Who's that girl - and why is she so expensive?
July 23, 2017 1:52 PM   Subscribe

This sewing pattern is listed on eBay for £2,500. The seller promises 'half off if you can tell me who this [the model] is'. So who the heck is it?

The pattern itself is not rare, and not even scarce patterns such as 1920s evening gowns tend to sell for this much - for reference, here's a list of patterns that sold for a high amount. So one can only assume that the identity of the model is what led the seller to price so highly....
posted by mippy to Grab Bag (69 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe Brooke Shields? It seems like she did some pattern modeling in the 80s.

posted by countrymod at 2:19 PM on July 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't think that's Brooke Shields, but I also don't think that pattern is actually worth that much. I used to think that sort of thing was just someone being absurdly optimistic but then read about small items selling for far more than they're worth online being a money laundering thing.
posted by windykites at 2:29 PM on July 23, 2017 [13 favorites]

Kiera Knightley's mother? Just looks like her in the eyes and mouth. I believe her mother was an actress.
posted by amanda at 2:41 PM on July 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm pretty sure that's Anna Nicole-Smith
posted by sexyrobot at 2:47 PM on July 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

She would only have been 11 in 1978, though it really does look like high school-era pictures of her.
posted by amanda at 2:58 PM on July 23, 2017

Also possible that it's someone pricing it super high hoping it will go viral, when he will "reveal" the model's identity to be someone he's affiliated with who's looking for publicity
posted by Mchelly at 3:05 PM on July 23, 2017 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: I don't think it's worth that much either - usually patterns sell for a lot if they are old, in an unusual size (plus sized patterns from the 40s/50s are very hard to find without deep pockets) or have a designer name attached to them. I am just curious as to whether the seller thinks it's worth so much based on the identity of the model...
posted by mippy at 3:09 PM on July 23, 2017

sorry didn't see the date...Lynda Carter maybe? Makes sense to list it now with the WW movie and all...
posted by sexyrobot at 3:15 PM on July 23, 2017

It is Maud Adams, who played Octopussy in the Bond movie of the same name. I am 90% certain, as she did model for McCalls at one point and it looks just like her.
posted by nightrecordings at 3:27 PM on July 23, 2017 [5 favorites]

A teenaged Willow Bay?
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:39 PM on July 23, 2017

Cybil Shepherd?
posted by humph at 3:45 PM on July 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

None of the women mentioned have the same distinctive crook to the outside of their left eyebrows that the model here has.

I don't have enough experience with it to know exactly how much this means, but betaface returns no useful celebrity matches (and it has some incredibly obscure celebrities) and there could hardly be a better image for facial recognition software to use.

But this doesn't make sense. Why, if the model is the reason for the price, would you get a discount for knowing who she is at all? I mean, knowing who this person is would be the reason to pay such a high price in the first place. If it was a money laundering thing, then why include the discount thing at all?
posted by cmoj at 3:48 PM on July 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

Aaargh. Yes I think Cybill, it's the jaw. The rest is a shitton of makeup. damn crashing ipad
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:54 PM on July 23, 2017

Cybill Sheperd does not have that slight widows peak that this model has.
posted by plastic_animals at 4:17 PM on July 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

I sort of thought that the seller just wants someone to identify the model, for their own personal reasons. The high price is because they don't actually want to sell the pattern (even at half off, it's ridiculously expensive), but the "half off" thing is a hook to get people interested and sending in their guesses about the model.
posted by Quietgal at 4:38 PM on July 23, 2017 [13 favorites]

My money''s on the actress/Bond girl Lois Chiles, suffernng from a drive-by from a low-bid makeup/hairstylist.
posted by zaixfeep at 5:31 PM on July 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would say that model is a little more gender-ambiguous than I'm used to for the late '70s.

And the pose and expression definitely seem to be saying they know something we don't and find it very amusing.
posted by jamjam at 5:58 PM on July 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

here is the link at the pattern wikia. nothing there, just reference
posted by cda at 6:22 PM on July 23, 2017

I'm pretty sure it's Kathy Ireland with her hair pulled back.
posted by fshgrl at 6:46 PM on July 23, 2017

Ireland was 15 in 1978 and didn't start modeling until 1979.
posted by plastic_animals at 6:52 PM on July 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I contacted McCalls customer service. Will update if they provide the answer!
posted by cakebatter at 6:57 PM on July 23, 2017 [6 favorites]

If it was a money laundering thing, then why include the discount thing at all?

