Ajax loader
ca. 1905
Ball gown

Background The stiff, heavy velvets and dense satins had waned in popularity by the time Worth approached the design of this grand ball gown. Here, a more flexible, lighter weight velvet provides the fluid backdrop for embellishment, allowing the fabric to be flow with the heavier silver lace and looped chenille. A popular sleeve treatment during this period combines a shoulder strap with a loose decorative flounce, revealing the upper arm—focusing on a new erogenous zone. Description Bodice: Boned, fitted, waist-length; diagonal lace panel over taffeta at bust, velvet draped at waist, curved at hem; square neck; short lace sleeves; silver lace edging at bust; three swags of fringe at upper arms; garland at left side extending over shoulder. Skirt: Floor-length, flat in front, full in back extending into train; gathers and tucks at center front waist; pleats at back; silver lace and fringe swags at hem front; two tiers of lace applied at hem all around. Garment structure The gown’s closely fitted waist-length bodice features a diagonal lace panel over taffeta at the bust, a pleated velvet drape at the waist and a shallow curve at the hem. Scalloped metallic lace is applied below the cream lace. The short lace sleeves have three swags of fringe at upper arms with a large red and light pink rose garland on the left side extending over the shoulder. At the neck edge, the lace is stiffened with hairpin shaped stays to prevent the lace scallops from drooping. The stays are covered with narrow-gauge silk tubing. The bodice back features a center-back lacing taffeta underbodice. The left back panel is covered with cream lace and extends beyond the center to hook at the right back. The lace, which is mounted on organza crosses the upper back and hooks into the right shoulder. The right back velvet panel crosses the back, draped to diminish in width, and fastens at the left underarm seam with a hook-and-eye closure. The floor-length skirt is flat in front and has stand-up darts either side of center front. Its very full back is pleated and gathered at the waist falling into a rounded, spreading train. The skirt front is trimmed with swags of the metallic lace and chenille fringe. Two rows of metallic lace are applied to the hem, including the train. Worn by mother of donor. Gift of Mrs. Harry T. Peters, 1956.

Pale blue velvet; cream lace; metallic lace with intertwined chenille yarn; fringe; cream taffeta; silk rose garland
Label: Worth / Paris; 67656
Center front length: 13 1/8”
Center back length: 9 ½”
Waist measurement: 31”
ca. 1905
Evening dress

Background This evening dress marks a stylistic transition from a 19th-century broken silhouette, created by separate bodice and straight-grained skirt panels, to a new continuous, flowing shape. Its sleek fit is achieved through the use of bias panels and accentuated through its execution in a single color. Worth here chooses a sparsely patterned, woven and velvet star brocade, which he monochromatically augments with the addition of applied velvet stars and crystal brilliants. Description Floor-length with train; fitted satin bodice, asymmetric front, mock wrap-and-tie at left waist, satin streamers with tassel ends, net insertions, applied brilliants and metallic cord, clear bead stars; wide square neck; short lace sleeves, satin ribbons at shoulders; full skirt, flat in front, small bustle in back. Garment structure The individual skirt sections of the trumpeting skirt are cut narrower at the top to reduce bulk at the waist. The scale of both woven silk and velvet stars graduates from small-scale near the waist line, to large-scale near the hem. To provide visual continuity, some of the larger velvet stars have been cut from yardage and applied to sparse sections. In other cases where the motifs fall on a seam, half of the star has been cut around, beyond the seam allowance, and applied over the adjoining seam line. The gown lacks its original skirt lining. Gift of Mrs. George S. Amory, 1944.

Off-white satin with brocaded and applied cream silk and ecru velvet stars; cream lace; applied brilliants and metallic cord; tassels; clear bead, silver spangles, and brilliants; cream net
Label: Worth / Paris; 51243
Center front length: 40 ¾”
Center back length: 85”
Waist measurement: 21 ½”
Hem circumference: 180”
Tailor-made suit

