Today we feature another evening dress from Maison Worth, in this case one from circa 1894:
Worth, Evening Dress, c. 1894; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.1095a, b)
Unfortunately, the pictures haven’t been updated in awhile but from what we can determine, the construction appears to be an ivory or champagne-colored silk brocade or jacquard with a curl motif that runs in vertical stripes up the skirt and then diffuses on the bodice. The upper bodice/neckline and sleeves appear to be a gold/champagne-colored silk velvet decorated with lace. For the silhouette, it definitely reads mid-1890s although it doesn’t precisely follow the typical gigot style of the period; rather, it’s more of puffed sleeves covered with large flaps. It’s an interesting effect and in many ways reminiscent of renaissance style and especially in the way the silk bodice front meets up with the upper velvet neckline.
A big no-no by today’s curatorial standards but it’s nice seeing a Worth dress being worn by a live model (although the dress appears to be somewhat oversized for the model and there’s probably no proper corset on underneath): 🙂
To us, this is one of Worth’s more understated/restrained designs and while it’s by no means a show-stopper, it is elegant and demonstrates an interesting take on mid-1890s style.
Today we take a trip back to the 70s…the 1870s, that is, and more specifically circa 1874 with this afternoon dress from Worth:
Worth, Afternoon Dress, c. 1874; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1975.259.2a, b)
This afternoon dress utilizes the two-color combination style that was typical of early to mid-1870s dresses, consisting of black silk taffeta bodice and outer skirt combined with a pale green/mint green silk taffeta underskirt. What is interesting here is that the bodice and skirts have been cut so as to give the effect of a long robe that opens wide to dramatically reveal the green underskirt. Also, while it’s not easy to make out, the bodice is designed with an underlayer of the same green color- it’s hard to say if it’s a faux vest or simply an inset underlayer. Finally, the neck and front outer bodice edges and cuffs are trimmed with ivory lace. Below is a close-up of the bodice:
The silhouette is fairly standard for the early to mid-1870s and its lines are pretty clean, especially when compared to many 1870s day/afternoon dresses. Note that both sides of the outer skirt are piped with the light green fabric.
The bodice back has a set of carefully sculpted tails that serve to emphasize the train and each tail is emphasized with an outline of the green fabric (which also appears to be the lining color for the tails). Below is a close-up:
Below are some more detailed views of the skirts. It’s interesting that the “outer” and “inner” skirts are really one unit:
Finally, below is a view of the detail where the outer and inner skirts meet:
Compared to many of Worth’s designs, this one is relatively simple emphasizing clean lines with a minimum of trim. In many respects it almost reads “tea gown” although it’s far more substantial and was clearly intended for wear out in public. We’ll have some more interesting 1870s dress styles to show you in the near future so stay tuned! 🙂
Maison Worth has always been a source of inspiration for us and we’re always on the lookout for new (at least to us) designs. Recently, we came across this circa 1902 ball gown/evening dress (the boundary between dress types often seems to be a bit fluid). Unfortunately, not a lot of information is available on it (the Europeana website is a dysfunctional mess) so we’ll have to rely on the pictures themselves. We first start with back and front views:
Worth, Ball Gown, c. 1902; Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti via Europeana Fashion
A floral theme is definitely the focus of this dress style with the an ivory/cream silk satin embroidered with a gold floral pattern. The bottom third of the dress is covered in what appears to be a lace overlay decorated with gold-colored metallic spangles (no doubt these are probably stamped from steel). The bottom lace overlay is blended into the overall design motif and gives the appearance of the flowers and vines emerging from a forest ground cover. In terms of silhouette, this dress follows the graceful lines characteristic of Maison Worth during the late 1890s/early 1900s and the train is graceful but not overpowering. Below is a close-up of the skirt:
Below is a close-up of the lace overlay:
The bodice is an extension of the overall decorative effect, combining the floral and ground cover motifs. The shoulders are given some emphasis with blush-colored tulle and gold-colored lace on the sleeves creates a sleeve effect. Finally, we see sink silk satin running along the neckline and shouldered which combined with the pink sash, create a harmonious three-color combination of pink, gold, and ivory. Below is a close-up of the bodice:
This dress is another nice example of Maison Worth’s designs and follows a similar vein as some of their other works:
Worth, Evening Dress, c. 1902; Fashion Museum Bath
Worth, Evening Gown, c. 1895; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2003.288.1-2)
Stay tuned for more!
Going to the opera, or any formal occasion, required the right outerwear and especially in colder weather. Outerwear during the late 19th Century could range from short capelets all the day to full-on coats and naturally, each couturier had ideas on outerwear styles. Here’s just one style, in this case a circa 1890 opera case that was made by Jacques Doucet:
Doucet, Opera Cape, c. 1890; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1995.177.2)
This cape is constructed from a gold silk floral patterned brocade and trimmed along the collar and shoulders with fur. The capelet and lining appear to be be a yellow/gold silk, probably a satin but it’s hard to tell from the picture- unfortunately, there are no further details on the construction or materials used.
Now, although couturiers often convinced their clients that garments were custom designs made just for them, this wasn’t always the case as with this second opera cape that was also made by Doucet about the same time:
Doucet, Opera Case, c. 1900s; Whitaker Auctions
Unfortunately, no other photos are available but it’s safe to say that it appears to have been constructed of a copper and black silk brocade with a floral paisley-like pattern motif. The collar and shoulders are also trimmed in fur and the top capelet is in a gray/lavender silk satin- it’s probably the same as the lining if the first example is any guide. The above two capes are an interesting style and definitely worthy of reconstruction. 🙂
La Maison Worth and the fashion press did not seemingly appear to have a close relationship yet, it seemed that there was a steady number of Worth designs that were featured in Harper’s Bazar during the 1890s, no doubt pushed along by Charles Worth’s two sons, Jean and Gaston. Below is one evening dress design that was featured on the cover of the January 20, 1894 issue of Harper’s Bazar:
Below is a description of the dress:
This superb gown of rose-colored moiré and dark garnet velvet is one of the most beautiful of the season for stately women lo wear at dinners, balls, and the opera. The front of the corsage [bodice] is of pale rose moiré, sloping to a broad point from a large bow on the bust, and is lightly embroidered with black and white beads. The sides and the back of the corsage are of garnet velvet, forming a short basque, cut in square tabs edged with bead embroidery.
Over short puffed sleeves are short winglike frills of velvet, surmounted by white lace. A tucker of white mousseline and lace fills out the top of the square neck. The front of the skirt is trimmed with three flounces at the foot, and is embroidered twice down each side. The train of velvet, falls in full folds, and is edged on each side with paniers of moiré turned back on the hips and tapering to the foot, the further edge finished with embroidery.
From the above description, this dress is constructed of rose-colored silk moire for the skirt and bodice front and garnet-colored silk velvet for the bodice and train. For the silhouette, it’s firmly in the mid-1890s style-wise. Below are swatches that give an idea of the basic colors:
Finally, we note that the sleeves are trimmed in white lace and that the neckline is filled with white mousseline, a silk muslin fabric. This style dress is a fairly conventional one for the time but it definitely embodied an elegant look that was suitable for any number of formal occasions. It would be interesting to know if this dress ever got beyond the concept stage and if so, we wonder what it would have looked like. Unfortunately, we’ll probably never know.