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The London College of Fashion Victor Stiebel Archive includes three sketch books: Sketch Book of 1960-1961, Sketch Book of 1962 and 1963, and Victor Stiebel Ground Floor Collections 1961-1963. They were from his couture house in 17 Cavendish Square London W1 opened in 1958 and closed when he became ill in 1963. The sketches are in watercolour, pen and pencil and show a full length front view, with smaller sketches of the back and other details. Each sketch measures 17.5 x 21.5 cms .The books are sub-divided into seasons and then suits and blouses, day dresses, (Ascot) and cocktail dresses, evening dresses and finally coats, with normally two sketches per page. The books were presented to the London College of Fashion by John Cavanagh (a contemporary of Stiebel) in 1997.
The books would serve as an overview of a collection, and would be shown to clients to encourage them to place orders. The sketches, created by a fashion artist, are carefully arranged and paired to complement and match. The model's face is of a mature woman and given appropriate accessories like umbrella, bags and gloves and evidence from photographs of the same garments in the Woolmark Archive and museum collections, show that the fabric and styling were accurately portrayed. The Ground Floor Collection was Stiebel's slightly cheaper range, where the client would be given one appointment with a couture fitter (as opposed to four for a couture garment) allowing Stiebel to compete more with the fast expanding ready-to-wear market.
South African born Stiebel (1907-1976) originally moved to England to study architecture in Cambridge in 1924 where he designed the décor and costumes for the Footlights Review. In 1929, after advice from Norman Hartnell, he went to train with the court dressmaker Reville & Rossiter and in 1932 opened his own business in 21 Bruton Street, Mayfair. In 1940 he closed his house and signed up for the Camouflage Corps in the army but in 1946 joined Jacqmar of Grosvenor Street as Director of Couture, before opening his own business again in Cavendish Square in 1958. His clients were drawn from the royal family (including Princess Margaret) and the aristocracy, but he also had an international reputation and dressed stars like Katherine Hepburn and Vivien Leigh. He was a founder member of the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers, serving as Chairman and Vice Chairman.
Further information about the life and work of Victor Stiebel and the role of these sketchbooks can be found in a chapter by Amy de la Haye entitled "Gilded Brocade Gowns and Impeccable Tailored Tweeds: Victor Stiebel (1907-76) a Quintessentially English Designer" in The Englishness of English dress edited by Christopher Breward, Becky Conekin and Caroline Cox, Oxford : Berg, 2002. The Presscutting Albums which match these Sketch Books, and provided additional information for the metadata are to be found in the Art and Design Archive in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The images and metadata presented in the Victor Stiebel Sketchbook Archive are copyright of the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. They may be used for private research and study purposes only. They must not be copied or amended in any way without first gaining the permission of the copyright holder. Enquires regarding reproduction should be sent to the address below. Every effort has been made to trace the copyright holders to gain permission for use of the images held within the collection. We will withdraw the images immediately on copyright holder's request, if appropriate.
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VS355 Coat 1963, from Sketch Book of 1962 and 1963, London College of Fashion Victor Stiebel Archive
VS817 Evening dress 1960, from Sketch Book of 1960-1961, London College of Fashion Victor Stiebel Archive
VS175 Day dress and jacket 1962, from Sketch Book of 1962 and 1963, London College of Fashion Victor Stiebel Archive