone. The skirt looks heavy with beading, and it seems to have a draped (cowl) neckline.

Evening dress by louiseboulanger, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

Paris evening dress by Louiseboulanger, illustrated in Delineator, Nov. 1928.

“Here Louiseboulanger has revived old-fashioned brocaded satin in brilliant yellow.” [Louise Boulanger’s design house used her name as one word, frequently all in lowercase letters.] Note the enormous amount of fabric used in the side drape — perhaps as much as used for the dress itself!

These dresses by Chanel and Lelong illustrate the accompanying text from The Delineator:

Chanel, left and Lelong, right. Illustrated in Nov. 1928.

Chanel, left and Lelong, right. Illustrated in Nov. 1928.

“The full skirt  . . . drops at the back in a graceful point almost touching the floor, with a molded bodice cut higher than the slip, giving the effect of a transparent yoke of lace or chiffon . . . . The skirts, almost without exception, have an uneven hemline, and while the favorite movement is toward the back, there are many which have a diagonal line with a deep point on one side. [Like the Vionnet.]

If there was any doubt about how quickly Butterick’s Paris office could translate designer fashions into patterns for its customers, here are six Butterick patterns which appeared in that same November 1928 issue of Butterick’s Delineator magazine:

For Dancing, Dining and the Opera, Butterick patterns 2312, 2314, 2307. Delineator, Nov 1928.

“For Dancing, Dining and the Opera,” Butterick patterns 2312, 2314, 2307. Delineator, Nov. 1928. The center dress, if made in softer fabric and without the rose trim, would come very close to the black, chenille-embroidered Chanel.

Dresses for Dancing, Dining and the Opera, Delineator, nov. 1928. Butterick patterns 2315, 2317, 2325. Jacket 1367.

Dresses “for Dancing, Dining and the Opera,” Delineator, Nov. 1928. Butterick patterns 2315, 2317, 2325. Jacket 1367. The jacket was called a “bridge jacket.”

The bow construction on Butterick 2317 deserves a closer look:

A massive amount of fabric is ruched into the bow of Butterick 2317, Nov. 1928.

A massive amount of fabric is ruched into the bow of Butterick 2317, Nov. 1928.

Tiers and flounces were also featured in these 1928 patterns:

Butterick patterns 2325, 2314. Delineator, Dec. 1928.

Butterick patterns 2325, 2314. Delineator, Dec. 1928. The afternoon dress on the left has a high-low hem.

Butterick patterns 2297. 2301, and 2315. Nov. 1928; Delineator.

Butterick patterns 2297. 2301, and 2315. Nov. 1928; Delineator. [The dress on the right, made sleeveless, is the black evening dress shown above with a bridge jacket.]

Butterick patterns  2379, 2287, 2366. Delineator, Dec. 1928.

Butterick patterns 2379, 2287, 2366. Delineator, Dec. 1928.

The one on the left above has flounces and a bow. The high/low-hemmed dress at right is for a young woman.

“This lace frock is the most formal of daytime fashions.” Butterick 2430. Butterick 2446, right, has a cowl neckline attributed to Vionnet. It’s rather austere, except for its enormous bow. Feb. 1929, Delineator.

Flounces and great big bows: Butterick patterns 2448 and 2468, Delineator, Feb. 1929.

Flounces and great big bows: Butterick patterns 2448 and 2468, Delineator, Feb. 1929. The “bow” on the left seems to be flounces stiffened with horsehair.

Nothing succeeds like excess.

Delineator, December 1928.

Delineator, December 1928.

Although the “pillow” bow on the right is outrageous, the curved seams in the chiffon dress (far left) and the lace dress (center right) are real tests of sewing skill. The lace dress has both the uneven hem and sheer top  [“the effect of a transparent yoke of lace or chiffon . . . . The skirts, almost without exception, have an uneven hemline.”] described in The Delineator.

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Going Up: Rising Hemlines, Border Prints, and Tunics, 1924-1925

In 1924, the “Twenties’ look” most familiar to us today had not yet reached the proportions we expect. Skirts were long — as long as they had been in 1917.

Cover of Butterick's Delineator magazine, June 1924

Cover of Butterick’s Delineator magazine, June,1924

The young mother above wears a simple housedress, but the most famous designers in Paris were also showing long styles for daytime in 1924:

Fashions from Paris, sketched for Delineator by Soulie, January 1924. This dress is by Agnes, also known as Mme. Agnes Haver. Her house later combined with the house of Drecoll.

Fashions from Paris, sketched for Delineator by Soulie, January 1924. This dress is by Agnes.

“Gold braid underscored with rose-colored embroidery binds the slashed edges of an overdress and tunic of black crepe marocain. The foundation is narrow, the sleeve short and the length about eight inches from the floor. From Agnès. ” (Agnès was also known as Mme. Agnes Haver; her fashion house later merged with the house of Drécoll.)

