Rate the Dress: Worth Jr plays with gold embroidery

Sometimes I think I should find a way to tally not just the ratings that are given in my ‘Rate the Dresses’, but also the ratings that weren’t given.  After all, if you can’t even be bothered to comment on a garment, that’s a much worse criticism than being moved to pillory it.  Such was the case with Marie Christine last week.  Most of the ratings were quite complimentary, but there were so few that I suspect many of you found it too bland to be of interest.  I’m afraid I agree – the dress/Brunswick was boring, the sleeves awkward and bulky with their double flounces, the headdress and necklace overdone and awkward, but oh, that lace fichu!  And the elegant apron!  And that dear, dear little spinning wheel!  Perhaps that’s not what you loved, but you gave it an 8.1 out of 10.

This week I return to something more likely to prove of universal interest: turn-of-the-century Worth.  In the past you have not always been so complimentary of Worth Jr’s creations.  Perhaps this turn-of-the-century frock, with its exotic and fanciful embroidery, will win your approval.

Ball Gown, silk, metal, rhinestones, House of Worth, Jean-Philippe Worth, 1896–1900, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ball Gown, silk, metal, rhinestones, House of Worth, Jean-Philippe Worth, 1896–1900, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ball Gown, silk, metal, rhinestones, House of Worth, Jean-Philippe Worth, 1896–1900, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ball Gown (detail), silk, metal, rhinestones, House of Worth, Jean-Philippe Worth, 1896–1900, Metropolitan Museum of Art

What do you think?  Do you like the cream and gold with touches of grey-blue and grey-green?  Is the exotic embroidery just novel enough to lift the simple silhouette, or does it turn the dress into a Orientalist cliché?  Has JP lived up to his fathers standard?  Excelled it even?  Or is he doomed to forever live in his shadow?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

31 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Marmota approves. It sits a bit awkwardly at some places; I wonder if it’s the manequin or the bead embroidery having pulled the fabric just a bit over the years? Still. One of those things I would wear immediately if I could… it takes all the graceful features of the 1890s and leaves all the silly ones be. And I love the toned-down colours: very much me. :D
    10/10

  2. Cyranetta says:

    The skirt is truly lovely, but I find the bodice and sleeves look more encrusted than designed. The fabric color looks like it was designed to glow in candlelight

    8/10

  3. Julia says:

    I love it. The colours woudn´t flatter me but otherwise I would love to wear it if I had a possibility to. I give
    10/10

  4. karenb says:

    I got all excited when I saw the name Worth as I have seen some Worth designs that I love but maybe I hadn’t noticed whether it was the father or son designing them.But I don’t really like it. It looks a bit frumpy to me. I don’t see it as elegant enough for a ball. Maybe something the mother or aunt sitting at the side of the ballroom would wear.
    The fabric looks a bit like a tablecloth or curtaining and the embroidery near the bottom of the skirt looks so heavy.
    Nice colour though.

    5/10

  5. Zach says:

    I think I actually have this picture saved on my phone! Needless to say, I love it. I have a thing for the whole cream/ivory and gold combination. Oh, and I also have a thing for gowns from the 1900-1920 range (not to say that I don’t absolutely love anything before or after it). I think that a lot of the gowns in that era are some of the most lavish and beautiful of all gowns (and ensembles–who doesn’t love the tiaras?). The only complaint with this dress is that the back is a bit plain compared to the front. A little bit more decoration would be perfect, but as it is, I still love it a great deal!

    Ten out of ten!

  6. Black Tulip says:

    The more I look at this, the more I find things I don’t like. The skirt front just looks like a jumble of randomly placed motifs. The skirt back is lovely, but what’s going on with the wrapover effect on the bodice back? It doesn’t really work.

    I could overlook the messy bodice back if the skirt front only had the centre motif of the three plastered on it. As it is, the overall effect is that the fabric was embroidered in the wrong places, and then Worth just had to make the best of it.

    5/10

  7. Caroline says:

    It’s gorgeous I want it! Still the front of the skirt is awkward and I think it should be symmetrical. 9/10

  8. Rachelle says:

    9/10 and that’s only because the colour is a little too drab for me. Love the shape and the embroidery on it, gorgeous!

  9. Daniel says:

    It’s beautiful but kinda boring. Not sure why it lacks interest – certainly not for trying, the embroidery is stunning, but the overall effect is – actually, this dress would look amazing on the right woman, but as a dress, I think it is let down by being out of context – it is like a lovely frame missing the picture in the middle. Gonna have to say 7 out of 10 as it’s not interesting me overmuch, although I kept looking for an Arcimboldo-esque face in the skirt embroidery.

  10. I love the simple elegant design, and the gentle colors. The embroidery, though lovely, seems a bit ornate, a bit too stiff for the flowing silk of the dress, but the overall effect is good. A 7.5.

  11. T. Sedai says:

    I LOVE this dress! It is so elegant! The colors are perfect, and the embroidery makes a statement without being too over the top. Stunning.

