After reading a bit about Charles Frederick Worth, you may be wondering “where can I see a real garment by Worth?” If you’re in London, there are quite a few venues. The majority of places to view historic garments are within museums and you can often set up private appointments with the curatorial staff to see pieces even if they’re not on view to the general public. I would suggest making an appointment well ahead of any trip you may have planned and be specific about what you want to see! Here’s a quick breakdown of where you can see some pieces by Worth:
V&A - The Fashion Galleries of the Victoria and Albert Museum will be reopening in early May 2012 so it’s not yet known what exactly will be on display. Through interviews I conducted last summer with staff members of the Fashion and Textiles Department, I learned that the new Fashion Galleries will more than likely be arranged chronologically so I’d be very surprised to NOT see any Worth garments. That being said, if there are no Worth pieces on display, they have a few selections in their collections that can be viewed through appointments. By searching the collections on-line, anyone can see what they have. From a basic search, it looks as if the V&A has a range of Worth garments - from a tea gown of 1900 to an evening dress of 1881.
Evening Dress, ca. 1910
The Museum of London - At the Museum of London, you can also search the collections on-line to plan ahead for a trip or to see what they have in general. Last I looked, the Museum of London doesn’t have any garments by Charles Frederick Worth listed on-line. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t have any in the collections. I’m not sure when the on-line option of searching the Museum of London collections first became available, but it may not be complete. By calling the museum you can find out for sure whether the Museum of London houses any garments by Worth.
Unfortunately (if you’re set on finding Worth garments in London), it seems the biggest holding of Worth garments are located in NYC at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Costume Institute. More to come soon about the Costume Institute!
Evening Dress, 1909 - 1911
In the meantime, read more about the designer on The Fashion Historian - a great website for fashion historians or anyone remotely interested in the topic.