These days we're used to seeing and thinking about a whole host of world famous designers and fashion houses. Even if we don't own a single piece from any of them, most folks are at least familiar with a handful of such and we've come to think of their presence as part and parcel to the world of style.
Such was not always the case though and the invention, if you will, of the modern fashion house as we would recognize and acknowledge it today is relatively new. Unquestionably one of the first and most influential early players in this sphere was The House of Worth.
Founded in France in 1858 by Mr. Charles Frederick Worth, a highly regarded and skilled dressmaker who had previously been employed by some of the top tailors in the UK and France, the House of Worth hit the ground running, by offering exquisitely made and deeply beautiful haute couture clothing. As time went on, the company would grow to include ready-to-wear fashions, as well as perfumes.
The House of Worth provided fashions to some of the most affluent, wealthy, powerful - and powerfully dressed - customers in Europe and the world as a whole. From stars of the stage, such as Sarah Bernhardt, Nellie Melba, and Jenny Lind to European royals, old money and new, and those trying to climb the social ladder alike, The House of Worth had an impressive clientele and provided stunning pieces to all of them (including both wedding gowns and costume party ensembles).
In its original iteration, The House of Worth remained in business until 1952 (the brand was revived again after more than four decades of laying dormant, in 1999), with Charles Worth's heirs taking over the company after his death in 1895.
It was under the leadership of Charles' sons, Gasteon-Lucien and Jean-Philippe, that The House of Worth experienced the Edwardian years, and it is the tail end of this very period that the book at the heart of today's post focuses.
The House of Worth: Fashion Sketches, 1916-1918 from Dover Publications is a unique and enchantingly beautiful soft cover book that includes 125 watercolour and ink illustrations, all of which were originally produced by The House of Worth.
That alone would be enough to make any vintage fashion or historical costume fan go weak in the knees, but this book is so very much more. Woven through its many fashion illustration filled pages, one is greeted with an excellently written - and very engaging - historical account of how these drawings (and some accompanying fabric swatches, which are pictured in photographs in this book) came to be in the possession of the Litchfield Historical Society located in Litchfield, Connecticut.
Readers are introduced to the well-to-do ladies, Julia Chester Wells and Mary Perkins Quincy, respectively, who received the drawing as a catalog of sorts that highlighted new offerings at the time, from the House of Worth during the 1910s. Throughout the book, their fascinating lives are opened up to us so as to help us get a better sense of what the typical American House of Worth customer was like back during the brand's heyday.
I've read more books on historical fashions over the years than I could ever count, and can honestly say that this is one of the most unique and appealing approaching to profiling the history of a company, its customers, and its products alike that I've ever had the pleasure of encountering.
The Litchfield Historical Society has done a marvelous job in helping to preserve the history of The House of Worth through these Edwardian era fashion illustrations, just as Dover Publications has done by teaming with them for the creation of this 144 page book, which was published in August 2015.
There is so much to enjoy and admire about the fashions created by The House of Worth. They were pioneers in the field of both haute couture and high end ready-made clothing alike, and unquestionably, they helped to pave the way for many other similar companies, some of who are still in business to this day, that would follow.
If you have even the slightest interest in yesteryear fashion history (and chances are, if you're reading this post, then you definitely do), than The House of Worth: Fashion Sketches, 1916-1918 is for you!
The awesome folks at Dover Publications have very kindly offered a copy of this book to one lucky Chronically Vintage reader. Read on to find out how you can win (they're are plenty of ways to enter and the giveaway is open internationally).
This giveaway is for one copy of the soft cover book The House of Worth: Fashion Sketches, 1916-1918 from Dover Publications from Dover Publications. It is open to readers (participants) worldwide and will run from today's date (Tuesday May 31, 2016) until 11:59 PST on Tuesday June 7, 2016.
The winning name will be drawn using Raffle copter's random winner tool once the giveaway has wrapped up and the winner will be contacted via email shortly thereafter. Your book itself will be shipped out to you directly from the fine folks at Dover Publications.
You may enter using however many of the following ten different Rafflecopter methods you desire. The only entry that is mandatory is that you please leave a comment on this post in which you share with me one or more of your favourite elements of Edwardian era fashion.
The more ways that you enter, the greater your odds of winning become. If you have any questions about this book giveaway, please don't hesitate to email me anytime.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
♥ ♥ ♥
Edwardian fashions, be they the simplest of garments or the most elaborate and expensive produced, have always spoken to me, and getting a chance to read The House of Worth: Fashion Sketches, 1916-1918 was a true joy that left me yearning all the more for a time machine (and a Vanderbilt's pocketbook!) to the past.
Sadly, such isn't possible, but we can immerse ourselves in the history of such care of marvelous books like this, and I truly want to thank Dover Publications for teaming up with my blog to offer a copy of this terrific title to my readers (as well, they've very kindly extended a 25% off coupon code, WFBJ, which you can use on their website to save 25% off on all orders until the end of June).
Many sincere thanks, and best of luck as well, to each and every one of you who take part in this fun vintage fashion book giveaway!