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Art Education

House of Worth

House of Worth

Charles Frederic Worth was born in England in 1825 and became the premier fashion designer of Paris during the second half of the 1800’s. Worth is credited as being the first designer to establish a fashion house and has become known as the father of haute couture, or high fashion. A haute couture is known for creating intricately designed garments sewn meticulously by hand with the most expensive materials.  

As a young man Worth began working with various textile merchants in London where he learned about fabrics and the business of fabric supply. His passion for fashion design led him to study historical portraits, analyzing the dress and garments of the wealthy patrons in the paintings.

When he was 20 Worth moved to Paris which at the time was the center of the fashion world. He found work at a leading textile firm selling fabric, shawls, and other garments. He become the company’s most successful salesman and was given the opportunity to open a dress making shop within the building.

In 1852, with the creation of the Second Empire in France, Napoleon III becomes emperor of France as France, once again, becomes an imperial power. Empress Eugenie would become Worth’s most valued client designing dresses for the Empress. This upscale exposure and the increased demand for luxury goods throughout Europe and America, would raise Worth’s to prominence as the preeminent fashion designer of the time.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are the distinguishing characteristics of woman’s dress design in the 19th century?
  2. What are the different parts or features of 19th century woman’s dress?
  3. What shapes are apparent in the Worth’s designs?
  4. How do suppose the garment is structured, how does it fit the body?
  5. What patterns are evident within the designs, how do they make the garments feel?
  6. Why do you think Frederic Worth is called the father of haute couture?

Tutorial | Sketching a Garment

View my Flipboard Magazine.

Biography Questions to Answer

Use the link provided here to answer the following questions about Frederic Charles Worth. On a new slide in your Google Portfolio create either a raw list of facts from the questions raised or compose a paragraph that will include the information about the designer. Title the slide, add a photo of Frederic Worth along with few of his original dress designs in the slide.

  1. Where was Frederic C. Worth born?
  2. When was he born?
  3. What job did he have as a young man?
  4. What textile firm did he find work with when he arrived in Paris?
  5. How well did he do as a salesman with Gagelin firm, how was he rewarded?
  6. According to the article, what was in demand in France with the rise of Neopolian III?
  7. Whose  patronage ensured Worth’s success as a popular dressmaker?
  8. According to the article, what are the notable features of Worth’s designs?
  9. What did Worth within his career do to earn the title “father of haute couture“?
  10. How did clients buy garments at the House of Worth?

19th Century Silhouette & Support

Nineteenth century woman’s dress relied on supports such as crinolines, panniers, and corsets which were constructed with wire, or wale bone and wrapped with fabric. Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s site page Nineteenth Century Silhouette and Support as well as Eighteenth Century Silhouette and Support for a a look closer look the various garments of the era. Compare the fashions from the two centuries, how did fashion change, how did it stay the same?

Figure, the human form.
Form, a 3 dimensional object that has volume and takes up space.
Highlight, the lightest part of an object or form where light is hitting.
Haute Couture, House of high fashion.
Pattern, the repetition of lines or forms.
Shadow, the darker areas of a form or the shadow of the form.
Sketchbook, a book to practice drawing, formulate ideas and keep visual resources.
Texture, an element of design that refers to the surface, ex rough, smooth, fuzzy.
Value, an element of design that relates to the lightness and darkness of a color or tone.



Charles Frederick Worth at Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Crinoline, 1860-1870. MoMu – Fashion Museum Province of Antwerp, Photo by Hugo Maertens, Bruges” by Crinoline, 1860-1870. Jacoba de Jonge Collection in MoMu – Fashion Museum Province of Antwerp, / Photo by Hugo Maertens, Bruges. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons –

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