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22-06-2005
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1825-1895 Charles Frederick Worth
I can't believe there is NOT a thread about him on the entire site!

This guy is super-important IMHO and we should def. discuss about him!

Bring it!

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22-06-2005
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I always thought it was odd that an English man founded to what seems to be such a prestigious FRENCH instution. Although he is credited with founding Haute Couture I have reason to believe the system has it's roots going all the way back to Louis XIV. As explained by my European history professor, it was then that many crafts held in esteem by the noble and wealthy were instituionalized as part of a sort of reclaiming of lucury objects by the nobility. While Worth may have been the one to create the modern system as we know it now, the roots of Haute Couture go back way before him. Well, that is what I think.

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22-06-2005
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oh and someone please correct me if you know better (I often dozed off Euro History!)

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22-06-2005
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Well.. the thing's the rules of couture as we know it were established by him ... and he as well "invented" the shows and having HIS designs being worn by socialites instead of them just giving pointers to a seamstress ...

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22-06-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ultramarine
Well.. the thing's the rules of couture as we know it were established by him ... and he as well "invented" the shows and having HIS designs being worn by socialites instead of them just giving pointers to a seamstress ...
ah ok, I see. Hmmm...I still feel his role in fashion history has been a bit of a hyperbole.

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22-06-2005
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I had a fashion history class... we learned that Worth was the first one recognized for this... but that several women had been doing it way before him... they just didn't get credit because they were women.

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22-06-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luna
I had a fashion history class... we learned that Worth was the first one recognized for this... but that several women had been doing it way before him... they just didn't get credit because they were women.

now that makes sense. Always HIStory versus HERstory.

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22-06-2005
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We also learned that young girls would carry huge baskets/trunks full of ribbons, lace, etc... and go around to different ladies of the town... they would customize women's gowns with these items...

I know that's not really Haute Couture... but I know that women were doing it way before CFW.

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22-06-2005
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Come to think of it... I have the book .. .I'll scan some stuff.


Edit: Scanning will have to wait until Monday... my book is in my apartment.

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Last edited by Luna; 22-06-2005 at 07:56 PM.
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22-06-2005
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22-06-2005
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does anyone have more info, or an article? i never heard of him before, but this all sounds extremely interesting......
as i said, i learn here something everyday!

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I'll post more info from my book once I have it... but you can always google him for more info.

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22-06-2005
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^thanks!!

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22-06-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutterlein
ah ok, I see. Hmmm...I still feel his role in fashion history has been a bit of a hyperbole.
Oh, dont get me wrong .. I agree .. the fact is that it is surprising to me that NO ONE has mentioned him here

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22-06-2005
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Quote:
Charles Frederick Worth was born in Bourne, Lincolnshire, England in 1825 and from the age of 13 he worked in the dress goods firm of Swan and Edgar.

Quote:
When not yet 20, he set out for Paris. He joined Maison Gagelin, making silk coats and shawls. There he met Marie Vernet, a young woman of elegance and charm, fell in love and married.

He persuaded Gagelin to open a dress department which was a great success.
Paris, at that time, was full of female dressmakers who indulged in random frivolity. Worth realized that aesthetic perfection must be built on a foundation of technical excellence. He was the first to sign his work and the word "couturier" had to be invented for him.

His wife inspired his creativity and he designed her dresses which attracted the attention of Gagelin's customers and led to orders. Gagelin included several Worth dresses in their display in 185l at the Great Exhibition at London's Crystal Palace. He was made an associate with the firm.

However he felt that he should strike out on his own, so Worth set up his own "maison de couture" at No. 7, rue de la Paix in 1858 becoming Paris' first true couture house.
Worth sent his wife Marie to Princess de Metternich with his designs and when she wore them to Court, she drew the attention of the Empress Eugenie. In 1960 Empress Eugenie appointed the House of Worth as the court dressmaker.

