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Design for a fancy-dress costume

Design for a fancy-dress costume

  • Place of origin:

    paris, France (made)

  • Date:

    1860s (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Jules Helleu (designer)
    Charles Frederick Worth, born 1825 - died 1895 (possibly, designed for)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    watercolour and pencil drawing

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the House of Worth

  • Museum number:

    E.22058-1957

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case 96, shelf D, box 5

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This design for a fancy dress costume was created by Jules Helleu, possibly for Charles Frederick Worth. The subject is unclear, but may represent a theme such as Summer or Flora. The draped green net and silver tissue dress is abundantly trimmed with quantities of artifical flowers and large brightly patterned butterflies, and is paired with unusual green sandals.

During the 1860s, Empress Eugenie of France threw a number of extravagant masquerade balls which required the guests to wear elaborate and inventive costumes that were made up by Worth and other Paris dressmakers. Worth, a relative newcomer, became the Empress's favoured couturier at the end of the 1850s. This made him extremely fashionable, and the rest of the ladies of Eugenie's court also bought gowns from him - and so too did their husbands' mistresses, and anyone wealthy enough to afford Worth's very high prices. As a result, Worth was under great pressure to produce vast numbers of unique, one of a kind costumes and gowns, often at very short notice. This is one of a large number of similar designs and sketches that were given to the V&A as part of the archive and reference collection of the House of Worth, making it extremely likely that it was originally designed for a guest to wear to one of the Empress's magnificent balls.

Physical description

Watercolour drawing, a design for a theatrical or masquerade fancy-dress ball costume.

Place of Origin

paris, France (made)

Date

1860s (made)

Artist/maker

Jules Helleu (designer)
Charles Frederick Worth, born 1825 - died 1895 (possibly, designed for)

Materials and Techniques

watercolour and pencil drawing

Descriptive line

Woman's masquerade ball dress. Unknown subject (possibly Flora). Watercolour drawing by Jules Helleu, probably for Charles Frederick Worth. Paris, 1860s.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings Accessions 1957-1958 London: HMSO, 1964
The full text of the entry is as follows:

"WORTH and PAQUIN, Houses of

Designs for costumes and accessories, some with additional sketches and examples of the fabrics used; and designs for fancy dress, theatrical costume etc. c.1865-1956. Also a reference collection of fashion plates of men's and women's costume, and miscellaneous engravings, chiefly French, late 18th century and 19th century. Most mounted in volumes.
Many of the costume designs are inscribed in ink or pencil with the title identifying the dress, with notes etc. and in some cases with the name of the client.
Pencil, pen and ink and water-colour; engravings, etchings, lithographs, and process engravings.
Various sizes
E.18-21039, 21193-21321, 21581-21583, 21604-21608, 21610-21673, 21694, 21695, 21706-21713, 21728-22396, 22397(39, 40, 50-58, 60-70, 80). 22398-23026-1957

Given by the House of Worth

Note: A large collection of photographs of the dresses designed by the Houses of Worth and Paquin is in the Victoria and Albert Museum library."

Materials

Pencil; Watercolour

Techniques

Watercolour drawing

Categories

Designs; Fashion; Women's clothes; Fancy-dress

Collection code

PDP

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Qr_O577332
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