Charles Frederick Worth bigraphy, stories - English fashion designer

Charles Frederick Worth : biography

13 October 1825 - 10 March 1895

Charles Frederick Worth (13 February 1825- 10 October 1895), widely considered the Father of Haute couture, was an English fashion designer of the 19th century, whose works were produced in Paris.Jacqueline C. Kent (2003). The Oliver Press, Inc., 2003Claire B. Shaeffer (2001). "Originating in mid- 19th-century Paris with the designs of an Englishman named Charles Frederick Worth, haute couture represents an archaic tradition of creating garments by hand with painstaking care and precision". Taunton Press, 2001


The life and work of Charles Worth has been celebrated with the opening of the Charles Worth Gallery at the Heritage Centre at Bourne, in Lincolnshire, his birthplace.

Mrs Brenda Jones, chairman of Bourne Civic Society that administers the centre, and her husband Jim, decided to create the exhibition with one of his famous dresses as the centrepiece. The perfect solution would have been to purchase an original dress but they are virtually unobtainable and all surviving examples are scattered around museums in Europe and America. But photographs do exist and she recruited seamstresses to copy one of the costumes in minute detail, the materials, the sewing and the means of display, and the gallery was given a civic opening in April 2006.

The dress that has been copied, using material from the period and specially bought from London, is a style known as Visite and made from off white silk with braid and bead trimming, originally designed by Worth in 1885 and bearing the label of his salon at No 7 Rue de la Paix in Paris. This is the centrepiece of the display with two additional dresses, together with other costumes and accessories loaned by members and friends including an original jacket bought from the House of Worth in Paris. Framed photographs and documents illustrating Worth’s life and career adorn the walls and a computer in the foyer has been specially programmed to play a continual pictorial record of his dress designs.

The ladies responsible for the project, namely Lesley Wade, Clare Hart and Debbie Hallam, have now completed a second replica Worth creation for the gallery, this time a magnificent reception dress in red velvet and silk that has enhanced the exhibition even further. The original of this dress was fashioned circa 1883 and was graced with his exclusive label "Worth 7, Rue de la Paix".

Court Presentation Dress

Court Presentation Dress by Charles Worth (see image in Gallery)

This presentation dress, c.1895, is from the House of Charles Frederick Worth. The House of Worth was in many ways a new departure, marking a shift from the old fashioned dressmaker to something much closer to the modern couturier or fashion designer.

The dress was designed specifically for presentation at court, worn by a Debutante. It is made from heavy pure silk satin, hand embroidered with metallic beads, sequins and diamante in a sumptuous floral design. It is trimmed with hand-made lace and like all presentation dresses has a richly worked long train. Trains, which had always formed an important part of court dress, extended from three feet to eight feet by 1870 and even longer by the end of the century. Trains were fastened at this period from the waist and were often made of costly and ornate materials.

Presentation at court was an important milestone in the life of a young woman, marking her emergence into the adult world and providing her with a passport to the most exclusive social circles–-and the chance of getting a rich husband. It is thought that Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, was the first queen to have young ladies presented to her at drawing rooms as an acknowledgment of their ‘coming out’ in society. From 1837 these young girls were known as debutantes.

This tradition drew to a close in the 1950s.


Image:Winterhalter Elisabeth.jpg| Dress designed by Charles Frederick Worth for Elisabeth of Austria painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter.

Image:Worthdress thumb.jpg|From collection of St Edmundsbury Borough Council Moyse's Hall Museum Bury St Edmunds.

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