Background Worth here presents his take on the modern tailor-made suit by fusing its mannish jacket and matching contained skirt with the more feminine lines of a late-19th century gown. The slim upper skirt explodes at the hem into a cumbersome fullness. Description Jacket: Jacket and vest effect; below-hip length, fitted to waist; top-stitched pleats from waist to hem, mock jacket opening with curved pendants either side of center front; round, scalloped neck, taffeta edging extending into center back diamond-shaped appliqué; embroidered satin mock vest with round neck; full, double-box pleated sleeves, chevron-shaped top-stitching at elbow, curved wool and taffeta bands at wrist; top-stitched rose taffeta butterfly-shaped girdle; braid buttons on girdle and at wrists; applied tassels either side of center front; center front hook-and-eye closure; cream brocade lining. Skirt: Floor-length, gored, box pleats falling from hip darts, chevron topstitching at knee: vertical looped bands of taffeta applied knee to hem; taffeta underskirt, accordion-pleated dust ruffle. Garment structure The butterfly-shaped taffeta girdle is machine-stitched with multiple rows of topstitching and covers the waist seam; braid-covered buttons are sewn on the ends. The full sleeves are pleated into two box pleats at the cuffs. Each of the pleats is embellished with a machine stitched chevron design at the elbow. The flared and pleated skirt of thigh-length jacket is unlined; the bodice and sleeves are lined with cream brocade woven with a carnation pattern. The jacket’s flowing lines resolve into a flaring floor-length gored skirt. Echoing the details of the jacket, the skirt has chevron topstitching at the knee and bias strips applied from the knee to hem. The vertical bias trim has an oval above the same diamond shape used on the jacket back. The hem is topstitched by machine. The taffeta underskirt has an accordion-pleated dust ruffle. Gift of Mrs. Laurance Rockefeller, 1981.

Rose worsted wool broadcloth; rose taffeta; cream satin embroidered with stemmed flowers in a meandering pattern; rose-colored silk braid and beaded tassels; cream satin floral brocade
Label: Worth
Length: 28 ½”
Hem circumference: 93 ½”
Center front length: 40”
Center back length: 47 ¼”
Hem circumference: 242”
Tea gown

Background In keeping with the design tradition of using the tea gown form as a vehicle for poetic imagery, this gown, designed for Mrs. Seth Low Pierrepont, is a picturesque medieval-style interpretation. The soft, organically derived tone of its velvet dramatically contrasts with the opulence of its gold lace. The very intricate padded, foliate-embroidery of its panels closely parallels the embroidery that was emblematic of Liberty of London, a leader in the design of clothing and artifacts of the Aesthetic movement. Description Dress: Princess line, floor-length; lace yoke, lace band collar; lace gigot sleeves, cuff ruffles, cord loop-and-button trim from elbow to wrist closure, cord tassels, cream chiffon undersleeve; skirt flat in front, full in back; bust-length gold lace tabard, silk tassels at sides. Vest: Below-knee length; open center front, closed at sides to waist, extending into four open square-end panels; collarless; extended shoulders; passementerie at all edges. Garment structure This medieval-style tea gown comprises a full-length dress with a lace yoke, banded stand collar and sleeves, a gold lace tabard, and passementerie –embellished tabard vest. The dress has an empire waist with full-length princess seaming. Machine-made Alençon-style lace is used on the yoke and collar. Metal stays are inserted into a narrow casing on each side of center front to prevent the collar from collapsing, Constructed of lace-over-chiffon, the gigot sleeves fasten at the wrist with cord-covered buttons and loops. The chiffon undersleeve is shorter than the lace outer layer, causing the shoulders to puff out without collapsing. Decorative gold corded balls and loops embellish the sleeves from the elbow to the wrist. The sleeves are trimmed with lace frills at the wrist and armhole. Worn by donor. Gift of Mrs. Seth Low Pierrepont, 1956.

Eau de nil chiffon velvet; cream machine-made Alençon-style lace; cream chiffon; metallic gold lace; green silk and gold cord passementerie; gold metallic cord and cord tassels; green silk tassels
Labels: Worth / Paris (in dress); Worth (in tunic)
Center front length: 55 ¼”
Center back length: 64 ¼”
Waist measurement: 22 ½”
Hem circumference: 166”
Evening dress

Background Replacing the house’s signature heavy satins and silks with filmy chiffons, Maison Worth’s early 20th-century designs nod to the new, less restrictive silhouette popularized by Paul Poiret. This high-waisted, tubular evening dress incorporates the use of shimmering brilliants diffused through transparencies to emphasize its ethereal quality. Description Tubular, floor-length; empire waist; chiffon over lace at bust, V-neck, brilliant bands; elbow-length chiffon sleeves, shirred at inner elbow; satin skirt, embroidery at knee and hem, wide, draped satin waistband; chiffon overskirt, cutaway hem at front with tassels at hem center font and center back; satin train falling from waist, embroidered at hem; cluster of silk flowers at left bust. Garment structure Although the dress is not tightly corseted, it is supported by a boned corselet, which is sewn into the bodice and ends just below the natural waist. The predominantly satin skirt has embroidered bands of cornflowers at the knee and hem levels, with a double-layer of chiffon on the front overskirt. A single layer of chiffon with two wide lace ruffles spills from beneath the satin skirt back. Small lead weights are enclosed within the hem allowance to insure proper drape. The edges of the chiffon ruffles are finished with Worth’s distinctive selvage edge. The train is a separate panel falling from the raised waist, it partial conceals the petal pink bead and brilliant tassels. The shirring at the top is surmounted by two brilliant-set bands. The train also conceals the center back closure. Worn by the mother of the donor, Mrs. William Storrs Wells. Gift of Mrs. Harry T. Peters, 1956.

