Ball gown, C.F. Worth

Ball gown, C.F. Worth

Ball gown
Charles Frederick Worth (1825-95)
About 1900, Paris
Silk velvet, trimmed with diamante; petticoat, sleeves and neck edgings are modern replacements in
the style of Worth
Museum no. T.459 to B-1974
Given by the Duke and Duchess of Kent

This dress is typical of very early 1900s eveningwear. The torso is moulded by a rigid whalebone corset into an hourglass shape with a straight, flat abdomen. The dress exposes the décolletage and shoulders, and the long skirt is fitted around the hips and fluted towards the hem. There is a train, but no bustle.

It was made by Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895), a celebrated Parisian couture dressmaker. He was born in Bourne, Lincolnshire, and started working at the age of 12 in a draper's shop in London. Eight years later he moved to Paris, where he opened his own fashion house in 1858. He was soon patronised by the Empress Eugenie and her influence was instrumental to his success. His clothes, admired for their elegance and fine workmanship, became an important symbol of social and financial advancement.