Along with the development of the fashion industry during the late 19th Century was also the development of paper patterns. During this time, McCall’s, Demorest, and Butterrick’s, along with a slew of lesser known companies, got their start and by 1900, printed paper patterns was a thriving industry. While a majority of the garments represented by these patterns were designed by unknown individuals (at least unknown to us today), there were some patterns that bore the name of a known designer and one such example was a pattern produced in 1882 that was licensed by Charles Worth. Below is an advertisement for a polonaise that appeared in the March 1882 edition of the magazine The Ladies’ Treasury:
And interesting fact is that several of the major couture houses in Paris did license some of their designs for reproduction as sewing patterns, partly as a measure to counter design piracy and knock-offs (which was as serious a problem in the fashion industry then as it is now) and as a means of providing some publicity. Also, what is even more interesting is that one sees this phenomenon as early as the above example- Worth tended to be extremely secretive about his designs and tended to shy away from most publicity- he rarely granted interviews to journalists nor did he allow outsiders to visit his workrooms. It certainly raises some interesting questions and we hope to be able find out more about it. Finally, it would be very interesting to locate a copy of this pattern although we suspect that it would probably bear little that’s unique compared to similar designs from more anonymous sources.