Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Charles Frederick Worth

Charles Frederick Worth is considered the Father of Haute Couture and the first fashion designer in the French fashion industry.  He was born in Bourne, Lincolnshire, England in 1825.  While in England, he worked at several prosperous drapery shops in London before moving to Paris in 1846.  He worked for Gagelin and Opigez, who were well known Parisian drapers.  He also married one of the shop's models, Marie Vernet, who was also his muse.

Worth would make simple dresses for his wife to model, and customers would start asking for copies of the dresses as well.  In 1858, he went into business with Otto Bobergh and established Worth and Bobergh. Worth's clients included:
  •  Empress Eugenie

  • Princess Pauline Von Metternich

  • Catherine Waters

  • Cora Pearl

  • Virginia Oldoini, Countess di Castiglione

  • Sarah Bernhardt

  • Nellie Melba

Most of his clients travelled to Paris from other countries for his designs.  Much of his work is associated with the movement to redefine the female fashionable shape, removing excessive ruffles and frills and using rich fabrics in simple but flattering outlines.  Worth is credited as the first designer to put labels onto the clothing he manufactured.  Rather than let the customer dictate the design, he displayed model dresses at fashion shows four times a year. His patronesses would pick a model, which would then be sewn in fabrics of their choice and tailored to their figure. Worth was sufficiently fashionable that he had to turn away customers. This only added to his éclat. He completely revolutionized the business of dressmaking.  He was also the first of the couturiers, dressmakers considered artists rather than mere artisans.

Worth and Bobergh had shut down due to the Franco-Prussian War, but re-opened in 1871, without Bobergh, as the House of Worth.  Worth's sons, Gaston (founder of Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture) and Jean-Philippe, also followed in their father's footsteps.  When Worth died in 1895, his company continue to flourish under the leadership of his sons.

Designs from House of Worth

Until Next Time!!

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