So Worth came to design all the Empress' official court clothing and his label wore the royal crest. For the next decade Worth designed clothes for most of the royal ladies of Europe.

Worth re-defined the nature of the relationship between the garment's purchaser and it's maker. Before him, even the most skilled and talented dressmakers were regarded as servants in circles that determined social prestige, placed much lower n the social ladder than painters or architects.

Firstly, he was a man, a couturier, successfully imposing himself on the hitherto female and low-prestige world of the dressmaker.

Secondly, he was able to get his clients to come to his house, rather than the other way around, just as a patron might visit an artist's studio.

Thirdly he proved himself a master, not only of formal court clothing but also of the more witty, fanciful and often historically-based show costumes, modeled on famous paints or commissioned for masquerade balls. He was catering for those who liked to be conspicuous.

Under Worth's leadership, haute couture became a luxury business, as well as an interface between the silk and brocade manufacturers of Lyons and the world of the aristocracy and the Court, but also a vehicle for publicity which favoured both the client and the couturier.

More than any other person, Worth can be said to have presided over the popularity of the crinoline. From the 1840's onwards, skirts grew larger and larger. Worth designed and delivered these huge creations, but he really did not like them at all.

He enlisted the aid of the Princess de Metternich to launch a new shape. He flattened the skirt in front and swept the fullness around to the back, forming a bustle. This new shape caught on fast, and by the 1880's became almost architectural.

The crinoline slowly went out of fashion. Worth always boasted "I am the man who dethroned the crinoline."

He followed the bustle with the Princess line, which evolved into the fashions of the turn of the century, known as "Fin de Siecle" styles
.
Worth's copious use of luxurious fabrics throughout the 19th century, inspired the silk manufacturers of Lyons to weave more and more interesting textiles.

Worth was a gifted designer, who seemed to have had a clear understanding of the times in which he lived. He was able to dress both royalty and high society, as well as the demi-mode such as actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse, with equally affluent taste.

He died in 1895 and passed Maison Worth on to his sons Gaston, who ran finances and Jean Philippe, who was the designer.

In 1900 there was a display of haute couture at the Paris Exposition Universelle, and Worth, Callot Soeurs, Doeuillet, Paquin and Redfern all took part.

Maison Worth continued to provide gowns for grand and traditional affairs, right up to the 1950's. Throughout the decades, Worth salon reflected the taste of the times, including "Art Nouveau" and woven/printed flowery fabrics. They also made many gowns inspired by great paintings.

Gaston retired in 1922 and Jean-Philippe shortly thereafter. The new Directors were Gastons's sons Jacques and Jean-Charles.

In 1936 the House of Worth showed its first collection at 120 rue du Faubourg Saint Honore, under the direction of a fourth generation of Worths, Jacques and Roger.
The house was finally taken over by the house of Paquin in 1953.
Now the house of Worth survives only with two perfumes, Je Reviens and Dans la Nuit.
The perfume Je Reviens was originally given to favoured customers by Worth himself, from 1858 onwards. It was commercially launched by his grandson Jean-Philippe Worth in 1932. The name was based on a letter sent by Napolean to Josephine, saying "Je reviens en trois jours, ne te laves pas" meaning "I will return in 3 days, do not wash till then."

Worth is remembered for having set the standard for elegance in women's gowns for a period of nearly 100 years.


A 21st century Surprise

Mounir Moufarrige has taken a financial share of Worth perfume group, which has an annual revenue of $ 65 million. A new fragrance is due out in Spring 2003
.
He decided to bring out a Lingerie collection for Worth, and an example is shown on the left, of the couture corsets included in the line. The line is designed by Giovanni Bedin, 28, who worked at Karl Lagerfeld and Thierry Mugler. Bedin is shown here on the left. The Lingerie line is at present on show at the Paris Salon de Lingerie.

I wonder what Charles Frederick Worth would have thought of this.


DesignerHistory.com

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