Attributed to Charles Frederick Worth (French (born England), Bourne 1825–1895 Paris)
Attributed to Jean-Philippe Worth (French, 1856–1926)
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Anonymous gift, In memory of Mrs. John Roebling, 1970
Not on view
Worth was known for including historical references from his research and this dress is an exceptional example of his skill. This dress combines 17th-century and neoclassical references into a beautiful cohesive finished product. The sleeves, slashing and Vandyke edging refers to dress of the 17th century. The sleeves in particular were known as Marie sleeves, inspired by Marie de'Medici (1575-1642). Alongside these sleeves are the empire waist and beadwork decorations referencing earlier 19th-century designs.
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.
Jean-Philippe Worth began as an assistant to his father, Charles Frederick Worth, in 1875. Gradually he was allowed to create his own designs and when his father died in 1895, he became the lead designer for the house. He was praised for making elaborate artistic gowns with intricate trimmings on unique textiles, much like his father had before him. Although the House of Worth was still favored by royalty and celebrities through the turn of the century, their styles were no longer the forefront of French fashion after 1900. Around 1910 Jean-Philippe limited his design work to important orders and hired his nephew, Jean-Charles Worth, as the new lead designer before leaving the company entirely after World War I.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Marking: Signature label woven into petersham: "Worth/Paris"
Brooklyn Museum. "The Opulent Era: Fashions of Worth, Doucet & Pingat," December 1, 1989–February 26, 1990.