Clothing: Fashion: The Grand French Haute Couture Houses:

The originator of Haute Couture: The House of Worth


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The originator of Haute Couture: The House of Worth (founded in 1858)

Charles Frederick Worth, the father of Haute Couture and the first modern couturier, founded the first haute couture house, House of Worth, in the middle years of the 19th century. Originally a draper from Lincolnshire in England he went to Paris at the age of 19 where he decided to open his own couture house after the dresses he designed for Marie Vernet, his future wife and muse, attracted much attention. The Haute Couture House made dresses for the Empress Eugénie (wife of last French Emperor Napoleon III who reigned from 1852-1870), Princess Maria of Prussia (1855-1888), Austrian Princess de Metternich (wife of Austrian diplomat Metternich), and 'Sissi' Empress Elisabeth of Austria (wife of Emperor Franz Joseph I who reigned from 1848-1916). Worth was also appointed court couturier to Empress Eugénie and held a royal warrant. The Father of Haute Couture not only clothed empresses but also czarinas, queens and princesses, Rothschilds and Vanderbilts.

Beyond his crinoline bubbles (reinforced petticoat), Charles Frederick Worth is credited with inventing the fashion show. It was his idea to show his models on live mannequins to his customers. His extraordinary cachet was to present 4 collections each year. He and his sons also founded the 'Chambre de la Couture Parisienne' (French Haute Couture Association) in 1868, which came up with the specific criteria a fashion designer needs to fulfil in order to be allowed to call himself a 'Couturier'. In 1895 when Worth died, his two sons Gaston and Jean-Philippe Worth took over running the house. In turn Gaston's sons Jean-Charles and Jacques joined the company in around 1910. Jean-Philippe's son Jacques Worth decided to introduce perfumes in 1922. The perfume 'Je Reviens' (French for 'I will return'), which was launched in 1932, is still now one of the most famous French perfumes in history.

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