Satin damask ball gown, c.1895
Victorian gowns with exceptional design and in fine condition are very rare on the market. This grand gown, well preserved in a private collection, is one the most majestic I have seen in my years of collecting.
It was made from ivory/champagne satin damask from the House of Worth according to oral provenance. Given the luxe quality and substantial weight of the fabric, this rings true. Like many couture houses, Worth sometimes sold off extra fabric.
The House of Worth often had a quasi-monopoly on the best couture fabrics, manufactured on order for the House. The fabrics used in Worth gowns were exceptional, even for the late 19th century. Charles Worth himself was a great expert on dress fabrics, having been apprenticed at age 13 to a London textile firm. From age 21 to 26, Worth worked at Gagelin's, a Parisian seller of luxury fabrics.
The bodice is meticulously finished inside in the couture manner; yet the skirt is not. The most impressive design feat is hard to make out in the pictures, but it is well worth your attention, even though it is not a technique for novice dressmakers:)
The chiffon damask overlay on the bodice front has a floral pattern that matches the flowers in the satin, adding a subtle textural effect to the overall design. Note the perfect mirror imaging of the floral pattern on the back of the bodice.
The bodice is boned and lined with ivory silk taffeta. The sleeves and neckline insert are of matching lace. The bodice closes in back with lacings, which are missing. The skirt has a dramatic back train. Both pieces are embellished with ribbons and bouquets of fabric flowers.
This exquisite gown would be perfect for a wedding with a Victorian theme. It can be worn but gently, please. You can walk down the aisle and have your pictures taken in it. After the ceremony, change into a more suitable dress for dancing.
The condition is almost excellent. The only problem I could find is the missing back laces.
It measures: 38" bust, 26" waist, and 41" skirt-front length.