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Nov 17, 2016

When Patterns Look (Exactly) Alike

I think I mentioned that we are creating a lot of cowl neck variations in my current draping class at FIT.

I was looking for inspiration online and found the above Vogue Paris Original pattern, a Guy Laroche design from the early 1960's.  I don't believe that's Audrey Hepburn modeling the dress (she was a Givenchy girl), but it could certainly be her body double.

Audrey and Givenchy -- exploring cowl possibilities perhaps?

At $70 on Etsy, the pattern was too costly for me to purchase, but then I stumbled on this -- it may not be exactly the same dress in every detail, but it sure looks like it.

And then a little further research yielded this:

And this.

All of which got me wondering if even Guy Laroche's design is original.  I mean, nothing new under the sun, right? 

Can you think of other examples of competing pattern company dress (or other garment) patterns that are simply too close to be coincidence -- right down to the color fabric shown on the pattern envelope?

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. The draped neckline thing was incredibly popular at the time. My mother had several dresses and tops that featured it. I'm not at all surprised that it's on multiple patterns.

    When I was taking sewing in middle school in the late 60s, one of the pattern choices offered for the third year class was a sleeveless jumpsuit, with a back zipper. There were four or five options from different companies from which we could choose. The differences between them were tiny - slightly deeper bell bottoms on the trousers, fabric belts (or not). Different degrees of depth on the scoop neck. And all were shown with two versions on the cover - plain light weight denim or chambray, and an egregious print of giant flowers. Essentially they all seemed to be riffing on one basic concept.

    1. Ode to large floral prints in deeply saturated grandmother had a 30s chair reupholstered in such a pattern in the 60s. The chair recently went to the alley, it was completely shot, and cost-prohibitive to repair and reupholster.

      For a brief time, it was "an alley installation", one of those trash vignettes which tells its final tale before the big yellow truck comes and scoops it up.

  2. The Laroche pattern loos more refined. The cowl neck and back of neck looks more deluxe. And there are two bust darts (it seems) so the fit would be slightly different.
    Vancouver Barbara

  3. The Laroche pattern looks as if all sorts of fancy cutting and underpinning went on. The rest just took a standard pattern and added a cowl neck. Of course there is nothing new under the sun. You can build a dress on a person, or you can alter a standard pattern. If you know what you are doing with fitting, both dresses will look fine. If you are bad at fitting, even an excellent pattern won't save you.

  4. Yes, I've seen other examples of this. Not *two* different Vogues and Simplicities, but definitely 1960s Simplicity Designer Fashion patterns that look very like Vogues. They tend to have some differences in things as slight as dart placement or as obvious as sleeve options. Where I've been able to look at the instructions, the Vogues tend to have more hand finishes. Presumably the cut has to be at least a bit different as well, since the two brands' fit differed in general.

    S6672 and V1118 are another example. In that case I actually think the Simplicity is better cut. It appears to have a stand collar at the back neck, which might be more likely to stay in place. I've made the Vogue; it has a funnel neck that tends to slide open.

    I assume the named Vogues were licensed. I'm idly curious as to whether Simplicity also had the designer's agreement at the time, or whether these were knockoffs. Not that I'd be up in arms about it either way, 40-50 years later.

  5. I have simplicy 3833 which is the same cut as Vogue 2112 but the vogue pattern is all cut on the bias.... and the vogue one has a 'racier' back (ie its open instead of a zip)

  6. So I get that these are essentially all the same dress, why is it then that I am only interested in the designer pattern that has the huge price tag? It just looks so much nicer.

  7. Pattern companies have licensing agreements with designers, but the "design" isn't actually exclusive, since very little difference is needed for someone else to offer it, especially if it is a fairly straightforward design. An Issey Miyake or something like that would be much harder to imitate without a legal problem.

  8. This is interesting! I'll be keeping my eye out. The one example I know of is a surplice t-shirt pattern: M6513 & V8151.

  9. Hi Peter,
    I have the Vogue 1334, and am in the process of completing it using some perfect cream wool crepe. It may kill you to know I bought from, now a friend, at a vintage fair, for 8NZD, approximately 5US...I knew it was treasure.
    Compared to other cowls I have seen it is a more refined, there are no bust darts, rather the shaping is from the pattern piece being a whole front panel cut on the bias, there are collar pieces that extend out from the shoulder, and form the neck closer at the back, this is carefully folded and stitched to hold the shape, which lifts it and gives it more depth and, I think a terrific shape. The Simplicity 6166 looks quite close.. but has bust darts, and the fabric is not pooling in the same place, in the Laroche the fabric does this at bust level and up...really need to see the backs of patterns huh.
    This is different to other cowl necks I have made which mostly collect the fabric in the front, perhaps joining at the shoulder seam.
    I can send you a good photo of the pattern piece, or the pattern map, I'm sure with your cleverness you can use it to draft the same kind of cowl. Let me know!
    Happy sewing!

  10. I love this dress! Thanks for posting!

  11. Saw this recently. Sew Over It released their Heather dress days within Simplicity releasing 8258. Simplicity's has a few more options but it's virtually identical. The indie pattern is cheaper, but it's a PDF. I found the timing to be very interesting.

  12. Copycat patterns are nothing new and continue today, just like copycat looks in RTW. Not too many years ago, there was a Vogue pattern by Kay Unger for a wiggle dress with a big V neck portrait collar and draping across the midriff. (I'm not gonna go find pics but the catalogue samples were hot pink and golden beige.) Simplicity and New Look both immediately made copycat patterns - I believe the New Look one is still available, actually - and this design also got several years' worth of workout in the RTW line. See also when Vogue released the official Mondrian dress pattern from YSL, and Simplicity + others responded with a range of patterns that covered much more of the line than the single (and comparatively boring!!) one offered by Vogue.

  13. Excuse me, not New Look, Kwik Sew:

  14. I've not had a lot of time to look at patterns much these days, but I have seen a couple of patterns that were EXACTLY like RTW dresses that I've seen. Gertie came out with a dirndl-ish dress pattern for Butterick, which I bought only days prior to seeing what is essentially the same dress by RTW vintage designer, Bernie Dexter. Gertie also created a previous halter dress pattern (I have this one, too) that is so close to the Rita dress but RTW company Pinup Girl Clothing - down to the fabric choices for the featured dress on the envelope - that it's uncanny. To me it seems strange that separate designers would be inspired by the same thing, given that vintage RTW lines don't really have trends that they follow, but what do I know? I'm just glad that these patterns exist because it means that I don't have to pay $$$ for a dress that will still need alterations.

  15. Not quite the same thing but last summer (?) both Butterick & Simplicity offered maxi dress patterns pictured on their envelopes in the same fabric!

  16. Fab patterns , I love a cowl neck, these are all very similar, my fave are the sleeveless version ,looking forward to seeing what your research inspires.


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