Pink chiffon, pink satin embroidered with silk floss cornflowers; pink machine-made lace; silk cornflowers, silk roses; brilliant-set bands; pale pink bead-and-brilliant tassels
Label: Worth / Paris
Center front length: 52½”
Center back length: 42½”
Waist measurement: 32½”
Hem circumference: 48½”
Band width under bust (on bias): 5”
Train width: 26½” (with 2¼” heading)
Evening dress

Background The early 20th-century repositioning of the natural waistline to raised position, prompted many couture houses to reference the Empire period. The courtly splendor of this gown evokes that of a Napoleonic spectacle. Here Worth transitions from the use of heavier tape laces to softer lace yardage, drawing upon two other house hallmarks to complete his decorative vocabulary: bowknots and highly refractive lead crystal brilliants. Description Floor-length with train; raised waist, boned; satin underdress with square neck; sleeveless; full skirt; applied bowknots at center front waist to hem; lace overdress with deep double ruffles at bust; square neck; elbow-length, full organza sleeves with underarm gathers; wired bowknots at neck and sleeves; taffeta sash; taffeta band at neck and shoulders crisscrossed with sash at back, center back bow with floor-length streamers. Garment structure The soft silhouette of this Alençon-style machine lace over satin evening gown belies its boned corselet and supporting taffeta substrate. The corselet laces at center back, is sleeveless with a square neckline banded in taffeta at the neck and shoulders, and has a raised waist. The lace overdress is joined to the satin underdress at the neck edge and waist. It has two wide lace ruffles at the neckline with elbow-length organza sleeves covered by a lace ruffle. The lace divides at the center below the raised waist to showcase a vertical row of brilliant bows. The lace of the skirt is cut to locate its scalloped edge at the hem. Applied scallops cut from additional yardage and applied to the split front opening edges. The two edges meet at the hem, the appliqué so skillfully executed that it is indistinguishable from the actual yardage hem. As the width of the lace was not long enough for a train, the scalloped edge of the lace hem is lapped over another lace section. The two sections are joined together by hand. Worn by mother of donor. Gift of Mrs. Harry T. Peters, 1956.

Cream satin; cream machine-made Alençon-style lace; cream organza; brilliants; wired brilliant bowknots; cornflower blue taffeta
Label: Worth / Paris; 79360
Center front length: 51½”
Center back length: 78”
Waist measurement: 31½”
Hem circumference: 144”
Sash length: 49”/ 52½”
Bow: 11”
Evening dress

Background A newfound fascination with translucent overlays and scrimmed metallics provided Maison Worth with an unexplored array of optical effects. Executing the same formulaic design—tubular silhouette and a low-profile train—the gowns produced by the house prior to WWI varied primarily in trim and color. Examples frequently acknowledge the influence of the Ballets Russes and its exotic color palette. Description Semifitted, floor-length, short train; lightly boned bodice, raised waist; black net overdress with gold lace panels either side of center front and center back, V-shaped black net inset with applied brilliants in tiered fringe pattern center front hip to hem, applied brilliants in mock fringe pattern at shoulders; cream net over gold lamé underdress; square neck, V-shaped cream lace inset; short sleeves; scattered brilliants on bodice; velvet belt. Garment structure The boned bodice of the overdress is fabricated in black net and gold lace. The net extends to form short sleeves and brilliants are applied; at the shoulders in a mock fringe pattern. Gold lace is applied over the bust. The cream net over gold lame underdress has a square neckline with a V-shaped cream lace insert which fills the deep V of the bodice. Worn by Miss Lucy T. Aldrich. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Laurance S. Rockefeller, 1956.

Black silk net; gold lace; cream net; gold lamé; brilliants; cream lace; cream velvet
Label: Worth