Starting her career at a time when American fashion slavishly copied Paris designs, Jo Copeland created glamorous outfits that were uniquely American. Copeland took classes at the Art Students League and graduated from the Parsons School of Design. By age twenty, she was already working as a designer, putting her older brothers through Harvard Law School. Determined not to simply mimic Parisian designs, Copeland used luxury materials in unconventional ways—her signature “two-piece suit” was supported by silk underpinnings to avoid the need for a bra, blouse, or slip, and what seemed to be the fur-and-rhinestone collar of the jacket was actually part of the dress underneath. Her luxurious designs attracted buyers who longed for glamour after the lean years of the Great Depression. She was on the faculty of the Fashion Institute of Technology and the advisory board of the Girls’ Club of New York, and served as president of the Manhattan Industrial Home for the Blind. Her honors included the Neiman-Marcus award for best designer of the year in 1944, a citation from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and an award from the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Jo Copeland." (Viewed on December 6, 2016) <https://jwa.org/people/copeland-jo>.