Crahay's Overnight Success at Nina Ricci & Vogue #1388

Updated: Apr 5

Is there such a thing as "overnight success?" Artists tend to shrug off that idea, the designer Jules-Francois Crahay included. When the press joined in acclamation to declare Crahay an overnight success in March of 1959, he responded, "I have done the same type of dresses for the last six years. Nobody looked at them then, so how can I take my success seriously?"


Vogue #1388, Nina Ricci by Crahay c. 1957 in Red Silk Wool
Vogue #1388, Nina Ricci by Crahay c. 1957

Here we are, 64 years later in 2021, and we have a chance to appreciate some of the work Crahay did prior to his "overnight success" in 1959, with this 1957 Nina Ricci sewing pattern, which was featured in the November 15, 1957 issue of Vogue magazine, originally created in black satin:


"Paris Night Looks, " Vogue, Nov. 15, 1957, Nina Ricci: Vogue Pattern 1388
"Paris Night Looks, " Vogue, Nov. 15, 1957, Nina Ricci: Vogue Pattern 1388

This is my recreated version, made in red silk-wool, underlined with silk taffeta:


Vogue #1388, Nina Ricci by Crahay c. 1957 Asian Woman in Red Dress
Vogue #1388, Nina Ricci by Crahay c. 1957

Crahay thought the waistline was the "principal axle," and commented, in the October 12, 1959 issue of Life magazine, that, "I have always loved volume and hated all the tortured little pleats. If the material is put right, it sometimes takes no more than three pins to hold the entire dress together."



Nina Ricci, Vogue #1388 by Crahay, c.1957 Asian Woman in Red Dress
Nina Ricci, Vogue #1388 by Crahay, c.1957

It is interesting to see how vintage ideas remain current, and even borrowed between houses. Below is a comparison to a contemporary navy Dior dress. If one compares the neckline, dart placement, and bracelet length sleeves, it almost looks identical to the Nina Ricci bodice. I can even spot the contours of the sleeve stay through Dior’s navy sleeve.



This is a comfortable dress and easy to wear. The structured boned underbodice makes it almost feel weightless and easy to move around in.


Vogue #1388, Nina Ricci by Crahay c. 1957 Asian Woman in Red Dress
Vogue #1388, Nina Ricci by Crahay c. 1957

I look forward to wearing this dress to many events in the future, because its classic silhouette seems to never go out of style.



Vogue #1388, Nina Ricci by Crahay c. 1957, Asian woman in red dress
Vogue #1388, Nina Ricci by Crahay c. 1957



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