Charles Frederick Worth

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Charles Frederick Worth
Charles Frederick Worth (Mars 1895).jpg
Born (1825-10-13)13 October 1825
Bourne, Lincolnshire, England
Died 10 March 1895(1895-03-10) (aged 69)
Paris, France
Nationality English
Occupation Fashion designer
Known for Creating haute couture
Spouse(s) Marie Vernet Worth
Children Gaston, Jean-Philippe
Parents William Worth and Mary Anne Worth, neé Quincey [1]
Labels House of Worth

Charles Frederick Worth (13 October 1825 – 10 March 1895) was an English fashion designer whose works were produced in Paris, and who is widely considered the father of haute couture.[2][3]

Early Life[edit]

Charles Frederick Worth was born on October 3, 1825 in Bourne Lincolnshire to William and Mary Worth.


Worth made his mark in the French fashion industry. He worked at several prosperous London drapery shops before moving to Paris in 1846. He was hired by Gagelin and Opigez, well-known Parisian drapers. While working in their shop, he married one of the firm's models, Marie Vernet. Marie would model shawls and bonnets for prospective customers. Worth made a few simple dresses for his wife and customers started to ask for copies of the dresses as well.

Worth, by now a junior partner in the firm, urged his partners to expand into dressmaking, but they hesitated to risk their reputation in a business as low-class as dressmaking. Worth found a wealthy Swede, Otto Bobergh, who was willing to bankroll the venture and opened the dressmaking establishment of Worth and Bobergh in 1858. Worth was soon patronised by the French Empress Eugénie, and after that by many titled, rich, and otherwise notable women. Catherine Walters[4] and Cora Pearl, the famous demimondaines, and Pauline von Metternich, an Austrian princess and musical patron, were Worth devotees, the infamous beauty Virginia Oldoini, Countess di Castiglione was often dressed by him. He also dressed actresses such as Sarah Bernhardt and singers such as Nellie Melba. Many of his customers travelled to Paris from other countries, coming from as far away as New York and Boston. Much of his work is associated with the movement to redefine the female fashionable shape, removing excessive ruffles and frills and using rich fabrics in simple but flattering outlines.He is credited as the first designer to put labels onto the clothing he manufactured.[5] Worth gave his customers luxurious materials and meticulous fit. Rather than let the customer dictate the design, as had previously been dressmaking practice, four times a year he displayed model dresses at fashion shows. His patronesses would pick a model, which would then be sewn in fabrics of their choice and tailored to their figure. Worth was sufficiently fashionable that he had to turn away customers. This only added to his éclat. He completely revolutionised the business of dressmaking. He was the first of the couturiers, dressmakers considered artists rather than mere artisans.

Worth and Bobergh shut down during the Franco-Prussian War and re-opened in 1871, without Bobergh, as the House of Worth. Worth took his sons, Gaston (founder of Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture) and Jean-Philippe, into his business and the couture house continued to flourish after his death in 1895.


In Bourne, Lincolnshire, where Charles Frederick Worth was born, a gallery dedicated to his life and work is located at the Heritage Centre administered by the Bourne Civic Society.[6]



  1. ^ Diana de Marly, Worth Father of Haute Couture. Elm Tree Books, London. (1980) ISBN 0-241-10304-5, page 2.
  2. ^ Jacqueline C. Kent (2003). Business Builders in Fashion – Charles Frederick Worth – The Father of Haute Couture The Oliver Press, Inc., 2003
  3. ^ Claire B. Shaeffer (2001). Couture sewing techniques "Originating in mid- 19th-century Paris with the designs of an Englishman named Charles Frederick Worth, haute couture represents an archaic tradition of creating garments by hand with painstaking care and precision". Taunton Press, 2001
  4. ^ See report of a court case, 1873
  5. ^ "charles-frederick-worth". ask answer. 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2008. 
  6. ^ "Charles Worth at the Bourne Civic Society". Bourne Civic Society. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 



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