Some Gorgeous Worth Gowns

I can’t think of anything to say today so how about feasting your eyes upon some beautiful examples of the work of the iconic design house, Worth. Inventive English fashion designer Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895) is generally considered to be the father of haute couture thanks to the luxurious and inspirational designs produced by the fashion house, Worth and Bobergh, that he founded in Paris in the 1850s and which served as a forerunner for the likes of Chanel, Dior and Yves St Laurent.

I first came across Worth as a little girl when I went through a phase of reading my grandmother’s Barbara Cartland collection and particularly enjoyed one that involved a gawky spectacle wearing Irish heiress marrying an indifferent peer then going on honeymoon in Paris and losing the glasses, dressing up in a lot of Worth goodies and pretending to be a Parisian ingenue called Desirée or similar in order to woo her own husband. I’ve tried looking on Google for the title but ‘cartland novel honeymoon Paris’ isn’t coming up with anything, funnily enough.

Oh wait, it was called Desire of the Heart. Check it out, if you like that sort of thing – it’s a great read.

Not content with dressing Empress Eugènie and all the most fashionable, elegant and celebrated women of his day, Worth also created one of the most famous gowns of all time:

Empress Elizabeth of Austria in an unforgettable swirl of foaming gauze. This has surely got to be one of the most romantic dresses ever.

Ball gown, 1900.

Ball gown, 1898.

Tea dress, 1900.

Evening dress, 1902.

Evening dress, 1898.

Evening dress, 1900.

Evening dress, 1900.

Evening dress, 1872.

Afternoon dress, 1872.

Afternoon dress, 1872.

Evening dress, 1887.

Evening dress, 1897.

They’re beautiful aren’t they?

17 thoughts on “Some Gorgeous Worth Gowns

  • Sheila

    They are ALL gorgeous – I’d love to wear them – even if it meant having stays and all the other accoutrements. How regal are they? *sighs*

  • Leslie Carroll

    They are scrumptious! I’ve always wanted to wear everything the House of Worth ever created. Interesting … the silhouette on the bubblegum-pink satin evening gown from 1900 is “so” 1790! Just goes to show you that then, as now, fashion is cyclical!

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      Oh me too – Worth and 1950s Dior are perfection and I would happily wear everything they produced!

      I noticed that too – it’s a very close match to a 1790s silhouette isn’t it? I’ve noticed that a few times with dresses of that period, actually, which is nice but sometimes a bit confusing! Possibly Empress Eugènie’s passion for all things Marie Antoinette had an effect on high fashion in the mid to late 19th century? :)

  • Sally Quilford

    These are gorgeous, Melanie! I too read/still read ahem, Barbara Cartland and love reading about the dresses by Worth.

    I don’t know if you’re aware, but in the film The Phantom of the Opera, the dress worn and hairstyle worn by Christine when she sings ‘Think of Me’ is inspired by the one worn by Empress Elizabeth. There’s a picture of it on imdb here

    and it’s mentioned in the trivia here (halfway down the page – it says it’s a replica, but I don’t think it is exactly the same).

  • Suzy

    Oh just swooning, here! Have been thinking a lot about Worth since reading My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin (have you read it? I loved it! Full of descriptions of gorgeous Worth creations) and so wish we lived in an age where one had tea dresses & afternoon dresses and day dresses and and and…! Though I am sure we should find all that re-dressing somewhat tedious these days – it would be Worth it! (I apologise profusely for that parting shot. Really, I do). X

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      I have had that book on my wishlist for months but still haven’t read it! Will do so now, definitely!

      Haha, I think all the dress changes would get really tiresome wouldn’t they!

  • Sharon

    These Worth dresses are so gorgeous! Think i’ve fallen in love with the house of Worth!!! I too wish we had such marvellous dresses to wear but alas these days it’s all about cheap comfort!

  • Anne

    Good grief, Madame G, I remember that Barbara Cartland story! Though you’re doing better than me, because I didn’t remember that BC wrote it. There must have been something about it for it to stay in my memory, because most BC novels slide straight on through my consciousness without leaving a trace. A bit racy for BC, because the heiress seduces her own husband without him recognizing her at all, which makes him a typical aristocratic cad of the times, I guess, but it’s All Right because they are married (even if one half of the couple doesn’t know it!) BC philosophy encapsulated – if you want to get your man you need gorgeous gowns and plenty of makeup in your arsenal :)

  • Jeannine Falino

    Gorgeous images, wicked text, love it — but no information on the sources….am I looking in the wrong places? thanks so much!

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      That’s so weird. There was originally a bit at the end of the post to say that all images are from the collection of the Met Museum in New York but it seems to have cut it off! I seem to recall that I wrote this post in Pages and then pasted it in so that seems the most likely explanation!

      Sorry about that – anyway, yes, they are all in the Met.

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