Who Started Haute Couture?


It’s tough to suppose Kate Middleton, a Duchess of Cambridge, conceptualizing her possess dresses. But that’s what all women did as recently as a 19th century, kingship and homeless alike. Then Charles Frederick Worth arrived on a theatre and combined haute couture — literally translated, it means high dressmaking — and a conform pattern attention was born.

Dressed, a mint HowStuffWorks podcast clinging to a story of fashion, explores pioneering engineer Worth and a initial of haute couture in a initial episode. The podcast is hosted by conform historians Apr Calahan, a curator and techer during a Fashion Institute of Technology, and Cassidy Zachary, costumer, dress engineer and owner of a renouned blog “The Art of Dress.”

Haute couture (pronounced “oat koo TER”) refers to panoply combined for a specific client. Fashion houses such as Chanel and Christian Dior are central haute couture establishments since they accommodate specific requirements, that embody conceptualizing made-to-order panoply for private clients around some-more than one fitting, carrying a full-time staff of during slightest 15 and presenting collections of during slightest 50 strange designs to a open twice annually.

Worth came adult with a thought of conform designers, and conform houses, in a center of a 19th century. An Englishman innate in 1825, Worth worked for weave merchants as a immature adult, where he schooled all about fabrics and dressmaking. He eventually decamped to Paris, where he cumulative a pursuit with Maison Gagelin-Opigez et Cie, a association that sole oppulance textiles. Itching to pattern his possess garments, Worth approached government with a novel idea: Create a new dialect within a association dedicated to conceptualizing and producing dresses and concede Worth to be a designer.

It doesn’t sound intolerable today, though government balked. Dressmakers were not well-regarded behind then, and masculine designers were probably unheard of. But eventually, in 1851, they agreed. Soon, a Dressed hosts say, Worth was heralded as a gifted tastemaker, and clients sought his opinion on fashion.


In 1858, Worth left Gagelin and together with Otto Bobergh non-stop his possess company, a Parisian-based House of Worth. His designs typically featured intemperate fabrics and trimmings, as Jessa Krick from a Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute notes. Not surprisingly, he also spooky over correct fit. Soon Worth, who deliberate himself an artist, began insisting clients accept his prophesy and designs, even if they disagreed. Although some deemed him a bit of a tyrant, clients acquiesced, and a contention of conform designer, as we know it today, was born.

Worth dissolved his partnership with Bobergh in 1871 and a House of Worth was only his. By this time, he counted Empress Eugénie, mother of Napoleon III, as one of his patrons. Her change helped boost his career, and eventually he was sauce other distinguished women of a day, including famed theatre actor Sarah Bernhardt and show star Nellie Melba. The Englishman’s contributions to a margin also embody being one of a initial conform designers to stitch his name into panoply and to emanate maternity wear.

When Worth died in 1895, sons Gaston-Lucien and Jean-Philippe took over a operation. At initial business was good, though a absolute House of Worth began losing a balance during a 20th century. The House of Paquin acquired a business in 1950, and by 1952 a Worth family was rigourously out of a business when Worth’s great-grandson, Jean-Charles, retired.

But a House of Worth wasn’t utterly dead. The business was bought and sole several some-more times over a years, quickly resuming couture residence operations in a late 1960s and again in a early 2010s.

Many of Worth’s panoply are still around today, and conform buffs can see them during The Costume Institute, that is partial of a Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Listen to a full Dressed episode to hear even some-more about this haute couture colonize and accommodate warn guest Hylan Booker, lead engineer for a iconic conform residence in a late 1960s.

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