Dress and Jacket by Dior, Quarter Scale Couture, ca 1950.
The images above and below show some amazing quarter-scale replicas of haute couture garments that were created in the 1950s. The garments use the exact same fabrics and sewing techniques that their full-size versions would have used.
Miniature couture. Image 1 – Dress by Jacques Fath and Dress by Jean Dessès, Image 2 – Dress by Madame Grès, Quarter Scale Couture, ca 1950.
The reason for these small scale versions is best outlined in this description below from the V&A collections:
…these dresses were bought with the toiles by wholesale companies who copied and adapted these dresses for the ready to wear market. During the post-war fabric shortages, items such as this would have provided a way to show a wholesale-purchaser what the dress looked like without the expense of making a full-size dress with all the attendant usage of fabric. The ready to wear houses and representatives would buy couture models to reproduce and copy.
In a previous post we discussed the use of the toiles which are mentioned above. This post can be viewed here Toiles and Sample Garments»
When used in combination with the toiles, the miniatures would provide the manufacturers with all the careful couture details such as hand stitching and fastenings as replicas of the way they would appear on the final garment, while the toile would provide the fit reference.
This process probably made a lot of sense at the time, but perhaps there is also something we can learn from the process for today. The combined weight of a light calico toile and a quarter-scale garment miniature would weigh less than a garment made entirely of the real fabric, an important consideration for shipping costs. The hand sewing time would also be vastly cut down on garments of this size, and no doubt many of these replicas could be cut from remnants left over when the cutters were cutting out the original full-size garments. Although we think of haute couture as being lavish and wasteful, there were often techniques built into the original couture processes which were carefully considered and perhaps more sustainable than some of today’s methods.
Images of miniature couture from the V&A Collection»