Patenting Fashion: Examining the Design Work of Marion McCoy, 1938 - 1944
Patents offer significant information for researchers, and can provide insights into the history of object design. Fashion designers have also sought protection from copying through patents, and while designers filed for apparel patents intermittently throughout the twentieth century, for a short period of time between 1937 and 1944, the number of garments patented increased dramatically. This research, conducted as part of an undergraduate research grant, focused on one designer, Marion McCoy (1912-1960), who began her career in the St. Louis junior market. She worked as head designer for Carlye Originations from the company's formation in 1938 until 1944. During that time she filed 96 dress patents. The purpose of this study was to analyze McCoy's patents to understand her overall design style, to develop a system to evaluate the design details, and to analyze changes in the designs before and during World War II.