Two things to note:  The dress ends “about eight inches from the floor,” and it is actually a tunic over a “narrow foundation.”  Here are three more Paris designs from early in 1924, drawn by Soulié:

Suits from Paris, March 1924. The designers are Marial et Armand (not much known today,) Molyneux, and Lelong.

Parisian luxury, March 1924. The designers are Martial et Armand (not much known today,) Molyneux, and Lelong.

1924 was a year when fashion was changing, and I want to draw attention to some of the “styling tricks” that made women willing to exchange these very long styles for much shorter ones. The suit on the far right above is by Lucien Lelong. Here is one of Lelong’s daytime styles, just six months later:

An ensemble by Lucien Lelong, drawn for Delineator in September, 1924, by Soulie.

An ensemble by Lucien Lelong, drawn for Delineator in September, 1924, by Soulie.

Fans of late 1920’s fashions may think, “Now we’re getting somewhere!” Here are the two Lelong designs, side by side:

Day wear by Lucien Lelong, March and September, 1924.

Day wear by Lucien Lelong, March and September, 1924.

How did we go from 8 inches off the ground to knee length in just six months?

Once again, a “tunic” is involved:  “Silver embroidery trims the white georgette tunic top.” Judging from other tunics (see below) the tunic has a dark, flared skirt which extends down to about 5 inches above the skirt hem. That produces two hemlines, and two hip lines as well:  transitional fashion. I can’t help noticing that the coat from March is the same length as the whole outfit in September.

Tunics and Costume Slips

Tunic blouses, as well as dresses with horizontal bands near the hem, and the use of border prints in both are typical of this period in fashion, when designers offered “two hems,” visually. The long “tunic blouse,” worn over a longer “costume slip,” created a dress that was both long (conservative) and short (the coming — but shocking — style.) This illustration shows all three “styling tricks” which evolved into a shorter look:

Butterick patterns for June 1924:  a dress with a contrast band at hem, a dress made from a border print fabric, and a border print tunic worn over a costume slip. Delineator.

Butterick patterns for June 1924: left, a dress with a contrast band at the hem; center, a dress made from a border print fabric; and, right, a border print tunic worn over a white costume slip. Delineator.

These dresses get your eye used to stopping near the knee. (My eye runs down the blue dress to the hem and then bounces back up to the big black dots, and stays above them, as if the dress ended there.)

The “tunic blouse and costume slip” ensemble came into its own in mid-1924 — at least in Butterick’s Delineator patterns. Outfits with two visual hemlines — one real, and one either a tunic hem or an optical illusion, such as a plain or embroidered band — appeared early and often, side-by-side with other mid-twenties’ dresses, throughout 1924 and 1925.

Three Butterick dress patterns from 1924. Nos. 5157, 5145, and 5658.

Three Butterick dress patterns — not tunics — from 1924. Nos. 5157, 5145, and 5658. Each has a horizontal line at about knee level.

The dresses above use decoration to give your eye a choice of “hemline” — long, or about knee height. (To see some 1924 dresses shortened to knee length, click here.)

These “tunic blouse and costume slip” outfits really do have two hemlines:

Three tunic blouse and costume slip ensembles, Butterick patterns, 1924. Nos. 5790, 5455, & 5681.

Three tunic blouse and costume slip outfits, 1924. Butterick patterns Nos. 5790, 5455, & 5681. Slip patterns  5631 and 5685. The costume slip is also visible in the deep V-neck of the dress at right.

Older (or conservative) women could opt for very long dresses (right and center). Two of the tunics above also have a band of embroidery, suggesting three possible lengths: 8″ above the ground, mid-calf, or knee length.

A Vintage Tunic Blouse

Many years ago, while making an inventory of a vintage collection, I encountered a navy and white silk garment that puzzled me. I could tell from the fabric, construction and neckline that it was probably from the 1920’s. But it was a big cylinder, about 44 inches around, and quite short.

A mysteriously short -- and large -- silk dress.

A mysteriously short — and large — silk dress.

It was too big for the mannequin, even big enough to fit me — but it stopped far above my knees. I tried to imagine a woman with a 44″ bust who was at least 10″ shorter than I am, which would make her 4′ 9″.  The fabric was printed á disposition, with a large scale pattern toward the bottom, getting smaller toward the top, and a white band. Was it so short because it was made from a silk scarf? I wondered.

lg V095 silk pattern

Since it probably had a low resale value, I decided not to spend any more of my employer’s time on it. Two years later, I saw this page in a 1925 Delineator and the penny dropped:  It was a tunic blouse (far right):

A dress, a pink border print dress, and a  black and white tunic blouse over a costume slip. Butterick patterns for June, 1925. Delineator.

A striped dress, a pink border print dress, and a black and white tunic blouse over a white costume slip. Butterick patterns for June, 1925. Delineator.

The vintage silk tunic blouse I found had become separated from its “costume slip” — probably navy or white, and probably mid-calf length. The tunic was made from a border print with a white band, as shown in the color image above, and in the black and white image below:

Three tunic blouse outfits, March 1925. Butterick's Delineator.

