Charles Frederick Worth – The father of the Haute Couture industry

Marija Georgievska
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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.

Charles Frederik Worth.

Charles Frederik Worth.

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.

Design illustration by Worth. Photo Credit

Design illustration by Worth. Photo Credit

 

Dress illustration by Worth. Photo Credit

Dress illustration by Worth. Photo Credit

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.

Alice Vanderbilt dresses as Electic Light by Worth for the Vanderbilt fancy dress ball of 1883.

Alice Vanderbilt dresses as Electic Light by Worth for the Vanderbilt fancy dress ball of 1883.

 

Empress Eugenie wearing a gown designed by Worth.

Empress Eugenie wearing a gown designed by Worth.

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.

Illustration of a History of Feminine Fashion likely commissioned by Worth.

Illustration of a History of Feminine Fashion likely commissioned by Worth.

 

His wife was the first living mannequin.

His wife was the first living mannequin.

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.

Winterhalter dress.

Winterhalter dress.

 

Court dress designed for the Imperial Russian Court about 1888.

Court dress designed for the Imperial Russian Court about 1888.

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.

Mary Curzon, Baroness Curzon of Kedleston in Worth's dress.

Mary Curzon, Baroness Curzon of Kedleston in Worth’s dress.

 

The House of Worth at 7 rue de la Paix became a meeting point for high society.

The House of Worth at 7 rue de la Paix became a meeting point for high society.

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.