Now that I am retired, I know how incredibly lucky I was to get to design for McCall's and then Simplicity for 33 years. I, who moved to New York, in the hopes of becoming a famous opera singer. And when you think of it, there are fewer people who design for the home sewing industry than there are opera singers. One needs to be flexible in life.
The funny thing is though, this pattern was being used by adults attending Renaissance Faires all around the country and I thought I was designing a Halloween costume for kids who wanted to be knights and princesses. My two sons were 7 and 10 at the time and the padded armor was made with them in mind. I thought they could play knights and not hurt each other too much at the same time.
So, those basic, basic Nativity and Passion Play costumes that have been in the catalog since the 1940s or 50s sell reliably year after year. So, the folks at Simplicity thought we should do a high end version. I did research everywhere, in lots of books, at Christmas stores, and these angels were based on the ones that are on the Christmas Tree every year at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
My Fair Lady or Music Man anyone?????
Because of my background working for the toy industry, I had made patterns for many licensed characters. These samples have to be approved by the company who owns the license. So when I turned these samples in I hadn't finished sewing them. Some things were pinned or just tacked because I assumed I would get them back for corrections. WELL, they loved them just as is. AND the Sylvester the Cat costume ended up on the Today Show (unbeknownst to me). The person wearing it started to dance around and ... I kid you not ... the nose fell right off ON LIVE TV ... oh well. They didn't ask me if it was ready!
This pattern was the first pattern in the world of home sewing to show cleavage. I am told it was Simpicity's best selling pattern in all categories for the previous five years.
My design director and I went to my local Renaissance Faire for research and inspiration. And I made my version of what people were wearing ... which included LOTS of cleavage! BUT, the executives of the company wanted to airbrush it out. Hard to believe that now adays, but this is true.
The people in the craft and costume department went to bat for me and, as you can see, the cleavage was saved.
AND ... this is why I tell my two sons "Cleavage put them through college" 😆