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Evening dress

  • Place of origin:

    Paris, France (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1881 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Worth (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk satin, trimmed with pearl embroidery and machine-made lace, lined with silk, the bodice supported with whalebone struts, machine and hand sewn

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs G. T. Morton

  • Museum number:

    T.63&A-1976

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This silk satin evening dress, designed by Charles Frederick Worth, represents the height of couture fashion in the early 1880s. It was worn by Mrs Granville Alexander, a daughter of the U.S. sewing machine pioneer, Isaac Singer. The donor was her great-niece.

The bodice is seamed and gored for a moulded fit. It extends into drapes at the hips and merges with the train, which falls in inverted pleats from the seams of the bodice. The inside of the skirt is hooped at the back, with tapes for adjustment, to create the bustle effect. The elegant cut, combined with the rich materials and embroidery, makes for a flattering silhouette.

Worth was a celebrated Parisian couture dressmaker. He was born in 1825 in Bourne, Lincolnshire, and started working at the age of 12 in a draper's shop in London. Eight years later he moved to Paris, where he opened his own premises in 1858. He was soon patronised by the Empress Eugenie and her influence was instrumental to his success. Made-to-measure clothes from Worth, as from the other great Parisian fashion houses, were an important symbol of social and financial advancement.

Physical description

Evening dress and skirt panel of embroidered silk satin.
[Evening dress] Evening dress of pale pink satin, in the Princess line. The bodice is seamed and gored for a moulded fit. It extends into drapes at the hips and merges with the train, which falls in inverted pleats from the seams of the bodice.
It has a V neck, a centre front fastening and the draped hips are gathered into a bustle with trim at the rear. The sleeves are elbow length, slightly puffed, slit, with the slits filled with cream machine-made lace. The same lace is also udes to trim the neck, basques and the scalloped pleat bordered hem. It is faced at the hem and provided with tapes inside the back.
[Skirt panel] The skirt panel is of ivory satin and with an embroidered pattern of wistaria in chenille, silks and beads in natural colours. At the centre there is a row of bead and silk tassels.

Place of Origin

Paris, France (made)

Date

ca. 1881 (made)

Artist/maker

Worth (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silk satin, trimmed with pearl embroidery and machine-made lace, lined with silk, the bodice supported with whalebone struts, machine and hand sewn

Marks and inscriptions

[Evening dress] 'Worth, Paris' is machine-woven on the waist-tape.

Descriptive line

Evening dress and skirt panel of embroidered silk satin, made by Worth, Paris, ca. 1881.

Materials

Silk; Satin; Lace; Whalebone; Baleen

Techniques

Moulded; Woven; Machine

Categories

Fashion; Women's clothes; Evening wear; Embroidery; Lace; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection code

T&F

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