Design House: House of Worth (French, 1858–1956)

Designer: Charles Frederick Worth (French (born England), Bourne 1825–1895 Paris)

Date: 1883–85

Culture: French

Medium: silk

Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Shepley, 1953

Accession Number: C.I.53.63a, b


Lavish textiles were not only used for evening wear in Worth's designs, as this day dress of cut and uncut voided velvet attests. The ensemble also provides an example of Worth's practice of incorporating elements of historic dress in his designs. The large scale of the pomegranate and floral motif follow the style of Louis XIV textile patterns. The bodice and overskirt, made in one piece and worn over a separate skirt, is known as a polonaise, a modified version of an eighteenth-century style popularized by Marie Antoinette. A day dress like this would have been appropriate for walking or making social calls. The back of the polonaise has been expertly draped to accommodate the bustle worn by fashionable women in the 1880s.