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Object Name Dress
Date ca. 1885-1888
Description Woman's 2-piece dress made by the House of Worth, Paris. Made of pale blue-green silk brocade with butterfly pattern; parts of bodice and skirt are lined with similar fabric in golden yellow color. Bodice has round neckline and attached lace yoke with standing lace collar. Ivory satin bodice lining has hook and eye front closure; bodice front panel is attached to lining at one side and hooks to lining at other side; bodice jacket hooks to front panel with one hook at neckline (over wearer's left breast). Short sleeves have puffed shoulders and lace trim at cuff; sleeves are slit. Bodice has weighted tabs at back. Bodice is decorated with three aqua blue bows, one on each sleeve and one on the front panel; each bow has two decorative conical metal drops. A purple silk satin sash is attached to the front of the bodice panel, and the sash has a purple satin rosette attached slightly off-center (to wearer's left). Interior waistband has embroidered inscription "[J?] Worth" with "PARIS" woven into the waistband at either side; number "64116" printed under waistband; also number "64116" hand printed in ink on fabric label sewn into waistband of skirt. The skirt has two large pleats on each side of center front decoration of five aqua blue bows with conical metal drops. The center pleats are faced with yellow fabric, and side pleats are faced with self fabric. The skirt is gathered at back and has a short train. The skirt has a back hook and eye closure. Matching aqua shoes and blue stockings (catalog numbers C01.3306 and C01.3307) are believed to have been originally worn with this dress.
(Keywords: Fashion, Designer, Late Victorian, Historicism, Early Twentieth Century, New York)

Acquisition Gift of Mrs. Francis Henderson
Ownership and History The style of this dress and some details of its construction indicate that it was originally made in the 1880s and then altered in 1903. The serial number on the waistband dates from 1903, but the fabric, sleeve shape, weighted bodice pleats, and matching shoes are suggestive of 1880s fashions.

It was given to the Staten Island Historical Society in 1964 by Mrs. Francis Henderson, daughter-in-law of Agnes (Roudebush) Henderson (1868-1926). Agnes may have had the dress made around the same time as her wedding gown, which was also created by Charles Frederick Worth. She was married in London on September 8, 1888 to Harold Gould Henderson (1857-1926), a member of a large and wealthy Staten Island family.

The current appearance of the dress reflects the kind of costume that was worn by socially prominent women for fancy dress balls. Its bodice seems to be a combination of elements from two original bodices (one for day and one for evening wear). The gored skirt and sharply-pointed lace are examples of historicizing features that suggest a fanciful interpretation of antique clothing styles seen in historical portraits. Some parts of the garment have an unfinished or quickly-stitched quality, supporting the theory that it was re-made, by the House of Worth, for a special occasion on a short deadline.

For more information, see Laura L. Camerlengo, "Costume in Context: Assessing a Charles Frederick Worth Gown in the Staten Island Historical Society's Collection," to be published in The Staten Island Historian in 2012.
Earliest Date 1885
Latest Date 1888
Maker House of Worth
Subjects Clothing & dress
Lexicon Sub-category Clothing -- Outerwear
Catalog Number C01.3305
Support Acknowledgment Online Collections Database record made possible by The Coby Foundation, 2009.
Legal Status Images and text in this database are copyrighted by the Staten Island Historical Society unless otherwise noted. Items represented here are from the collections of the Staten Island Historical Society. Materials reproduced for personal non-commercial use must credit the Staten Island Historical Society. Commercial licensing is available.