Tag Archives: Paris fashions of the 1920s

Was Vionnet the First Couturier to Use a Zipper? Spring 1929

Vionnet Spring 1929, Sketched for Delineator magazine, March 1929, page 27

Vionnet for Spring 1929, Sketched for Delineator magazine, March 1929, page 27

Delineator Magazine Reports on Paris Fashions, March 1929

The Butterick Publishing Company, which published Butterick patterns and also the Delineator magazine, maintained an office in Paris for the purpose of reporting on couture and other Paris fashions.

“…Butterick keeps a staff of experts in Paris all the time. Wherever new modes are launched there is a Butterick expert noting each successful model.  Quickly that expert cables the news. Sketches, details follow by the fastest steamers. Immediately patterns are made for each of the successful new modes.” — Butterick Advertisement in Delineator, August 1924, p. 67.

Couture for Spring, 1929,  Article in Delineator, March 1929, page 27.

Paris Fashions for Spring, 1929, Article in Delineator, March 1929, page 27.

The top left sketches show designs by Cheruit and Vionnet. Designs by London Trades and Mary Nowitsky at right. The evening gown is by Louiseboulanger.

Dress and jacket by Cheruit; Blouse, skirt, and coat ensemble by Vionnet, Spring 1929

Dress and jacket by Cheruit; Blouse, skirt, and coat ensemble by Vionnet, Spring 1929

The sketch and caption for the peach satin blouse by Vionnet show that it closes with a slide fastener – i.e., a zipper.

Delineator, March 1929, page 27.

Delineator, March 1929, page 27.

Butterick Pattern #2526: Culotte Blouse with Zipper; Wrap Skirt

Left, design by Vionnet; Right, Butterick pattern #2526

Left, design by Vionnet; Right, Butterick pattern #2526

When I turned to page 28 of the same issue, I found Butterick patterns which are nearly line-for-line copies of the Vionnet blouse, wrap skirt, and coat ensemble.

Butterick culotte blouse & skirt pattern #2526 on left, Coat pattern #2495 on right.

Butterick culotte blouse & skirt pattern #2526 on left, Coat pattern #2495 on right.

Back views, Butterick patterns #2526 and #2495

Back views, Butterick patterns #2526 and #2495

The name of Madeleine Vionnet does not appear on this page, but the idea for the culotte blouse is typical of her ingenuity. The problem of wearing a 1920s wrap skirt which rides far below the natural waistline (the skirt over a satin blouse would have a tendency to migrate around the body as you walk), and the problem of keeping the blouse tucked in when you sit and stand, or raise your arms, are both neatly solved by the “culotte blouse,” known much later in the 20th century as a bodysuit, as popularized by Donna Karan. The 1929 blouse is made-in-one with panties, like a camisole & panties underwear “combination” or “teddies”, also called “cami-knickers;” the crotch keeps the blouse from riding up and twisting around.

Here are the pattern descriptions:

Pattern descriptions for Butterick #2526 and # 2495.

Pattern descriptions for Butterick #2526 and # 2495.

1929 march p 28 vionnet zipper pattern blousePhoto Left of pattern #2526 “The Elegant Version of the Culotte”: This is Paris’ newest idea on the ensemble frock. The blouse is not only a blouse but a step-in, which gives it these advantages; it stays in place and it eliminates a piece of lingerie. It closes with a slide-fastener under the tied neck-line. The skirt is a graceful one-piece tie-around, holding the hips snugly. Designed for sizes 32 to 42. [bust measure]
1929 march p 28 coat pattern # 2495

Photo right of pattern #2495 “The Ensemble with Casual Coat”: The coat-and-frock ensemble has reached new peaks in the mode. There is no smarter example of it than this with a seven-eighths length coat, which hangs casually open, has moderately wide sleeves and a shawl collar, and the frock described above….Designed for 32 to 35 (15 to 18 years); 36 to 44. [bust measure]

The Vionnet culotte blouse was described on page 27 as ending “in brief trousers with the new sliding fasteners at each side.” The Butterick culotte blouse pattern described on page 28 only mentions a slide fastener down the front. It’s difficult to say from the tiny back illustration (unfortunately on the curve of a bound volume) whether we are seeing a side seam or a side zipper. [Using the Ladies’ Room while wearing a bodysuit was always awkward, but I’m not sure side zippers would help much.]

I have not searched the library for other reviews of Vionnet’s collection for Spring of 1929, but it certainly deserves more investigation.

If you search for “Schiaparelli zipper” you may find sites claiming that she was the first couturier to use zippers (then called ‘slide fasteners.’)  She was among the first; and she pioneered (and even encouraged the development of) colored plastic zippers in women’s clothing.  But, unless Butterick invented the designs sketched in its March 1929 issue of Delineator, Vionnet deserves the credit for the first zipper used in couture.

#2526 is not the first Butterick dress pattern to use zippers; # 2365 appeared in December of 1928, and no designer was mentioned.

