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Can a supermodel sell you a Big4?

You know how we often complain about the uninspiring pattern envelope photos? So often they’re neither high fashion nor real fashion, which leaves one feeling a bit meh about the patterns. Even Vogue Patterns – Vogue being the operative word, the association with that bible of high fashion – can look a bit unfashionable.

Well, it wasn’t always like that. I vaguely recall seeing the odd Vogue Patterns being featured in Vogue magazine proper. Which is why I’ve been following the Pattern Vault blog for a while now. She digs up all these fabulous old connections between high fashion and the sewing patterns. Just my cup of tea since my impulse to sew mostly comes from wanting high fashion at a price I can afford and/or in a size/shape that fits my body perfectly. (I still have a Vivienne Westwood dress bought on sale for my birthday waiting to be altered to fit. Sigh.)

Kate Moss in OOP Vogue Patterns 9765 & 1326

So Pattern Vault’s latest post features Kate Moss in a selection of Vogue Patterns. If they had used these images on the pattern envelope would you be tempted to buy? I mean, as they’re unlikely to feature someone shaped exactly like you and me, should they at least go the high fashion route and sell you a dream? Burda style magazine does it. And I do find myself getting sucked in. Are you too a dreamer?

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15 thoughts on “Can a supermodel sell you a Big4?

  1. i’m also a lover of pattern vault! but i’m torn on the model photography and pattern envelopes. i usually find the photograph of the garment – no matter which company is pushing it – completely unhelpful and make most of my decisions based on the technical drawings. in fact, my gripe about pattern envelopes is that the drawings are too small and/or hard to find!

    • Yes, tech drawings are when the patterns come down to earth. Sometimes with a thump for me – when I realize an inspiring photo is just a bog standard dress or skirt or whatnot! :-) I guess it cuts both way. And even realizing that the pattern is not that special can be enlightening – that sometimes the perfect outfit comes from interesting choice & combination of fabrics rather than fancy pattern.

      At the moment I’m grappling with fit. So mug photos of well-fitted samples would be so useful to me. I want to see what the garment should look like when fitted correctly. In an age of doctored image it’s so easy to form possibly unrealistic ideas and over-fit a garment.

      • i agree, and i am fortunate enough to have a sloper. so i just use my own idea of fit instead of understanding the intentions of the pattern. it’s a work-around for sure. and even well-photographed garments can be tricky to judge on fit – who knows what the maker did to it, or the photographer, or how it deviated from the intentions of the pattern.

  2. I think one of the reasons that I sew a lot of BurdaStyle (besides the fact that they fit me very well) is that they do show the sort of woman/lifestyle (idealized for sure) that I see myself in – in career situations, on dates, with family and friends, enjoying a holiday… It definitely speaks to me more than just a model shot or cover art.

    But with the big 4, I think that the fabric they choose is sometimes a turn off (Burda too, for that matter). Some times you just can’t get past a print that obscures the style lines. I’m not sure there is a perfect solution.

    • Fabric choice is a difficult thing innit? It can be quite personal taste. Eg I can’t do most Liberty prints – just too dainty for my personality. But loads of ladies love them and look fab in them. Not sure what the solution is for the pattern companies. They can’t please everyone all the time.

      What I would prefer though, if they only do catalog shots, is they use plain fabric in a mid tone so all the seaming details is easy to see, and that they do front side back mug shots. It’d at least be informative if not inspiring. Tech drawings are great, but a well fitted sample can be even more informative. You see how the design is intended to drape on the body. Having said that, some of the samples on the envelopes look a tad, erm, dowdy, as if it’s slightly too big. Oh, I forgot, the Big4 do tend to run big dont’ they! ;-)

  3. I think I’m more put off by the fabric used on the front of the big 4 envelopes. I haven’t bought a paper pattern from one of those companies for years, relying instead on the Burdastyle magazine. Even then, I may like a photograph – if the pose & colour choice hasn’t obscured all detail. I make my decision by checking the line drawings.

    • Agree. But on the other hand sometimes the fabrics they (well Burdastyle sometimes) choose actually sold the pattern to me. I look at the tech drawing and it’s totally boring, but I’m just in love with the fabric…drool!

  4. Vogue patterns and Vogue magazine have never been connected. I remember when they used to do up some Vogue patterns into fashion I don’t recall that they actually used any of the designer patterns to make these fashionable garments. Sharon of Communing with Fabric recently wrote about meeting with the publisher of Vogue patterns. The reason that there are so few designer patterns these days and pretty much no French ones anymore is that the fashion houses are all owned by big companies who have no interest in having patterns made of their clothing.
    I sew a lot of Burda Style magazine patterns and the more fashionable the art direction gets the harder it is to see the clothing. I sew or buy from the technical drawings though I will admit that the pretty picture can cause me to buy patterns that really don’t suit me especially during the sales.

    • The ones featuring Kate Moss are supposedly Vogue Patterns. Or at least the patterns were mentioned in the Vogue magazine proper. I definitely recall seeing the odd Vogue Patterns mentioned in the back of the Vogue magazine where they have continuations of articles and credits. Of course you’re right that that doesn’t mean the two brands (Vogue and Vogue Patterns) are necessarily connected.

      I think it’s a shame that most of the big design houses don’t offer pattern / design licensing anymore. It doesn’t have to be current season designs. I’d happily buy patterns of past designs. So it doesn’t have to eat into their profit. It’s not like they’ll make any more money from past designs. Nor would I be shelling out big bucks for current designs that don’t even fit me properly. Rather than me trying to copy their designs without them getting any piece of the pie why not sell me the out-of-season patterns. That way they’re at least getting some money out of me and not just adoration!

      As for buying into unrealistic / impractical dreams… Shop The Garment District blog recently mentioned that…”When I was employed by a major pattern company years ago, I learned a very important piece of information that I never forgot. Pattern companies don’t sell patterns; they sell dreams. 75% of patterns purchased never even get opened by the person who purchased them.” So why not at least make those dreams attractive! :-) OK, attraction is in the eye of the beholder etc. Maybe they are already attractive to many people?

  5. I dream all the time, thinking THAT dress will make me look THAT way. Yup. And then I make it up and guess what!? I look like lil’ ol’ me in that dress. Duh. However, if I manage to get the fit and proportion right, I can almost look like THAT.

    • Yeah, according to Shop the Garment District you’re certainly not alone! “Pattern companies don’t sell patterns; they sell dreams. 75% of patterns purchased never even get opened by the person who purchased them.”

      I’m convinced that if your make fits you properly, and you have a whole team of stylist, make-up artist, professional photographer, etc + exotic location, then you’ll look every bit as glamorous as those editorial pics! :-D

  6. I remember when Vogue magazine did this – it was totally aspirational. I wish the “Big” mag still featured patterns. I would buy any pattern kate Moss wanted to sell me.

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