Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895)
About 1910, Paris
Satin, overlaid with silk net embroidered with silver gilt thread and bugle beads; bodice of ruched silk velvet
Museum no. T.57-1961
Given by Lady Hoyer Millar
Around 1910, leading fashion houses such as Worth created evening dresses with a straight silhouette. Their impact depended on the juxtaposition of colours and a variety of luxurious and richly decorated fabrics. On this garment, vivid velvet pile is set against light-reflecting beadwork, and the triple-tiered matt net overskirt covers the sheen of the trained satin skirt. The pillar-like look exemplified by this dress replaced the exaggerated curves of the early 1900s. It also shows how designers broke the strong vertical emphasis by creating overskirts with horizontal lines. The bodice, however, is still boned (nine bones).
Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895) was a celebrated couture dressmaker in Paris. Born in England at Bourne in Lincolnshire, he started working at the age of 12 in a draper’s shop in London. After working for various haberdashers and silk mercers, he left for Paris in 1845. In 1858 he went into partnership with a Swedish businessman, Otto Bobergh, and opened his own house. He was soon patronised by the Empress Eugénie (1826-1920), wife of the French Emperor, Napoleon III, and her influence was instrumental to his success. Obtaining made-to-measure clothes from his house was a symbol of social and financial success. They were appreciated for their beauty, elegance and fine workmanship.