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage patterns, Zippers

Shoes from Paris, 1928, Part 2: Netch et Bernard (and Vionnet)

Shoes from Paris to Wear with the New Winter Frocks, Delineator, Oct. 1928

Shoes from Paris to Wear with the New Winter Frocks, Delineator, Oct. 1928

Netch and Bernard (and Madeleine Vionnet) Part 2:  

In a previous post about Shoes from Paris to Wear with the New Winter Frocks, from Delineator magazine,  October, 1928, I described the shoes by Ducerf Scavini pictured on the left hand page.  This post is about the right hand page, with shoes by Netch et Bernard.  [Vionnet married Netch (Captain Dimitri Netchvolodoff) in 1923.]  Netch et Frater shoes can be seen in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, but I haven’t found any references online to Netch et Bernard.  The Delineator article was written by Marie Beynon Ray.  Her chief point was that “Many American manufacturers still continue to copy the most bizarre and striking of the French designs, and to cheapen and debase the finer ones,” resulting in a “popular misconception of French chic.”

The French Revolution in Shoes

“Ten – a dozen years ago – a shoe was merely a utility, a high boot, buttoned and laced, in brown or black leather, sturdily made to do the heaviest service of any article in the entire wardrobe…. Then came the French revolution in shoes – daytime shoes cut like evening slippers, made of the lightest and most perishable of leathers, and frankly proclaiming themelves articles of luxury…. American manufacturers, missing the spirit of French innovation, seized upon its most superficial characteristics, and produced abortions and eccentricities. The most startling and bizarre styles of the third-rate Parisian bottiers who cater to American gullibility were generally selected as models by manufacturers instead of the restrained and elegant but far less noticeable designs of the master craftsmen; and America was swept by a tidal wave of bad taste in footwear. These snub-nosed, be-ribboned, and be-jazzed atrocities were made and sold by the millions in America….”

The Truly Smart Frenchwoman’s Shoes

The truly smart Frenchwoman’s shoes are designed “to finish the foot inconspicuously and in perfect harmony with the costume…. Her preferred footgear for evening is a plain beige satin slipper or one matching the color of her gown or her other accessories….1928 oct paris shoes article p 118 rt big Netch et Bernard Netch et Bernard’s model, labeled Q on these pages, may appear a bit unusual, … as far as any really smart Frenchwoman will ever go on the road to eccentricity; and when you consider that this evening slipper can be made inconspicuously in flesh colored crêpe de Chine, piped with flesh colored kid, to be worn with matching stockings… you will admit that there is nothing bizarre about it.”

Ten Netch et Bernard Shoes, Fall of 1928

There are several pairs of shoes in the Metropolitan Museum’s collection signed Netch and Frater, and dated to the 1930s,  but I haven’t found any references to Netch et Bernard. Perhaps the company reorganized between 1928 and 1930, or perhaps Delineator Magazine was in error.  Shoes Q and S, which the article decribes as “a bit unusual,” must have been influential, since they appear to be the ancestors of many shoes familiar to vintage dealers.  The Met’s collection reminds us of the glorious colors possible.Netch et Bernard K to N

K. Saddle strap shoe. This is dark brown with darker saddle of unborn calf.

L. One-strap shoe for daytime. Beige and brown kid with woven beading.

M. High-cut pump, brilliant and dull in black patent kid and antelope.

N. Evening pump. Rose-beige satin and gold kid – cut out in ladder design.Netch et Bernard O  to P

O. High-cut slipper of two smart leathers, black patent kid and black lizard.

P. Pump with triangles of gold and silver kid on black patent leather.Netch et Bernard Q to T

Q. Sandal of vermillion crêpe de Chine with bands of silver kid for trimming.

R. Mule of gilded wood. The straps are silver kid encrusted with gold triangles.

S. Evening sandal. A simplified model in flesh crêpe and colored kid.

T. Laughing mask mule. Soft bright blue kid with gold piping and lining. [Viewed from the front, this mule would bear the mask of comedy! In profile, it shows one eye and half of the smiling mouth.]

Netch et Bernard: The Vionnet Connection

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

“One model, lettered Q and S…may appear… not ornate, but a bit unusual…. Doubtless the design was inspired by the beautiful triangular and V shaped motifs which Madame Vionnet uses so ubiquitously, for the Netch of Netch et Bernard is Madame Vionnet’s husband, and his shoes, shown in conjunction with Vionnet’s dresses, are frequently inspired by her designs…. In many of the models, a touch that is purely classical or geometrical indicates the intention of this bottier to harmonize his shoes with the costumes designed by Vionnet, a feature of which the chic woman may well take advantage.” Although Netch is not often mentioned in connection with Vionnet, Betty Kirke’s Madeleine Vionnet, an extraordinary book, confirms that Netch and Vionnet were married in 1923, and that, “after they married, he supplied the shoes for her salon.” (p. 135)  They separated in the 1930s and were divorced in 1943.  Monsieur Bernard remains a mystery to me.  Here is the relevant text, from Delineator Magazine, October, 1928, page 129:1928 oct paris shoes contd small

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Filed under 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Shoes, Vintage Accessories