Packed away in our vaults is a navy and blue striped silk satin and velvet dinner dress with lace, sequins and bead trim designed by the House of Worth .
Charles Frederick Worth (1825 – 1895) began his life in England and as a young man worked as a clerk for textile manufacturers and in his spare time studied historical portraits in art galleries. He moved to Paris and became a salesman for Gagelin textile goods, shawls and ready made garments. Worth persuaded the owners to open a small dressmaking department making his beautiful wife his model. Charles and Marie had two sons Gaston-Lucien and Jean-Philippe.
His designs were shown at the Great Exhibition in London (1851) and Exposition Universelle in Paris (1855). He sought the patronage of Empress Eugenie, wife of Napolean III and before long his gowns were sought after by the aristocracy. Lavish fabrics and trims, historical elements and fit were elements in his design. He was the first couturier to sign his work, use live models and garments were tailor made for clients who visited his shop (not following the tradition of going to the client). Known for his self promotion “The Father of Haute Couture catered to clients from Europe and the United States and his status carried his work into fashion magazines by the 1870’s.
After Charles Frederick Worth’s death in 1895, his son Gaston-Lucien took over the business aspect and maintained its high standards while Jean-Philippe continued designing after his father’s esthetic with the use of fine fabrics and trims. Jean-Philippe designed this gown in 1897. The House of Worth closed after the death of Charles Frederick Worth’s grandson Jean-Charles, in 1952.