I'd assume that phrase was some kind of security code.
posted by windykites at 7:08 PM on July 23, 2017

posted by oflinkey at 7:20 PM on July 23, 2017

Copyright dates on things like this are often a few years behind, so all we know here is that it's from *past* 1979. And my amateur-enthusiast-about-the-period-1977-to-1983 eyes are telling me this is much more of an '80s photography look as well as the hairstyle and earrings. I could even put this around 1984-1986 but I am guessing it's more 80s than 1978. In fact, the pattern could be copyrighted to 1978 but this photo reshot around 1985 to give the pattern a more contemporary appeal. The history of McCall's printed materials might be helpful in seeing if they changed fonts or their design package at some point in this era...
posted by scrowdid at 7:27 PM on July 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

Well, so much for my theory... searching eBay for "mccalls pattern" + $YEAR shows no evidence of the "Blue McCALL'S logo in a Palatino-esque font followed by smaller Helvetica pattern number" package design concept being used in any year past 1978. Which means the photo of this model is doing a great job of fooling my eyes, because it sure has a lot of subtle '80s cues to me. I guess McCall's was just really fashion-forward in 1978?
posted by scrowdid at 7:50 PM on July 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

I kind of hate to say it, but there's nothing about that picture that says "major star model," much less "Bond girl," and suspect it is actually the seller herself, and this was her 15 minutes of fame. The sly "do you know who this is" tease kind of makes a little sense in that context.

If it is someone famous, maybe the seller is hoping she will buy it to burn it?

(I've had too much caffeine.)
posted by sageleaf at 8:00 PM on July 23, 2017 [9 favorites]

I could even put this around 1984-1986 but I am guessing it's more 80s than 1978

Oh no. Did you see that neck scarf? Absolutely not that late. 1982, absolute latest. This dress style is 1978-82. Regarding "androgyny," this is not unusual for the late 70s and clearly seems to be a pre-Olivia, pre-Diana look but still in the same vein of Aryan-ish strong-jawed woman - which was an admired look even that early.

The model has some eye makeup on that's making her lids look deeper than they are. Still her brows are much lower and closer to her eyes than Maud Adams'.

The closest guess in thread so far is Cybill Shepherd. Compare with these contemporaneous photos: 1, 2, 3, 4 (perhaps most convincing), 5. Here's some Pinterest images of some of her early modeling work for comparison. It really does look like her. Here's another image with almost the same facial expression as in the pattern. The only doubt I have is that I think her career was already kind of better than McCalls' level even early on.

Why is it so expensive? I think this person is high because they think they've found something really valuable. It's common among junkhounds. It doesn't mean anything.
posted by Miko at 8:38 PM on July 23, 2017 [6 favorites]

Assuming the eBay seller is on the up-and-up, the androgyny comments may be key to solving the mystery. Maybe it's someone who was not commonly known as female at the time.
posted by rw at 8:58 PM on July 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

It's definitely not Cybill Shepherd or any of the other models named already. She does look vaguely familiar, maybe because she shares certain features with the known models named above, but most of my money is on this model being someone who isn't known at all for having modeled, but is famous-ish for something else entirely. And the rest of my money is on the seller thinking the person in the picture is someone that it isn't.
posted by padraigin at 9:17 PM on July 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

maybe a terrible picture of Gia Carangi? she did some work for McCall's when she was starting out. this is her, on the far right. link
posted by patricking at 9:23 PM on July 23, 2017

Guys, after image searching the pattern I'm pretty sure this is a picture of the person set next to a picture of the pattern envelope for the purpose of creating the eBay ad. I don't believe this person was a model on the pattern envelope itself (most of them from that era depict sketches on the envelope, not photographs. Also, the style of the blouse worn in the photo does not reflect the style of the pattern being offered. So the picture itself is not necessarily circa-1970's.

