Another Evening Dress From Maison Worth, Circa 1894

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.



And Something From Maison Worth

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!



And Trending From Maison Worth, January 1894

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.

 



The Intersection Of Art & Costume

It’s always a treat when we can view a dress that’s depicted in a painting and the same dress that the painting was based on. In this case, we have the dress that was work by Louise Pomeroy in a portrait that was painted by John Singer Sargent in 1887.  🙂 First, the portrait:

John Singer Sargent, Mrs. Charles E Inches (Louise Pomeroy), 1887

And now, the dress:

Evening Dress, c. 1887, Modified 1902; Museum of Fine Arts Boston (2013.1653.1-3)

According to the museum website, the dress was imitation of a Worth design and was reworked sometime in 1902 when the original bodice was replaced. The dress is constructed from  silk velvet and taffeta and appears to have a princess line. The dress was perfect for the portrait in that it nicely harmonizes with the sitter’s complexion and hair. Interestingly enough, Ms. Pomeroy was pregnant when the portrait was painted and extra panels had been installed in the dress to accommodate the pregnancy.  This dress and portrait was part of an exhibition that was put on by the Museum of Fine Arts in 2019 entitled “Sargent and Fashion.:

This would have been a fascinating exhibit to have seen, especially since we’re long-time John Singer Sargent fans. Well, maybe in the future we’ll have another chance. 🙂



And Trending From Maison Worth For March 1894

When it came to the media, Charles Worth was very reticent about discussing the details of his highly successful couture business. However, with his sons Gaston and Jean increasingly taking over the daily operations of Maison Worth, this attitude began to change and during the 1890s, one increasingly sees Worth designs being featured in the fashion press. One example of this can be found with the March 17, 1894 issue of Harper’s Bazar where a Worth evening dress is featured:

This dress is described in Harper’s thusly:

This superb gown is of very light ciel-blue satin bordered with black fur. It is further enriched with bead embroidery in iris dc~igns. The pointed waist is draped across the bust. and has a jabot falling between branches of embroidery done on the satin. Fur shoulder-straps complete the square décolleté. Short puffed sleeves of dotted mousseline de soie are under a ruffle of beaded satin. The graceful skirt falls in godet pleats, and is trimmed with embroidery and fur. The coiffure is without any ornament, a looped tress at the back extending above the top of the head giving a pretty profile. The fan is of black lace figures appliqued on tulle.

The silhouette is standard mid-1890s and interesting enough, the skirt gores are referred to as godets.1In modern usage, godets refer to triangular panels set into a skirt to make the skirt flare out more. The only different is that these panels are more inset into the skirt as opposed to being full panels. In terms of skirt style, they are very similar to other Worth dresses of the the 1890s and early 1900s- all employed a graceful train and were constructed of solid silk satin with some sort of long flowing decorative motif, often floral or “sheaf of wheat.” Here’s a few well-known examples that follow in the same vein:

Worth, Ball Gown, 1893 – 1894; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.68.53.10a–c)

Worth, Evening Dress, c. 1901; Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum

Worth, Ball Gown, 1899; Metropolitan Museum of Art (26.381a-b_front 0004)

Worth, Ball Gown, c. 1895 – 1900; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.1290a, b)

Worth, Ballgown, c. 1894; Kyoto Costume Institute (AC4799 84-9-2AB)

Ballgown, Worth, 1898; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.1324a, b)

While the skirts are similar, the bodices exhibit a wide range of variation different trim, fabrics, and decorative effects. Also, sleeves for the most part tend to be minimal except for examples from the mid 1890s, which comes as no surprise. 😉 As for the color, ciel blue, here’s an approximation:

The one interesting, and subtle, twist with this dress design is the use of fur as trimming on the skirt hem and shoulders. We wonder if this design was ever actually made or simply was a concept that Jean Worth fed to the fashion press. Someday, we may know the answer.