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In 1963 it was becoming increasingly apparent that fashion was headed in a youthful direction. Mary Quant had taken the fashion world by storm, and American fashion merchandisers were quick to see where this trend was leading. One of the first companies to see the potential in the youth market was Butterick patterns. They came up with the idea of having designer patterns that were geared to the younger generation. The first person signed to design for Butterick was Mary Quant, and the company searched the world for the next new design sensation. The series was very successful and lasted for almost two decades.
Mary Quant was the natural choice to be the first Young Designer with the first designs being released in the fall of 1964. By that time Quant was a fashion sensation not only in London, but around the world. She also had a deal to do designs for American mass merchandiser J.C.Penney, and many of the Butterick designs are similar to what she produced for Penney. Quant patterns were sold into the late 1970s.
Jean Muir started her "Jane & Jane label in London in 1961. She became a Butterick Young Designer in 1964, with her first designs being released the next spring. In September of 1965, Butterick brought Muir to the United States for a publicity visit, a move that made her work more known to fashion lovers in the US.
Deanna designed a "travel wardrobe" for Butterick in 1965. She was the third Young Designer and was only 25 at the time. According to the Butterick Home Catalog, "Miss Littell attributes her quick success to designing clothes that she herself wants to wear. She insisits that clothes should be a part of the person who wears them...and a dress is a success if you can put it on and forget about it." In 1965 Littell joined Paraphernalia where she was a major designer of that boutique.
French designer Emmanuelle Khanh did a line of Young Designer patterns in 1966. Khanh was often called the "French Mary Quant." She was known for her youthful approach to fashion, and also designed for the American "YouthQuake" label.
When Butterick went in search of even more international designers in 1966, Norma Tullo of Australia was a natural choice. She was already established as a designer in her native Australia, where Butterick patterns were also sold, and she was gaining popularity in Japan. She designed for Butterick into the mid 1970s.
From the November, 1966 Butterick Fashion News: "Gayle Kirkpatrick, a Coty Award winner, is one of the "Innest in" young designers. He concentrates on sportswear and believes it's a look...not an activity uniform. It's an amusing, alive look... with surprises... but no gimmicks. His clothes are well constructed and designed with great individuality. We' re proud to add his name to our growing list of famous 'Young Designers.' "
Gerald McCann was one of the hot young designers from London in the early to mid 1960s. He designed for several US firms, including Helen Whiting and Junior Aire, and he was a Butterick Young Designer in the mid 60s.
Mia Fonssagrives was the daughter of famed fashion model Lisa Fonssagrieves. In the 1960s, Mia worked with fellow designer Vicky Tiel as a movie costume designer. In 1967 she married French designer Louis Feraud.
Betsey Johnson was an established designer when she did her designs for Butterick starting in 1971. She was designing clothes for Alley Cat at the time, and her Butterick patterns have the same cheery appeal as Alley Cat clothing. In the late 1970s she did lots of crafty things - clothing that was embroidered and cute accessories. She also did a line of children's patterns, inspired by her little girl, Lulu.
Jane Tise helped found the Plain Jane Clothing Company in 1971 along with her friend Suzie Tompkins. Sweet Baby Jane was one of seven divisions of Plain Jane, the most famous being Espirit de Corps. Tise began doing designs for Butterick in the early 1970s, and continued to do so after she left Plain Jane in 1975. Her designs were playful and flirty, often with a 1940s retro feel.
Gil Aimbez studied art and fashion in Los Angeles before heading to New York. There he worked for Anne Klein and other firms as a pattern maker and design assistant. In 1973 Aimbez became the sportswear designer at Genre, a company owned by Peter Clements. Other labels were added; Bon Menage in 1977 and Snafu in 1978.
John Kloss was a lingerie designer. He designed for Lily of France, where he developed his famous unstructured bra, the Glossie, and for Cira. His designs for Butterick were very much in line with what he produced for Cira - flowing, simple shapes with little or no added ornamentation. His designs for Butterick, done from the mid 1970 to the early 80s, often blurred the distinction between loungewear and street clothing, as much of his work looked equally fabulous as disco dresses as it did lingerie.
Clovis Ruffin was a designer of youthful clothing in the 1970s. He was known best for his work in knits, and often designed versions of the tee shirt dress.
Other designers in the series include Prue Acton, Margit Brandt, and Michele Rosier. Check back for updates and additional pattern images. I welcome any additional information or images.
Lobenthal, Joel, Radical Rags.New York: Abbeville Press, 1990.
Stegemeyer, Anne, Who's Who in Fashion. New York: Fairchild Publications, 1980, 1988.
Waltz, Barbara and Morris, Bernadine, The Fashion Makers. New York: Random House, 1978.