jean charles worth

Evening dress

  • Place of origin:  France (made)
  • Date:  1928-1929 (made)
  • Artist/Maker:  Jean-Charles Worth (possibly, designer)
  • Materials and Techniques:  Printed chiffon, sequins, tulle, partly embroidered, charmeuse, net, lace, crêpe

This long evening dress of aquamarine chiffon has a printed floral pattern in shades of lilac, orange and gold. The pattern is inspired by oriental designs and is outlined with iridescent sequins. The dress is straight cut with a low round neck at the front and a deep ‘V’ at the back. It is sleeveless. Attached at the hips are four shield-shaped panels of golden tulle outlined in golden sequins. A sunburst pattern is embroidered on them in iridescent sequins. Three graduated layers of gathered aquamarine tulle edge and join the panels. They are longer at the back than at the front. Worth probably made the dress, between 1928 and 1929.

Night life became the focus for the exuberance of the years after the First World War. It gave birth to the most glamorous evening fashions of the 20th century. Throughout the 1920s, and in spite of changing fashions, the legacy of the Ballets Russes remained evident in the exoticism and luxury of evening gowns and mantles. This was seen especially in the continuing use of shiny fabrics, embroideries, tassels and sashes. Evening dresses were sleeveless, long and feminine. They were embellished with exotic embroideries, sequins and metallic threads to achieve the maximum effect of brilliance. This dress shows the characteristic flounces of the later period, when volume made a reappearance in fashion.

V&A

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Jean Charles Worth, fashion design for Worth. late 1920s. Paris.

The House of Worth, established in Paris in 1858 by Charles Frederick Worth (1826-95), was the original and founding couture house. Worth London was an offshoot of the original. 

These are fashion designs submitted to Queen Elisabeth of Belgium. They would have been sent through the mail to the Queen for her to look through and choose which dresses, if any, she might wish to have made up for her by Worth. At this time, Elisabeth would have been in her 50s, but these designs show that she was still a very elegant, fashion-conscious woman who felt free to dress smartly in up-to-date styles, unlike her contemporary, Queen Mary of the United Kingdom whose husband, George V, insisted his wife wear long coats and dresses and toque hats that were last fashionable in the early 1910s.