Three tunic blouse outfits, March 1925. Butterick’s Delineator. Each tunic is a different length, unlike the slips which show beneath them.

Once I started looking, the number and variety of tunic blouses in the 1924-25 Delineator magazines surprised me. Sometimes you have to look twice (or read the label) to tell the two-piece tunic blouse outfits from the wide-bordered dresses beside them.

Dresses and a tunic blouse outfit, Delineator, 1925. Butterick patterns.

Three dresses and a tunic blouse outfit (in brown), Delineator, 1925. Butterick patterns.

Delineator, Nov. 1924. A, B, and C are tunic blouses.

Delineator, Nov. 1924. A, B, and C are labeled tunic blouses. “A costume slip and several tunic blouses make a varied wardrobe.” The white and silver Lelong tunic was probably cut similar to “A.”

Three tunic outfits, December, 1924. Butterick patterns in Delineator.

Three tunic blouses with costume slips, December, 1924. Butterick patterns in Delineator.

Dresses from 1925. Butterick patterns.

Dresses — not tunics — from  February, 1925. Butterick patterns. These 1925 hemlines are a little shorter, but two dresses still create a knee-length “stopping point” with a decorative band or embroidery.

The tunic blouse ensemble, and other dresses with a horizontal line at the knee, made the proportions of knee-length dresses seem familiar and attractive as they came to dominate twenties’ fashion.

“Tunic blouse costumes, the newest two-piece frock and dresses,” Delineator, April, 1925.

I suspect that many vintage dealers have encountered tunics without their slips, and, like me, puzzled over their odd proportions. Once the transition to knee length dresses happened in 1926-27, I wonder if thrifty women continued to wear the longer knee-length tunics without their slips.  The survival of any of the silk border prints is lucky, because they were such a great source of re-useable fabric during the 1930’s Depression and 1940’s fabric rationing. It’s easy to imagine them turned into blouses, scarves, jacket linings, and even bodice/yoke/sleeves for two-fabric dresses.

Two-fabric dresses from Butterick's Delineator, 1931.

Two-fabric dresses from Butterick’s Delineator, 1931.

Two-fabric outfits, Butterick's Delineator, 1932.

Two-fabric outfits, Butterick’s Delineator, 1932. A flash of matching, dotted jacket lining is visible at left.

Next stop:  What on earth is a “costume slip?”

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing, Vintage patterns

Paris Fashions for June 1926, Sketched by Soulié

Paris designs by (from left) Worth, Jenny, and Lucien Lelong. Soulie's sketches for Delineator magazine, June 1926.

Paris designs by (from left) Worth, Jenny, and Lucien Lelong. Soulie’s sketches for Delineator magazine, June 1926.

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.

Jean Patou

Design by Jean Patou sketched by Soulie for Delineator, June 1926.

Design by Jean Patou sketched by Soulie for Delineator, June 1926.

” ‘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.

Fabric flower petals at the shoulder and a "bolero" effect on a vintage twenties' gown.

Fabric flower petals at the shoulder and a “bolero” effect on a vintage late twenties’ gown.

Two vintage twenties' dresses; one has floating side panels; the other has a bolero effect falling all the way to the waist.

Two vintage twenties’ dresses; one has floating side panels that evoke Patou’s bolero; the other has a bolero effect falling all the way to the waist — and self-fabric petals at the shoulder.

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.

Butterick 2450 (Feb.) and 2490 (March), 1929. Trim at the shoulder and hip.

Butterick 2450 (Feb.) and 2490 (March), 1929. Trim at the shoulder and hip.

Renée

Design by Renee, sketched by Soulie for Delineator, June 1926.

Design by Renee, sketched by Soulie for Delineator, June 1926.

“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

Molyneux design sketched by Soulie for Delineator, June 1926.

Molyneux design sketched by Soulie for Delineator, June 1926.

“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.

Evening jacket by Molyneux, 1926. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

Evening jacket by Molyneux, 1926. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

Detail of Molyneux jacket, 1926. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

Detail of Molyneux jacket, from 1926. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

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.

Paris designs by (from left) Worth, Jenny, and Lucien Lelong. Soulie's sketches for Delineator magazine, June 1926.

Paris designs by (from left) Worth, Jenny, and Lucien Lelong. Soulie’s sketches for Delineator magazine, June 1926.

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.”

Rose and green outfit by Worth, Ash-pink and blue ensemble by Jenny, and a tucked georgette ensemble by Lucien Lelong, Delineator sketch by Soulie, June 1926.

Pink and green outfit by Worth, Ash-pink and blue ensemble by Jenny, and a tucked georgette ensemble by Lucien Lelong; Delineator sketch by Soulie, June 1926.

“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:

Coat by Jenny, 1926. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

Embroidered coat by Jenny, 1926. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

It’s nice to remember how colorful these garments could be. (Click here for more images of this coat.)

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Filed under 1920s, Coats, Dresses, Tricks of the Costumer's Trade, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Garments: The Real Thing