The BBC One Show feature on Charles Frederick Worth London Fashion Week
Not many people know the name of the man acclaimed as the founding father of the modern day fashion industry – did you?
Charles Frederick Worth was born in the village of Bourne, Lincolnshire in 1825 only a couple of hours drive from where I live in England. At the age of 13, Worth was already fascinated with fabrics and haberdashery. At this young age he travelled to London to work as an apprentice in a department store in the centre of the London’s Piccadilly called ‘Swan & Edgar’. A store I knew well in the 70s which I believe closed in 1982 – I think I had my picture in the window at one point!
Meeting dress historian Professor Amy De La Haye of the London College of Fashion I learnt that it was while working in London that Worth really became interested with ornate designs and fabrics. By 1845 he decided he needed to go Paris to make a name for himself there. Soon he’d set up his own and was considered one of the greatest designers in Europe.
Worth did things a little differently from his contemporaries as usually at this time women would buy their own fabrics and then take them to a dressmaker. There they would request the style they wanted but Worth would design specifically for his clients. He was the first to provide complete outfits under one roof – fabrics, dresses, accessories, shoes. The House of Worth is the first known fashion house.
Instead of using mannequins he designed dresses for his wife Marie Vernet and got her to wear them for his clients – she was called ‘the first professional mannequin’, or the first fashion model.
He was among the first to create a brand by sewing a label into his creations and was the first to make seasonal collections. You could call him the first celebrity designer.
Luckily as part of The One Show feature on Charles Frederick Worth I got to wear a copy of one of his stunning gowns. I posed in the window of Fashion Store Browns in London’s South Molten Street. Working again with British fashion photographer Rankin we had a fun time as you can see from the images. I hope you like them and have learnt something new about fashion too!
Thank you to the One Show for giving me the opportunity to present and learn more about Charles Frederick Worth – I hope you have learnt something new about the history of fashion too!
The One Show Feature (content may be location restricted)