Early Worth gowns

I know everyone wants to hear about the talk and see pictures, but that won’t happen yet for three reasons 1) I’m exhausted,  2) I hardly took any, so have to wait to get them from other people and 3) I’ve been asked to do a last minute talk on Sat and it gives me an excuse to pull out a few dresses I haven’t shown in a long time, so I’m frantic with that.

So, in lieu of a Pompeii to Paris post, here is a pretty eye candy post in response to a readers question about early Worth gowns.

There aren’t a lot of extent Worth gowns from before 1870 around, but the ones that are are fascinating glimpses into his aesthetic development, as he became more adventurous with colours and trim.

Here are the early Worth gowns I can find images of:

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Ensemble, Worth and Bobergh , 1862–65, French, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ensemble, Worth and Bobergh , 1862–65, French, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art

From the Chicago History Museum

Wedding gown or evening ensemble, Worth and Bobergh, 1861, Chicago History Museum

From the Museo de la Moda:

Worth & Bobergh, 1867-1870, France, Museo de la Moda, Santiago, Chile

Back view, Worth & Bobergh, 1867-1870, France, Museo de la Moda, Santiago, Chile

From the FIDM Museum:

Worth & Bobergh Day Dress c. 1865 Silk Satin Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection

From the Royal Ontario Museum:

Girl’s formal evening dress, with, sash, Charles Frederick Worth, Silk taffeta, 1867, Royal Ontario Museum

Girl’s formal evening dress, with, sash, Charles Frederick Worth, Silk taffeta, 1867, Royal Ontario Museum

More dresses were on display at  the Sous l’Empire des Crinolines‘ exhibition at the Musee Galliera in Paris.

Day dress, Worth & Bobergh, circa 1869, Silk faille, Gallerie

Some of the gowns in ‘Sous l’Empire des Crinolines‘ were borrowed from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, not surprising as they have what may be the largest collection of early Worth gowns,  including a beautiful golden ivory example, and a luscious apple green frock, and a sweet taupe & rose ensemble.

1865-1870 Charles Frederick Worth Ballgown

The poofs on the front remind me of my Jeanne Samary dress

Worth & Bobergh, Green Silk Dress. Paris, 1866-1867, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Charles Frederick Worth, Taupe Silk Evening Dress with Rose Silk Trimmings. Paris, 1867-1870, PMA

From Beverly Birks Vintage Haute Couture Collection:

Worth afternoon dress, 1869-70

And from the Museum of the City of New York come four fabulous early Worth frocks, including what may be the earliest identified Worth gown and a stunning extent wedding dress with two bodices.

Ball gown, 1860, Worth, MCNY

 

Dress with day and evening bodices, 1864-67, Worth, MCNY

Evening dress, 1866-67, House of Worth, MCNY

Charles Frederick Worth, Evening Gown of Pale Blue Silk Taffeta. Paris, 1860s

Wedding dress with two bodices (evening bodice), 1869, House of Worth MCNY

Wedding dress with two bodices (day bodice), 1869, House of Worth MCNY

From paintings:

Elizabeth of Austria by Winterhalter, 1865

The empress Eugénie surrounded by her ladies-in-waiting, Franz Xavier Winterhalter, 1855.

There are also a couple of (well done) remakes of some of Empress Elisabeth of Austria’s most famous Worth dresses of the 1860s.  Unfortunately, I have yet to identify who made them!

Also check out this Flickr set of scans from a 1920s book of Worth fashions – it features a couple of early, and rare, photographs of the women in Worth ballgowns of the 1860s.

10 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Gail says:

    Man, that’s ALOT of dress.

  2. MrsC says:

    One can see the undeniable appeal of these gorgeous frocks to the wearer, and also why the fashion didn’t last. Rather like any extreme fashion, the novelty wears off quickly in the face of impracticality hehehe. But WOW, Worth rocks a great frock doesn’t he?!?!?!?! (I say he cos Himself is my favourite Worth)

  3. Paul Miller says:

    I love the second dress, the russet one. The constance of the color helps to tone the flourishes that, on some of his gowns, I think read more as dressmaker theatrics than real style.

  4. Miss Bennett says:

    love all the dresses!
    just to let you know the lady in the white dress with the stars in her hair is empress elizabeth of austria not eugenie.

  5. Susanne says:

    The copies of the Worth dresses of Elisabeth (Sisi) were as far as I know done by a sempstress (who seems to remain anonymous) for the Sisi Museum at the Hofburg Wien (Vienna).
    As far as I know, at least the “Polterabendkleid” (white with green embroidery) looks similar the original, but is not historically acurate (e. g. sewn as a dress, not skirt and bodice, wrong colours/embroidery/material…) and was done in quite a hurry.

    But they are working on an authentic copy at the Wagenburg (KHM) , where the original is stored. It was/is a bit of a war between the two museums. There was quite an uproar when the copy of the Sisi Museum went on display.

    Hopefully my english is understandable.
    Greetings from Germany :)

    Susanne

  6. Gillian says:

    I WANT that white frock with the green trim! (the “girl’s formal evening gown” one.) I realise I’m probably too old for the style at this point, but it’s so fresh and lovely!

    • Isn’t it scrumptious? As youthful as it is though, it isn’t too young and girly for an adult to get away with. I think it would be possible to look very elegant and sophisticated in it.

  7. Claire Payne says:

    Drool….drool…..(well except for the scalloped hemlines anyway. For some reason I have taken against this finish).

    Drool…drool….

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Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

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