I'm also not convinced that this person is solely a professional model, though I could be wrong. I'm guessing they may be an athlete, or a celeb/socialite. If it is an athlete I'm sorely out of my depth in terms of recognizing the person.

mippy any indication of where the seller is located? I wonder if it could be a politician who may have recently gained wider recognition?

I've been stuck at home the last four days and I've already decluttered all of the cabinets and closets and deep-cleaned the kitchen and done umpteen loads of laundry. This puzzle of a question is a very welcome distraction and I'm not done working on it.
posted by vignettist at 9:35 PM on July 23, 2017 [5 favorites]

Here's a McCall's from '78 with a photo and a *gasp* Laura Ashley from the same year with a photo though you're right, mostly it's drawings.
posted by amanda at 9:48 PM on July 23, 2017

Gia fails the widow's peak test, same as Cybill.

There are a lot of 70s sewing patterns with model credits at The PatternVault.

amanda, that's Marlo Thomas in your first link.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:00 PM on July 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Augh. I am tired. After looking at the link again I rescind most of what I said about the image (and reading farther down into the eBay post I see it's shipping from ID).

Currently exploring Google results related to collectible patterns, but I suspect it's the model rather than the pattern itself that has it in the collectible category.
posted by vignettist at 10:06 PM on July 23, 2017

I posted this on Reddit Sewing.
posted by cda at 10:16 PM on July 23, 2017

1978 - McCalls 5916 - same model?
posted by cda at 10:21 PM on July 23, 2017 [5 favorites]

The OP says it's on UK ebay for £2,500 but when I click on the link, it says US $2,500*. Now I know the pound has taken a tumble recently but it's not on par with the US $, it should be over $3000.

*or RMB 16,919. Does anyone know how to get rid of that? Ebay thinks I'm still in China and DropBox thinks I'm in Holland.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:34 PM on July 23, 2017

Kinda sorta might be Jessica Lange but I'm not 100% sold.

Going to bed now. I'm sure I'll allow this to distract me further in the morning.
posted by vignettist at 10:35 PM on July 23, 2017

lalex your first link is Shelley Hack of Charlie perfume fame!
posted by cda at 10:43 PM on July 23, 2017

I think it's a joke and the model is the seller or a friend.
Just put it up as a funny thing to show friends the history as a model. Not wanting to sell it.
posted by littlewater at 10:52 PM on July 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

oh man, if I'd done a little research on Cybill Shepherd, she made Taxi Driver in 1976! but then she fell out of favor, went home to Memphis and was pregnant with her first daughter in 1979.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:53 PM on July 23, 2017

Response by poster: Sorry, the pound sign was a typo - it's hard to find the dollar on my tablet keyboard!

Thanks for all the guesses so far - if it is the seller or a friend, it's a pretty obscure joke!
posted by mippy at 11:26 PM on July 23, 2017

"373 viewed per hour"

"I have enjoyed the many comments so much!

I think I will be lsting another one if this one happens to sell. Same price, same game, different star."

Clearly the ID hunt/50% discount offer is a great way to get page views. (I would assume that they never had any expectation of actually getting $2500; that price and the 50% offer was just a way to get teh interwebs talking about and linking to the item page.)

But is this a thing? Do collectors out there actually pay $1250 for old printed materials/photos of "celebrities" such as this? Or is this the celebrity photo equivalent of those 1970s mass market paperbacks now going for hundreds of dollars on ebay/ABE (i.e. greedy/deluded seller asking top dollar for attic finds on the outside chance that someone with more money than brains bites)?
posted by tenderly at 11:33 PM on July 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

I think she looks like Sigourney Weaver with a lot of eye makeup.
posted by Polychrome at 3:07 AM on July 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

maybe Melanie Griffith?

sounds like a really original hook to catch someone who'll think they're "winning" 1250£ instead of overpaying by fifty times over (or more)
posted by mirileh at 6:35 AM on July 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

the androgyny comments may be key to solving the mystery

"I have enjoyed the many comments so much!"

