Worth numbered couture coat, c.1910
This superlative numbered coat by Jean-Philippe Worth is in a class of its own. The bold Persian-style design is a triumphant statement of art for art's. The magnificent coat would be the centerpiece of any collection in or out of museum even if it did not come from the greatest name in fashion history.
Charles Frederick Worth died in 1895, when Jean-Philippe became head designer. As a young man, he had studied under painter Camille Corot. For at least 10 years prior to his father's death, Jean-Philippe designed alongside Charles. Paul Poiret considered Jean-Philippe to be a more creative couturier than his famous father.
The coat was made from cranberry red wool broadcloth with a satin-finish-smooth pile. The border design is appliquéd with rose velvet outlined with silver braided cord. The color of the velvet trim shifts from rose to burgundy depending on the reflection of light on the pile.
With a circular cut, the spectacular coat is smooth across the shoulders, falling to the hem in deep folds. The ethnic-inspired, wide pointed sleeves terminate in elaborately braided tassels. The three hooks on the high stand-up collar are the only closure. The coat is lined with gray silk.
With larger-than-life botehs, the Persian-style border design is an exceptional realization of the aesthetic of Orientalism, then gaining recognition among the cognoscenti. Here the boteh motifs—plain cloth surrounded by appliqué—appear in a negative (or reverse) pattern.
Jean-Philippe's teacher, the great painter Camille Corot, would have been proud of his pupil's accomplishment—a sumptuous evening coat that combines the luxurious exoticism of the East with the peerless styling of Paris haute couture.
Here I must confess to a fashion heterodoxy. I sometimes prefer the work of Jean-Philippe to that of Charles Frederick, the founder of modern couture. Indeed in his time, Jean-Philippe was as well known to the public as was Charles Frederick in the late 19th century. Jean-Philippe appeared on the cover of the 8/13/1928 issue of Time Magazine.
Charles Worth built his reputation on the ultra-formal court dresses he created for the Empress Eugénie and for the aristocracy. For slightly less formal occasions, I find Jean-Philippe's lighter touch more appealing than Charles Frederick's gilded opulence.
The label reads C Worth. It is backed with a taped label stamped with design number 25806. You need only one such coat in your collection—even if it is the entire collection :-)
The condition is very good. The coat has a few tiny moth nibbles; the lining has splits. These minor problems do not detract from the peerless design.
It is 48" long at the center-back.