Someone asked me once to name the fashion publication I thought was most underrated — from the ’80s or otherwise. Without hesitation I said Vogue Patterns. The response was a nervous laugh (as in, am I supposed to laugh? Is she kidding?) and confused expression. When it was clear that I was not indeed kidding, he looked at me intensely and asked, “But why?”
Vogue Patterns magazine, especially in the 1970s and ’80s, was my go-to publication for all the latest sewing pattern news. This is obvious. I loved to sew, to make clothes for myself and my friends and everybody who sews knows that Vogue Patterns have the best fit and the most progressive design, including patterns from all the big designers. You could sew yourself up a classic Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress, or make a pair of Calvin Klein jeans with the exact same fit of an off-the-rack pair. I was a big fan of the Claude Montana patterns, and those from Japanese designer Issey Miyake. Vogue Patterns were expensive, but always well worth the price.
Vogue Patterns, the magazine, wasn’t some quaint home-sewer publication. Published six times per year, it featured almost exclusively editorial spreads with clothes made from the pattern range. But unlike what you may be picturing (catalogue-style images; grinning second-tier models), the spreads were always slick and professional, shot by the biggest photographers of the day using the biggest models. More than anything, Vogue Patterns magazine was like a cousin to the monthly issues of American Vogue.
It’s a treat even today to revisit the pages of my 1980s Vogue Patterns magazines, and a delight to find spreads by photographers like Arthur Elgort, Mario Testino and Marco Glaviano. Just like then, poring over the pages makes me want to hunt down some of the patterns featured and sew — maybe something for myself or for my daughter.
And the next time someone asks “Why?” when I tell them Vogue Patterns is my favourite underrated magazine, I won’t launch into a big explanation. I’ll simply say, “Why wouldn’t it be?”
All images originally appeared in the following issues of Vogue Patterns magazine:
1. January/February 1982. Photograph by Steve Hiett.
2. January/February 1986. Photograph by Mario Testino.
3. May/June 1986. Photograph by Marco Glaviano.
4. September/October 1982. Photograph by Rudy Molacek.
5. July/August 1982. Photograph by Arthur Elgort.
6. January/February 1982. Photograph by Arthur Elgort.
7. January/February 1982.
8. January/February 1986. Photograph by David Hartman.
9. September/October 1986. Photograph by Roch Craford.