I feel dumb asking, but how the heck do you see the comments on this eBay listing? I've looked up and down the page and don't see anything, and certainly no mention of androgyny ...
posted by Mothlight at 7:17 AM on July 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

Mothlight - sellers can choose to display comments/messages/questions - h/she's obviously choosing not to, just reading them.
posted by humph at 7:29 AM on July 24, 2017

In line with "related to someone famous/someone famous's mother/aunt/brother/cousin" - she reminds me of Emma Watson. Perhaps more, though, for the expression than for any particular facial feature. That expression really stands out.

She also reminds me of Kate Mulgrew, who is around the right age.
posted by Crystal Fox at 7:41 AM on July 24, 2017

Kate Mulgrew is a possibility, she's got the jaw and the slight widow's peak although her eyes seem farther apart than the model.

She was on Ryan's Hope in the mid-70s but by 1979, she was starring in Mrs Columbo. I can see taking a modelling assignment while working in NYC on a soap but then she was out in LA. Doesn't rule it out.

My take now is the seller thinks it's someone famous, therefore collectible, and is mistaken but at any rate it serves to drive eyeballs to her website. Antiques Roadshow is probably her favorite show.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:48 AM on July 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ahh, McCall's thanked me for my interest but "that information is not available". I'm probably on file as a big weirdo now.
posted by cakebatter at 11:37 AM on July 24, 2017 [14 favorites]

It does look like Melanie Griffith. Whoever it is has a slightly more prominent lower than upper jaw which is very uncommon for a model. Can be corrected but she looks very young in this photo so it's possible she had orthodontia or surgery after. Still it really narrows it down
posted by fshgrl at 7:13 PM on July 24, 2017

This would make a great Reply All.
posted by Miko at 10:30 AM on July 25, 2017 [5 favorites]

From my roommate:

"Nope don't recognize her. She does resemble a girl on Days of our Lives & the biggest loser but it can't think of her name"
posted by Melismata at 11:43 AM on July 25, 2017

Melanie Griffith is active on Twitter, you could try asking her?

Because I'm stupidly keen to find out now...
posted by humph at 4:01 PM on July 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to point out that the eBay entry is same listing but with a different pattern and person than we were discussing over the weekend.

Calling foul.
posted by rw at 4:13 PM on July 26, 2017 [8 favorites]

Even weirder! I kind of love it. What's the game?
posted by Miko at 8:23 PM on July 26, 2017

Wow, that's a weird development. I am vacillating between just rolling my eyes "whatever" and being really disappointed it's not a real quest.
posted by scrowdid at 10:15 PM on July 26, 2017

Okay, for new lady I submit: Yolanda van den Herik (later Hadid, later Foster).
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:38 PM on July 26, 2017

I refuse to move on until finding out who the first one is (please tell us)!
posted by mirileh at 1:02 AM on July 27, 2017

Kiera Knightley's mother? Just looks like her in the eyes and mouth. I believe her mother was an actress.

wait. where am I?
posted by amanda at 10:13 AM on July 27, 2017

The seller may make revisions during the listing period. However, the seller cannot change some of the information, such as format or duration of the listing

Seems like changing the actual product would not be allowed but I have no clue with eBay.

This new one resembles Kate Hudson, ha!
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:14 PM on July 27, 2017

Looks kind of like Lilith from Frasier to me.
posted by Justin Case at 8:19 AM on July 28, 2017

A new one! 90% off this time. I have zero clue, her face is kind of scrunched up and tilted away.
posted by eeek at 7:41 PM on July 28, 2017

curioser and curioser
posted by Miko at 7:59 PM on July 28, 2017

Jacqueline Bisset immediately popped in my brain but certainly in the late 70s she was making major dollars with acting.
posted by kthanksbai at 12:15 PM on August 1, 2017

She'd be too young, I think, but my first thought was Belinda Carlisle, singer and Go-Go's frontperson.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 6:37 AM on August 4, 2017

For the first pattern? Huh. No widows peak but she's got the look per this photo
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:14 PM on August 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Bond girl Tula has been mentioned, and I think that's pretty close. It would make for interesting trivia beyond her being just another model. I'm not sure which picture we're talking about at this point, though.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:09 AM on August 11, 2017

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