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.

 



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.



The Walking Suit Circa 1912

The Teens Era was a time of fashion transition as styles moved away from the tightly sculpted silhouettes of the 1890s and early 1900s. Corsetry was shifting, placing a greater emphasis on creating a smooth, slender upright profile and flattening the breast line- the “pouter pigeon” look was definitely out- and whether it was daytime or evening, the general silhouette remained the same. 🙂


Teens Era fashion wasn’t just about evening wear so today we present some daytime styles starting with the walking suit. The walking suit represented a major step in the evolution of women’s wear during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Starting in the early 1890s, the walking suit was considered an essential part of a woman’s wardrobe and by the Teens, it occupied a prominent place in fashion. Style details, construction, and fabric varied depending on price point but the objective was always the same- a outfit that a woman could wear out in public that was practical yet stylish. In response to the growing popularity of walking suits, clothing manufacturers produced walking suits in a variety of fabrics, colors and styles. Walking suits became to widespread that even the major couturiers couldn’t ignore it.  We start first with this this circa 1912 walking suit from Paquin:

Paquin, Walking Suit, 1912; National Gallery of Victoria (2015.670.a-b)

Now, we have to admit that this is bordering more on a dress than a walking suit but it illustrates one of the distinctive styles of the era- the faux kimono/robe jacket style. Constructed of ivory and salmon-striped silk chiffon and trimmed with black velvet, this dress gives a practical yet dressed up look and it was a very popular style. Here’s a similar style, circa 1913, from Maison Worth:

Worth, Walking Suit, c. 1913; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1980.16.3a, b)

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to determine just what the precise fashion fabric is but it’s mostly likely a tropical weight wool. The jacket silhouette is more of a robe held together by an elaborate waistband/belt.

Side Profile

Rear View

Here’s a more detailed view of the jacket back:

Close-up of the back.

The above walking suit is Jackets cold also follow a more conventional style such as with this circa 1910 Paquin walking suit:

Jeanne Paquin, Walking Suit, Spring/Summer 1910; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.474a–d)

The suit follows a fairly conventional silhouette and as with many of Paquin’s designs, it was very practical, especially with the skirt. Although the “hobble style” was coming into being during this period, this dress is open and allows for complete mobility. The fabric appears to be a gray tropical weight wool with excellent drapability- it simply “flows.”

Three- Quarter Rear View

Close-Up Of Sleeve/Back

The cuffs have been artfully cut so as to give the illusion of lace cuffs underneath. Here’s what was actually worn underneath the jacket and note that the half-sleeves. 😉

Close-up of the front without the jacket.

We conclude with a more conventional walking suit style with this circa 1910 suit:

Walking Suit, c. 1912; McCord Museum (M976.35.2.1-2)

This suit embodies functionality with a minimum of trim except for decorative buttons and the double-layer collar. The skirt is also practical, allowing for full mobility. Unfortunately, there’s no indication what the fashion fabric is- it cold be linen, cotton, or even a tropical weight wool.

Walking suits came in a variety of styles with varying amounts of trim and decorative elements but no matter what, the emphasis was on practicality. In future posts, we’ll be exploring Teens Era walking suits further so stay tuned. 🙂



Fashion Transition- 1890, Part 2

Jules Benoit Ivy, Femme dans un Atelier, 1890

In our last post, we discussed some of the styles that were trending in early 1890 starting with the Directoire and Redingote styles. Today we move on to take a look at the jacket-bodice and pseudo-robe styles. This example from the early 1890s gives a good close-up view of the jacket-bodice style:

Jacket/Vest Bodice, c. early 1890s; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.55.41.3)

The jacket-bodice combines a fairly standard  form-fitting jacket with a faux vest that’s reminiscent of an 18th Century waistcoat. The faux waistcoat extends well jacket to reveal elaborate embroidery work that flows up the open front, ending at the neckt in a Mandarin collar. The close-up below provides a nice view of the embroidery:

The “faux vest” could often took the form of shirring made to look like a waist as with this circa 1890-1893 Worth day dress:

Worth, Day Dress, c. 1890 – 1893; Kerry Taylor Auctions

With this dress, the shirring runs down the opening in the outer bodice and then picks up again with the skirt front. The white shirring provides an interesting contrast to the black floral patterned dark green silk satin, especially in that the fashion seemingly sucks up light and the white shirring throws out light; the eye can’t help but be drawn to the dress front and then up to the wearer’s face. Below is a close-up of the bodice front:

And for another take on the jacket-bodice style, here’s  a circa 1890 afternoon dress made by Worth:

Worth, Afternoon Dress, c. 1890; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2015.688.a-b)

This dress combines a bolero style jacket constructed from a black and orange-brown patterned velvet with a lighter copper-colored silk satin vest/underbodice combined with an outerskirt of the same color. The underskirt utilizes the same black and orange-brown patterned velvet trimmed with embroidered flower appliques along the sides and bottom. With this dress, the contrast is one of harmonizing yet different fabrics.

One interesting variation on the jacket-bodice style is this circa 1890 reception dress that has the jacket acting as more of a redingote style:

Reception Dress, c. 1890; Goldstein Museum of Design (2013.004.012)

The jacket/coat is a black and olive green striped silk taffeta with gold/red floral motifs. The underskirt is a solid black silk taffeta trimmed with black jet beading. Finally, the collar is trimmed with black ostrich feathers. Below is a side profile:

Sometimes it’s difficult to neatly classify dress styles but this one to us emphasizes the outer jacket/coat as more of an unified bodice/overskirt rather than simply a coat over a skirt.

Finally, we take a look at the pseudo-robe style. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of extant examples but here’s an early 1890s dinner dress made by Worth:

Worth, Dinner Dress, c. 1890-1895; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.636a, b)

Looking at large sash and knot combined with the plunging neckline this dress is reminiscent of a kimono and the floral pattern silk jacquard further reinforces the Japonisme style. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of extant examples of this style.

Rear View

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this all-too-brief over of fashion in early 1890 and we’re always on the search for fresh content so stay tuned! 🙂

Illustrated London News, c. 1890