If one approaches those Worth gowns that have survived the years with a tape measure and the eye of a pattern maker, one may glimpse Worth’s flair for engineering. His gowns were made of many standard interchangeable parts. One sleeve may fit several different bodices or each bodice will fit a great variety of sleeves. In turn, each bodice may be joined to a host of skirt shapes.
This sounds reasonable, but the twodresses the book that are compared really don’t show this- the draperies are pointed out.
The most interesting aspect of Mrs. Drew’s gown, however, is its illustration of the many ways Worth repeated a pattern. The diagonal swags of the skirt are the same as the drapery trimmed with pleating on the voile dress pictured on page 29 of this catalogue. They are also identical, even to the fringed button trim, with another dress of green taffeta dated 1876 in The Brooklyn Museum collection. It would seem that plus c’est la meme chose, plus ca change.
Not seeing any similarity in regards to the drapery, but perhaps that is due to owning a surfeit of images from the 1870s and 1880s- variations on a theme really was the fashion.
However I have definitely fallen head over heels in love with a particular gown that was made over and over and over again. It’s middle of the 1890s, ball gown. There is one with woven butterflies all over an aqua silk satin, there is one in pink satin with wheat sheafs in beads and sequins up the skirt, there is one in turquoise velvet. They have a slightly asymmetric neckline and are possibly underappreciated because they seem so plain.
In London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is a series of sketches of an 1860 skirt showing the imaginative variations possible with a single basic shape. Made up in a diversity of fabrics and the multitude of trimmings so favored by the mid-century mind, one can envision an almost endless series of dressmaking permutations.
I may not totally see the link above to the idea of mix and match, nor here, but I do see how a skirt would be the primary focus. The 1860s skirts were a huge canvas, and bodices of each decade were built on specific lines. So deciding on a skirt then making the bodice(s) match is very sensible. The opposite of what I tend to do as I tend to work in vertical lines from shoulder to floor.
But the en disposition gowns of the 1890s are most definitely not created this way, they are deigned to match the fabric. The construction of each cannot be swapped.
Again, I think the inconsistency in our views of Worth have a lot to do with how long the house was in operation and how the different styles were not simple changes but involved new practices from design through construction through fitting.
Many more fashion plates in context! Some of these have made their way into cosutme history books.
Of interest to me is how much pink there was in the 1870s! So much. It’s quite… fashion doll pink in plates but I have some paintings where it’s much softer 🙂
I have linked to the about pages in each case, click the book cover then the thumbnails icon to be able to see at a glance how much information there really is! Some of these came with pattern suppliments, it’s a pity these have simply been scanned to show that they exist but from experience of scanning my own magazines they are on webarchive) it is a big ask as it is!