Feb 22, 2012
Blame Dr. Miyoshi Okamoto.
In 1970 he invented a 100% polyester, machine-washable, suede-like microfiber fabric that went on to define an often-derided decade of fashion. Indeed, who can talk about Seventies style without mentioning ultrasuede (or rather, Ultrasuede)?
Remember this spread from a 1972 McCall's magazine I shared with you a few months ago?
Just as we can't talk about Seventies fashion without mentioning Ultrasuede, we can't talk about Ultrasuede without mentioning the designer Halston. He loved the stuff and it came to define him. Parenthetically, did you know Halston had his own McCall's pattern line in the Seventies (and into the Eighties)?
Must. Collect. Them. All.
The way I see it, now that I've made my Seventies faux fur coat and wrap pantsuit, there is no question what metaphorical fashion mountain I must climb next. Working in that shaggy beaver fur, backed by this pink microfiber, may have triggered Ultrasuede flashbacks closely related to PTSD.
Would you be surprised if I told you that this Halston shirtdress is part of the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, here in NYC? It only looks like it jumped out of a vintage J.C. Penny catalog.
And speaking of Halston (and J.C. Penny, where he had a controversial diffusion line) did you know that a recent film made about him was entitled Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston. Dreadful reviews, unfortunately.
I can spot Charlie Girl Shelley Hack and Angelica Huston in the last photo. Anyone else you can name?
If I told you that the Stan Herman Vogue designer pattern at the top of today's post was available for just 99 cents on a very popular vintage pattern site, would you tell me to grab it IMMEDIATELY, or leave it, forgotten, in history's vintage pattern graveyard?
The problem with Ultrasuede tunics is that they...well...need I spell it out to you?
Nevertheless, I'm starting to obsess about Ultrasuede. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating: I'm getting into it. I actually have a few Ultrasuede-y scraps in my stash -- you may recall I used one for the underside of my velveteen jean jacket last year.
I think it's time for a re-visit.
Over on Etsy, there are some classic vintage Seventies Ultrasuede garments for sale. I love 'em.
And for the man in your life, this Halston original!
Friends, whatever happened to Ultrasuede? Did its popularity diminish with the return to popularity of natural fibers in the Eighties? Was it -- like faux fur -- never able to disassociate itself fully from all things disco, Seventies, and -- let's be honest -- cheap?
Today I want to hear your Ultrasuede memories. A few questions:
Do you still wear the Ultrasuede? Have you ever sewn with it?
What happened to Ultrasuede's popularity? (I think of it more as something you upholster sofas with nowadays. Am I wrong?)
When's the last time you saw an Ultrasuede pantsuit? Actually, when's the last time you saw a pantsuit, period -- other than here at MPB, of course!
Ultrasuede, yea or nay?
Coming soon: Qiana -- Was It All a Dream?