Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Afternoon dress

Design House:
House of Worth (French, 1858–1956)
Designer:
Charles Frederick Worth (French (born England), Bourne 1825–1895 Paris)
Date:
1889
Culture:
French
Medium:
silk, metal
Credit Line:
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Edith Gardiner, 1926
Accession Number:
2009.300.1681
Not on view
Worth was credited with creating the princess line in about 1873. This shape was due to seaming from the neck, over the bust and into the skirt without interruption, as with many of the designs before it. This dress has a sense of grandeur about it in its historical reference exemplified by the sleeves and metal lace bolero evoking styles of the Medicis.

Charles Frederick Worth was born in England and spent his young adulthood working for textile merchants in London while researching art history at museums. In 1845 he moved to Paris and worked as a salesman and a dressmaker before partnering with Otto Bobergh to open the dressmaking shop, Worth and Bobergh, in 1858. They were soon recognized by royalty and major success followed. In 1870 Worth became the sole proprietor of the business. At his shop, Worth fashioned completed creations which he then showed to clients on live models. Clients could then order their favorites according to their own specifications. This method is the origin of haute couture. Worth designed gowns which were works of art that implemented a perfect play of colors and textures created by meticulously chosen textiles and trims. The sheer volume of the textiles he employed on each dress is testimony to his respect and support of the textile industry. Worth's creative output maintained its standard and popularity throughout his life. The business continued under the direction of his sons, grandsons and great-grandsons through the first half of the twentieth century.
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