Evening gown, ca. 1900-05 , Charles Frederick Worth, Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti, In Copyright

Charles Frederick Worth is considered to be the father of Haute Couture. Worth was born in England, but he soon moved to France. He got his fame in Paris, where he established his fashion house in 1858, contributing to the establishment of Paris as cradle and capital of couture. The dresses he produced used to create desire, establishing the shape of the fashionable silhouette.

(left) Three-piece ball gown in ‘velour de sabre’ (front), ca. 1902, Charles Frederick Worth, Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti, In Copyright | (right) Three-piece ball gown in ‘velour de sabre’ (back), ca. 1902, Charles Frederick Worth, Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti, In Copyright

Worth included technical developments and experimentations in his designs: for instance, the use of the tournure, a device that was to be worn underneath the skirt, emphasising the backside. He turned his atelier into a space where commerce and art merged, developing techniques of presentations and sale that increased the desirability of his artefacts.

Two-piece dress, ‘Princesse’ line, ca. 1880, Charles Frederick Worth, Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti, In Copyright
Two-piece dress, ‘Princesse’ line, ca. 1880, Charles Frederick Worth, Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti, In Copyright

The loyal clientele contributed to establishing the fame of Worth as impeccable creator: amongst his clients, many European royals are remembered, the most prominent being Princess Eugenie and Princess Elizabeth of Austria; he also used to dress actresses, such as Lilli Langtry and Sarah Bernhardt, both on and off the stage.

Two-piece gown, ca. 1878, Charles Frederick Worth, Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti, In Copyright
Two-piece gown, ca. 1878, Charles Frederick Worth, Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti, In Copyright