1950s fashion, Hollywood, sewing, sewing patterns, vintage clothing, vintage fashion

I’m Baaaaaack

Simplicity 1889. 1957.

We are back from our tour of the South. After nine days of being gone, it was good to get home. I call it a tour of the South, but really we just went to a condo on Pawley’s Island in South Carolina and parked it. With my husband’s mobility issues and COVID, we don’t go out much, but we were on the water and the weather was perfect, and that’s enough for me. We did get out to eat a couple of times in places with open seating areas, so it was nice to pretend that everything is normal for a while. But now we are home and it’s back to COVID reality again. Blah.

I did get out to my favorite antique store down there, which I always know is chock full of fun stuff, especially patterns. Got to turn it into a work trip, after all, so I went out most days at least browsing, plus picked up a great load of patterns from someone on Facebook Marketplace, so I came home with a couple hundred more patterns, including this lovely.

I thought at first this was sixties, but it’s actually 1957. You didn’t see as many cape patterns in the 50s as in the 60s and 70s. Of course there were plenty in the 20s and even thirties too, but the 50s had more capelets, and earlier in the era, so this one is interesting to me. We like to go to Scottish festivals in non-COVID times, so I’m really wanting to get a cloak a la Outlander style. Claire wears so many fantastic capes and cloaks in that show — I haven’t seen the latest season, so don’t ruin anything for me. Here’s one of my favorites:

Caitriona Balfe as Claire, in Outlander. Photo: Starz.

That yellow is just wonderful and puts her squarely in the center of the action, as Claire is always wont to be. The details in the costuming in this show are just amazing. But for the Simplicity pattern, I’d go with the pilgrim collar mid length one. I’ve always loved pilgrim collars. They just say luxury to me. I love red, of course, so red would be fine, as would a soft blue. Unless someone wants to make me a real full length hooded cloak a la Claire, which I’d of course be fine with too.

designers, sewing patterns

Dazian’s Patterns

I’ve come across a few Dazian’s patterns over the years, and they’re always unique. Dazian’s produced some sewing patterns, always for dancewear or theatre costumes. The patterns I’ve seen have been for both women and children, though there are some even harder to find men/boys ones out there. I think the actual pattern line was pretty short lived, and although the ones I’ve seen always appear to be late 40s and early 50s, the company’s website states that they actually didn’t start putting out patterns until 1961. I would have never guessed.

Dazian’s as a company was pretty cool. They actually started with theatre costumes in 1842, and the company lasted over 100 years. It was started by Wolf Dazian, said to be the most knowledgeable costumer in history, though he also designed stage props. Dazian’s costumes were worn by such notables as Sarah Bernhardt, Caruso, Anna Pavlova, Al Jolson, and Maude Adams. Mr Dazian was known.

Dazian’s created costumes for Ziegfeld, of Follies fame. It was said that Ziegfield would walk into the shop carrying armloads of sweet peas, demanding the color be replicated into fabrics. He did the same thing with butterflies. He was a creative genius, but seemed to have trouble paying his bills once the costumes were done, according to Emil Friedlander, the manager of the company in the early 40s. Another customer was P.T. Barnum, who bought custom-made costumes for Mademoiselle Fanny — an orangutan.

He created a military style coat for Maude Adams that was trimmed in 14 carat gold — his most expensive costume by 1941, at a cost of $1350. Legend also had it that he created a fountain for a performance of Anna Pavlova. When she sent her rep to threaten to kill Dazian due to the noise of the water, he offered to remedy by changing the water from “hard water to soft water.” After banging around on the pipes for a while, Ms. Pavlova declared the noise to be much improved. The man was a genius at costuming and handling people.

Dazian’s expanded to the West Coast in 1929, so that they could serve not only the New York clientele, but the growing Hollywood scene as well. Wolf Dazian had pretty much locked up costuming nationwide by this time. Though he died in 1902, his son Henry had been heading the business for some years, and it continued to grow. Henry was quite the aficionado as well. He was director of the Maurice Grau Opera company, and was such a foodie that he was known to travel abroad just to taste a particular dish. Though the company remained in business for years after his death in 1937, Henry Dazian’s will stipulated that many of the company’s assets be converted to start the Dazian Foundation for medical research. He died after a long illness of heart disease, finally succumbing to pneumonia and the effects of diverticulitis. He had never married.

Dazian remains in business today as a fabric seller, primarily for curtains and drapes for theatres, including Las Vegas. That the company has managed to thrive for 180+ years is nothing short of amazing, and the diversity of their business is fascinating to behold.

The illustration above is one of a group I acquired recently. Several are signed by “Fern,” and though I have no idea who she is, I do admire her expertise. They all include cute notes about what fabrics to use and other details. I think that these are actually costume illustrations and not patterns, but I can’t be sure, given how few of the patterns are out there. Aren’t they adorable?