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.
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.
The sketch and caption for the peach satin blouse by Vionnet show that it closes with a slide fastener – i.e., a zipper.
Butterick Pattern #2526: Culotte Blouse with Zipper; Wrap Skirt
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.
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:
Photo 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]
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.