    10/10

  12. SueH says:

    This has so much potential, but curious gaps – why would the top cross over be in the opposite side from the skirt opening? Why is there so much empty area in back (better to sit on for sure)
    I do think there is some problem with the way it is displayed that doesn’t show it at its best.
    7/10

    • I actually like the top crossover being on the opposite. I think if it sat on the same side, it would look way too much like a wrapper. This way, it keeps its dignity, so to say. Does that make sense?

  13. Claire Payne says:

    Hmmmm…….I love the colour and how the elaborate embroidery and decoration is somehow balanced out by much simpler lines and shape than I would have expected. Very wearable. 9 out of 10 from me.

  14. Carolyn says:

    My daughter (she’s 5) took one look and gave it a 10/10. She thinks I should be able to wear it. I think I agree with her.

  15. Sarah says:

    I like the back of it, and the bodice, but I’m not sure about the odd asymmetry of the wrap-front skirt. Maybe it works better when sweeping into ballrooms than in a static display. 8/10

  16. Erin says:

    I think it is a gorgeous dress, but I feel like something different should be going on at the waist. It needs a sash or something. However, I still think it is amazing and give it a 9/10.

  17. Lynn Brooks says:

    10 of 10. i would so wear the holy heck out of this.

  18. Lene says:

    This is largely a like for me.
    I do think that the presentation is doing this dress a major disservice. For instance, there is excess fabric pooling at waistlevel in the back. The bodice does not seem to be filled out in front, causing sagging.

    Those things add to the sad-and-dumpy-look of the thing.

    I like the colour scheme of the dress, and the embroidery is wonderful. The placement on the skirt sure is unfortunate.

    The dress itself would be a 9, but the lopsided embrodery and the awfull presentation drags it down to

    7.5 out of 10 for me….

    • Panth says:

      “Sad-and-dumpy-look” – exactly. Somehow it reminds me a bit of 1830s fashion, but with none of the charm. This dress is matronly – with all the worst connotations of the word.

      I’ll give it a little extra as I fear the presentation is not helping at all.

      5/10

  19. Kim says:

    This dress is for the mature woman, the wife who has had children. Not for the young. It covers what it needs to cover, but has the room to dance. I would bet the skirt would catch the candle light and glitter on the dance floor. The bead work appears to have tarnished over the years, but in its hey day I bet it was brilliant.

    I like the crossed over bodice as the design would allow for the deeper breathing (if it were me gasping) needed while waltzing. The neckline is right for a wearing a pendent necklace. The A-line shirt would allow for movement, and the embroidery weight would keep the skirt from showing the ankles. Bracelets and earrings would also be worn, and complete the glittering ensemble.

    Would I wear it? YES YES YES. 10/10

  20. MJ Ruisi says:

    Deightful…..10

  21. Hayley says:

    10/10! It’s a perfect combination of OTT embellishing and plain gold silk.
    The woman wearing this would be turning heads – as much as the young girls in ‘better’ frocks with ‘better’ figures.

  22. Dawn says:

    This is more my style! I love it! Normally, I prefer Sr to Jr but I think it has more to do with the era than the talent. This dress is matronly enough for a woman of my years without being boring. It would cover my less than charming upper arms and it would keep my too charming “girls” contained! With my coloring, a white and silver theme would be better but I could pull this off with the right necklace. I’d wear it in a heart beat and I’d wear it to a modern function that demanded so much bling! Someone want to make this for me and then take me to the Oscars? 10/10

  23. Stella says:

    Gah! I meant to rate Marie Christine, but I forgot. I read your posts on the phone on the train, but don’t much like commenting on my phone.

    As for this one, I like the bodice, but I’m not sure about the skirt embroidery. Something about it just looks like it’s been spilt on the skirt, if you see what I mean. 7/10

  24. Nicola Lowrie says:

    I love, love, love it. Given half a chance I would wear it to death. I definately think its one for the more mature lady such as myself.

    10/10 and did I say I love it?

  25. Demented Seamstress says:

    It’s not too bad. but not great either. The skirt and fabric are fine, but the embroidery is really chunky and heavy looking.

    Also, why do so many 1890′s dresses have such awkward, lumpy bodices?

    I’m feeling quite indifferent about this one. 5/10

  26. PatW says:

    Ordinarily the House of Worth decorated its creations with wonderful flair and panache. This one just falls flat. The fabric is nice, the embroidery is stunning, but they’re just not put together well. I’ll give it a five, and tell J-P to re-think. He could, and did, do better.

  27. Sandi says:

    I adore this dress! I’m a sucker for embroidery. The chest looks poorly fitted but perhaps this is an issue with the presentation on the mannequin. I’ll go with 9/10.

  28. Anniebelleum says:

    This is a beautiful gown that was not doubt created as a custom piece to fit the body of the woman who wore it.

    The color is a perfect compliment to the incredible amount of detail work that took weeks to complete – all by hand.

    I like the design chances he was taking – such as a different waist style and how the bodice was constructed.

    I would wear in a NY minute.

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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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