A fondness for 18th-century silhouette and detail informed many designs produced by Maison Worth during the last years of the 19th century. Using its formidable referencing archive—amassed for both theatrical and fancy dress inspiration—to full advantage, the house incorporated period elements into its non-theatrical creations. This dinner dress, made for Grace Wilson, who shortly thereafter became Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt III, provided the wearer with a timeless, picturesque gown.
Bodice: Cream satin; boned, fitted, waist-length, gathered and pleated tail; wide décolletage, yellow chiffon ruffle all around; long, fitted yellow satin sleeves with turned-back cuffs, six-button placket; chiffon ruffle at wrist.
Skirt: Yellow satin; floor-length, slight train, flat in front, full in back; chiffon drapery center back; looped tabs at hem.
The tightly boned bodice is cropped at the waist with a shallow center-front dip, referencing an 18th-century stomacher panel. It is closely fitted with a décolleté neckline, which is trimmed with a chiffon drape on the front and a pleated ruffle all around. The closely woven selvage on the chiffon is 3/8” wide and is used as a decorative edge. The lower bodice edge is finished with double corded piping. It laces center back and has a self-fabric ruffle beneath the eyelets.
Almost flat in front with small box pleats on either side of center, the floor-length skirt has a slight train. The full back is folded down at the waist edge and hand sewn to the waistband with cartridge pleats. A chiffon drapery cascades down center back. The ruffle edges are finished with selvage. The skirt hem is trimmed with satin looped tabs.
Worn by Grace Wilson, who married Cornelius Vanderbilt III, in 1896.
Gift of Mrs. Robert L. Stevens and Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt, 1953.