Fashion Innovations

Madame Demorest's entrepreneurial success can be attributed to her astute understanding of the American fashion business as a combination of creativity, marketing, distribution, and brand identity. She claimed a number of innovative products, including a line of comfortable corsets, an affordable hoopskirt, the Imperial Dress-elevators (loop fasteners enabling skirts to be raised), and a sewing machine that could sew backwards; moreover, she developed the Excelsior Dress Model drafting system, a tool for making dress patterns. However, her mass-produced and marketed paper dress patterns remain her most important contribution. Madame Demorest's foray into paper patterns came at a time of great social change, when a growing middle class was clamoring for access to affordable fashions and technical advances like the sewing machine were becoming increasingly common in the home, making these fashion ambitions possible. Madame Demorest's paper patterns reached women across America and Europe, bringing them up-to-date fashions, a feat of no little importance.

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