House of Worth

Photograph of the salon of the House of Worth, 1907. Photograph of the salon of the House of Worth, 1907.

The House of Worth was a French fashion house that specialized in haute couture. It was founded in 1858 by Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895). The fashion house was based at Rue de la Paix 17, Paris (France). Charles Worth was an English designer who used to work for various dry-good shops in London before moving to the dry-good and dress making firm of Gagelin et Opigez (Paris) in 1846.

One of Worth's designs for Gagelin won a recommendation at the Great Exhibition held in London in 1851. Worth opened his own company in 1858 with the financial backing of Otto Bobergh, a wealthy Swede. The new company, Worth and Bobergh, quickly became very popular with the wealthy elite of Europe. He developed close connections with the French royal court and Empress Eugénie (1826-1920) in particular. In 1860 he was appointed couturier to the French court. He was also known for providing complete outfits for national and international clients. These included Princess Pauline von Metternich (wife of the Austrian ambassador to France, Richard von Metternich).

Many of the garments and accessories associated with the Maison Worth were elaborately embroidered and beaded using various tambour embroidery techniques. Between 1870 and 1871 the company was closed due to the Franco-Prussian war, but it was reopened in 1871. Bobergh, however, decided to retire and was no longer involved with the successful fashion house. Worth died in 1895 and his business was passed on to his sons, Gaston-Lucien Worth and Jean-Phillippe Worth.

Prior to the outbreak of the First World War (1914-1918), clients of the Maison Worth included some of the most influential and wealthy women in Europe (notably royal customers from Austria, Britain, Italy, Portugal, Russia and Spain), the Middle East and North America. They made, for example, the coronation gown of Queen Alexandra (Britain; 1902) and the outfit worn by Lady Curzon (wife of the Viceroy of India) at the same event. They also made the famous Peacock dress for Lady Curzon for wearing at an Indian durbar to celebrate the coronation of Edward VII, which was held in Delhi in 1903. The company also supplied garments and accessories for the Ottoman Court (Istanbul, Turkey), the ruling families in Cairo ( Egypt), as well as the Persian court (Tehran, Iran). In 1950 the Maison Worth was taken over by the Maison Paquin and in 1956 Worth closed its couture business.

Also known as Maison Worth.


  • MARLY, Diana de (1980). Worth, Father of Haute Couture, London: Elm Tree Books.
  • COLEMAN, Elizabeth Ann (2010). 'Worth, Charles Frederick,' in: Valerie Steele (ed.), The Berg Companion to Fashion, Oxford: Berg, pp. 737-740.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 28 June 2016).


Last modified on Saturday, 29 April 2017 11:28