26 June 2008

The Father of Haute Couture

Ball Gown 1872

Day Dress 1883

Evening Dresses 1887/1892

Evening Dress 1893

Evening Dress 1898

Continuing on from yesterday's post on Victorian Fashion, I found it somewhat impossible to continue without mentioning one of the most important fashion desginers in history, the so called 'Father of Haute Couture', Charles Frederick Worth.

Born in 1825 in England, Worth took his first steps in the fashion world as an apprentice for a textile merchant based in London. Whilst there he would gain an intricate knowledge of fabrics and supply for dressmakers. In London Worth also spent his time wandering through the extensive collections of the National Gallery. The historical portraits would serve as a major inspiration and influence for his own designs.

Worth moved to Paris in 1845, where he found work with the prominent French firm, Gagelin, who dealt with luxury textiles goods. He would quickly become their top salesman and eventually opened his own firm as a garment designer in 1858. With the restoration of the Royal House by Napoleon III in 1852, Paris was reinstated as Imperial Capital. As the capital, Paris would be host to a variety of State Occasions, the importance of which would bring Worth's designs into the spotlight.

Napoleon had a grand vision of Paris, wanting to modernise, but also make Paris the cultural showcase of Europe. As a result Worth repeatedly gained patronage in Court circles, his lavish attention to detail and fit were highly regarded and secured his place as top dressmaker. Indeed although he catered primarily to specific court clients, he also made general designs for his workshop, from which clients could choose a design to be custom made for them. In this way he had both one off pieces, but also more accessible pieces. This is not to say that he was only known in the higher circles of society however, by the 1870s his name was appearing in general fashion magazines.

The actual historic House of Worth was opened in 1871, when Worth reopened his workshop following the Franco-Prussian war. Unfortunately Worth died in 1895, however his work was continued by his sons, and the House of Worth would continue as a herald for quality and luxury. The House finally came to an end in 1952, when Worth's great-grandson retired from the business.

Currently playing: Spaz - N.E.R.D / SOS - Jonas Brothers

xxxx

21 comments:

  1. GREAT post! I once read a book on Charles Worth, I owe so much to that man... ^_-

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  2. Be still my little heart! I just fell in LOVE with the last one. LOVE, I say!

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  3. cool dresses, I love that old style of glamour. not sure if i mentioned it before, but your blog name is trés cool! :)

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  4. It feels like such a sad story for a great fashion influence. I'm sure the ghost of his designs still lives on. BTW, Spaz is my favorite song off the album.

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  5. Gorgeous! I think I missed my era b/c I would love to wear dresses like these!!

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  6. Aw, I kinda wish I lived back then, it looks a bit cool actually to wear that kind of dresses.

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  7. This was really interesting! I think the ones in the 3rd pictures are my favorite, they define "victorian" pretty well, no?
    Excellent post!

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  8. I love your blog ... I'm also an art history student :) ... P.S.Thanks for stopping by my blog ... I was wondering if you would like to exchange links?

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  9. hi there! while ur fashion knowledge and writing skills is 10x better than me (great post btw, and im really planning to sit down on this entry! - too much my mind cud take! haha!) we really have the same taste for music! Spazz is on my playlist! ahhh..!

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  10. excellent post and stunning pictures-thanks for stopping by my blog too!!

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  11. His work is extraordinary ... thanks such a great post :)

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  12. So true what you said about Internet shopping. Maybe people should keep shopping diaries the way others keep food diaries--supposedly when we see our consumption it will slow us down!

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  13. He is a great man, definitely. Last semester at school we learned a whole lot about his amazing mind.

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  14. you always leave such uplifting comments, thank you!! :)

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  15. Awesome post. I love those dresses! Very interesting.

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  16. OK - the fabric of the last image, and the fabric of this oscar de la renta dress (that i really really really really want to wear to my sister's wedding but it's worth as much as my student loan for the year...grrr) http://www.net-a-porter.com/product/27564

    - seeing the same similarities as me?

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  20. excellent post and stunning pictures-thanks for stopping by my blog too!!

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