Charles Frederick Worth was born in Bourne, Lincolnshire, England on October 13th, 1825. As a young man, he worked with London textile merchants and later moved to Paris, which in 1845 was the center of the fashion world.
He arrived in Paris speaking no French and with only £5 in his pocket. He started working with Gagelin, where he became the lead salesman. Because of his achievements, Gagelin granted Worth permission to open a dress department, his first official entrance into the dressmaking world.
This was where Worth established his reputation as a great designer. He built Gagelin’s company’s international reputation by winning fashion contests at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 and the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1855.
In 1858, Worth continued with his work and opened his own business. His fashion salon soon attracted European royalty; he adapted 19th-century dress to make it more suited to everyday life, with some changes requested by his client, Empress Eugénie. He was the first to design and present seasonal collections.
This was the year when Charles met his future wife Marie Vernet. She had a key role from the start, both in the selling of the clothes and in introducing many new customers. Marie inspired his creativity, and his designs stood out from the bespoke clothing that was the norm at the time. She was the first living mannequin.
Worth is considered by many fashion historians to be the father of haute couture – High Fashion. He was known as the Royal Couturier and his label wore the Royal Crest as a symbol of the Empress Eugénie’s patronage.
Worth is also credited with revolutionizing the business of fashion; He was the first Stylist and artist who used live models, and the first designer in the world who hold fashion shows. He was the founder of the House of Worth, one of the foremost fashion houses of the 19th and early 20th centuries.