Departing from the round and dome-shaped skirts of the 1860s, Worth swept their residual volume backward and poured it over a tournure or bustle. That unwieldy silhouette, originally introduced at the end of the 17th century, would define fashion throughout most of 1870s and ’80s. Many Worth clients, unwilling to abandon costly but outmoded garments, brought them back to Worth, who combined their contrasting materials into fresh, new incarnations. This afternoon dress is one such example and features a “fan train,” which was introduced by Worth and cited in an 1873 edition of "Harper’s Bazar. "
Bodice: Fitted, waist-length, two deep basque points at center front and center back; V-neck, organdy ruffle; pink silk mock vest with narrow shawl collar; tan overlayer, pleated, crossed tan silk bands at bust, silk ribbon rosette at center front; elbow-length sleeves, pink silk turned-back curved cuffs; detachable organdy undersleeves with eyelet embroidery; fringe at hem.
Skirt: Floor-length, flat front with train; Center front panel with alternating rows of pink silk, tan silk, and fringe, ribbon rosettes on either side of center front hip to hem; gathered tan silk side panels extending into bustle and train, rust ruffle at hem, pink silk lining; pink silk underskirt, pleated ruffle.
The bodice is boned to the waist is extended by two basque deep points at center front and a single point at center back. Smoothly fitted, its waistline unseamed, it has long vertical darts on the front and seams from the armholes to the hem on the back. The flat-fronted floor-length skirt dramatically contrasts with its back-thrusting and hitched trained bustle, arranged to reveal its pink silk underskirt. In an unusual departure, Worth’s lean front and full back are “…cut in a new and admirable fashion which combines gracefulness of effect with great economy of material,” according to "Harper’s Bazar," December 19, 1874.
Like most designs of this period, machine stitching is used on the primary seams, with secondary elements such as the stay pockets, the seams joining the cuffs to the sleeve, bindings, and finishing details stitched by hand.
Worn by mother of the donor.
Gift of Mrs. Henry Martyn Alexander, 1940.