Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Snapshot - 1935

I was so excited yesterday when a package of vintage knitting books I had ordered from the US arrived in the mail. They were all wonderful and I will share them with you soon. But there was one book that for me just stood out from the rest.

Design by Elsa Schiaparelli

This book was published in 1935. And yes, that is a design by Elsa Schiaparelli on the front. It uses simple stitches, just plain knitting and purl, to make the textured stripes. It's the way the separate panels and pieces are put together that make it striking. And the contrast collar and belt. If you look really closely you may just be able to make out a pair of dress clips at the corners of the neckline,

On page 3 is a design by Chanel, a two piece dress with a blouse featuring her signature stripes, Note the gauntlet gloves.

Design by Chanel - Paris

Schiaparelli and Chanel, fierce rivals who couldn't stand each other, were at the height of their careers in 1935, How wonderful that women could buy a book including their patterns and as the title says "Picture Yourself" in these handknits. Chanel had pioneered the concept of knitwear as a fashion garment back in the post war period. Until then knitwear had been mostly used for practical items such as  underwear, hosiery and baby garments. Chanel's fashion philosophy emancipated woman from the hated corset and freed her for more active pursuits. Chanel was a keen sportswoman and she often wore more comfortable and practical men's clothes. She was the first designer to use stretch knits such as jersey in her designs.

One of the most fabulous things about this book is the Lily Dache hats which feature in all of the photographs. These women just look so willowy and elegant. Like the famous bias cut dresses of the '30s, these knitted dresses didn't hide any sins. I suppose a girdle helped control stray minor bulges.

And speaking of the bias cut dress, on Page 4 is this design by Vionnet, famous for the gloriously figure hugging bias cut dress in the '30s.

Design by Vionnet - Paris

The lapels and collar on this dress are amazing, with the contrast bow illusion underpinning the neck, And I love the button detail on the front and on the sleeves. But most of all, I love the Lily Dache hat!

On page 7 we have the Agnes Drecoll dress with the contrast scarf neckline. The BELT! and the BUTTON! Once again, a fabulous hat and gauntlet gloves.

Design by Agnes Drecoll - Paris
Page 8 features the first of two designs by Edward Molyneux. The highlight of this dress is the crocheted buttons, in main and contrast colours. This dress is a chunkier style of knit.

Design by Molyneux - Paris
Molyneux has a second design;

Design by Molyneux - Paris

A checked skirt suit with a blouse. Note the fluted lampshade behind. Here is the blouse:

Design by Molyneux - Paris
How gorgeous is that? Love the lace up neckline.

Design by Maggy Rouf - Paris
Maggy Rouf is a designer I've heard of but know little about.  Here is her contribution, a chunky two piece in ribbing. At first glance the top appears to be a jacket, but this is an illusion. It's a jumper with a long band stitched on the front to make it look like an elegant jacket. So much of '30s designs seems to be about illusion. The HAT! and the BAG!

The last designer to feature is Dilkusha, of whom I have never heard. I didn't feel so bad about that when a quick Google search brought up no hits at all. I assume she's a woman as the name has a feminine ending. Anyway, she contributed this rather sweet number:

Design by Dilkusha - Paris
The collar extends into a ruffle along the front band.

There are quite a few other designs where the designer does not rate a mention, but they're great, so I'll share them with you.

Note the knitted gloves and the cigarette.

Gorgeous, love the neck drapey bit.

I love this "Two-piece vestee suit", once again an example of 1930s illusion. The vest is a false one, the pieces are sewn onto the jacket front as an extension. No getting hot and taking your jacket off in this outfit.

Tweed coat. Note the carved bakelite buttons. HAT!!

 Jiffy knit dress: Did I say HAT!?

Lacy Dress: Note the pocket book, or pochette. (Shhh...HAT!)

Look at the darling scallop shell pockets, the front band extension that buttons and the tie neck.

Nothing to say, except HAT!

Charming and unusual dress with dolman sleeves and twisted belt. (Not saying the H word, but not because I don't want to).

Swagger coat. Separate optional scarf and fabulous buttons.

Crocheted striped dress with interesting neckline and amazing back:

And lastly, because I can't leave anyone out:

The raglan twin set, with twins. Note the props, because this is what you would wear on the golf course. This time the H word is HAIR.

I really don't mind that the cover is loose and in two pieces, and also a tad crumpled. Because I can make any of these designs if I want to. I'm not really likely to want to, but I love knowing that I could.

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