lillie langtry and worth- part 2

Some time ago I bought a copy of People and Pearls which included a very large two page photo of Lillie reclining on a settee and I thought oh yes that dress.. nope. It’s not the same dress as appears in in Victorian and Edwardian Fashion A Photographic Survey as I thought but is a later dress but also by Lafayette.

This gown is of the same type as the infamous ironwork dress by the House of Worth. Here though the velvet is in an open and stylised “palmette” (as opposed to another velvet used in house which was a densely filled palmette style.)

These gowns often have the pattern mirrored around diagonal seams from waist to side seam and often the front is likewise mirrored and cut on the diagonal.

The bodice appears to fasten up the front and the front overlaps to her right side (our left) and closes under her arm.

The skirt appears to close at the CF line with an inverted pleat below knee level.

An extreme close up reveals that the bodice shaping is carefully created by centering one of the motiffes at front waist and the fabric carefully cut away from the top of the motiffe allowing the design to be the means of shaping over the bust. 

scan from People and Pearls.

By this stage many of Lillie’s bodices seem to be of a very similar shape, very conical and quite flat. This shape seems to also repeat in House of Worth bodices of the same sort of date range.

The pearl swags are repeated under her arm to the back of the bodice.

This gown was worn by Lillie as Mrs. Trevelyan in The Degenerates. Her gowns are described as: 

Mrs. Langtry in flesh-colored satin with sapphires, Mrs, Langtry in pale-blue satin with diamonds in dazzling array, Mrs, Langtry in white v/ith pearls,…


There are hand coloured photos of Lillie and one from this set has been tinted blue.

This fabric is also to be found in an extant House of Worth gown at the Metropolitan Museum of art:,+House+of$House+of+Worth&pg=7&rpp=20&pos=133

Tassinari & Chatel supplied Worth with many velvets in different colourways and it is likely this is a different colourway as there are some differences in how the pattern is handled in each example.

lillie langtry and worth- part 1

As per my prior post about Sarah Bernhardt I could not but help but have Lillie well represented in the research materials I collected on historic dress.

As a model and as an actress she appeared in paintings by Millais and in photographs.

One of my favourite ensembles she wore just recently came back to attention in House of Worth 1858-1952.,_1882.jpg

Reblogging this one as I am making this gown 🙂 I fell in love with this back when I was at high school so yes a loooong time ago. The first photo I saw was of the dress on a very 60s mannequin and I had searched every publication I could for more and better images. Unfortunately even the amazing book didn’t have a better set and the website for a long time only had two small images.

I wound up scanning and blowing up the black and white image to get the embroidery. I also used the photos of the Kyoto version (a few years later but also by Worth) so my clouds will be done in glass pearls and the stars in glass beads.

So the pearling will be next year. Oy.


I promise to stop spamming you with new photos from the collection but geez it’s all so beautful and new! I’m pretty sure I’ve died and gone to heaven.


Dress (Ball Gown)

House of Worth  (French, 1858–1956)