Guest Post | His Unlikely Duchess @rararesources

If anyone likes historical clothes then you are in for a treat with todays guest post by author Amanda McCabe.


Money can buy her marriage

But will it lead to love?

Miss Lily Wilkins hopes her American money will compensate for her lack of etiquette, as she needs a prestigious marriage to save her sisters’ prospects. Raised to believe wealth was her greatest attribute, she’s stunned when her unconventional ways catch the eye of the notorious Duke of Lennox. He’s far from the safe, sensible match she’d planned on—but Lily might just discover he’s the one she needs!

Amazon UK | Goodreads | Amazon US

One of my favorite things about writing historicals is—the clothes!!!  Lily Wilkins of His Unlikely Duchess, as an American heiress, could afford any of the finest gowns of the day.  But of course she would first go to Worth, as everyone of the day did!  A lady simply had to be dressed by The House of Worth.

Charles Frederick Worth, the designer who dominated Parisian fashion in the latter half of the nineteenth century, was born in Bourne, Lincolnshire, England, on October 13, 1825. As a young man, Worth worked as an apprentice and clerk for two London textile merchants. In addition to gaining a thorough knowledge of fabrics and the business of supplying dressmakers during this time, he also visited the National Gallery and other collections to study historical images for inspiration in his romantic style of design Worth relocated to Paris in 1845. Despite early struggles, he found work with Gagelin, a prominent firm that sold textile goods, shawls, and some ready-made garments. Worth became Gagelin’s leading salesman and eventually opened a small dressmaking department for the company, his first position as a professional dressmaker. He contributed to the reputation of the firm with prize-winning designs displayed in the Great Exhibition in London (1851) and the Exposition Universelle in Paris (1855). Worth opened his own firm with a business partner in 1858.

Worth’s rise as a designer coincided with the establishment of the Second Empire in France. The restoration of a royal house in 1852, with Napoleon III (1808–1873) as the new emperor, once again made Paris an imperial capital and the setting for numerous state occasions. Napoleon III implemented a grand vision for both Paris and France, initiating changes and modernization that revitalized the French economy and made Paris into a showpiece of Europe. The demand for luxury goods, including textiles and fashionable dress, reached levels that had not been seen since before the French Revolution (1789–99). When Napoleon III married Empress Eugénie (1826–1920), her tastes set the style at court the empress’ patronage ensured Worth’s success as a popular dressmaker from the 1860s onward.

Worth’s designs are notable for his use of lavish fabrics and trimmings, his incorporation of elements of historic dress, and his attention to fit. While the designer still created one-of-a-kind pieces for his most important clients, he is especially known for preparing a variety of designs that were shown on live models at the House of Worth. Clients made their selections and had garments tailor-made in Worth’s workshop.  This spread his fame far beyond the designers known only to those “in the known.”

The large number of surviving Worth garments in the permanent collection of The Costume Institute, as well as in other institutions in the United States, is testament to Worth’s immense popularity among wealthy American patrons, as well as European royalty and aristocrats. Many clients traveled to Paris to purchase entire wardrobes from the House of Worth. For the wealthy woman, a complete wardrobe would consist of morning, afternoon, and evening dresses, and lavish “undress” items such as tea gowns and nightgowns, which were worn only in the privacy of one’s home. Women also looked to Worth to supply gowns for special occasions, including weddings and ornate masquerade balls, a favorite entertainment in both the United States and Europe. Worth’s clients also included stars of the theater and concert stage. He supplied performance costumes and personal wardrobes for leading actresses and singers such as Sarah Bernhardt, Lillie Langtry, Nellie Melba, and Jenny Lind.

With his talent for design and promotion, Charles Frederick Worth built his design house into a huge business during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. His sons, Gaston-Lucien (1853–1924) and Jean-Philippe (1856–1926), took over their father’s business following his death in 1895 and succeeded in maintaining his high standards. Jean-Philippe’s designs in particular follow his father’s aesthetic, with his use of dramatic fabrics and lavish trimmings. The house flourished during the sons’ tenure and into the 1920s. The great fashion dynasty finally came to an end in 1952 when Charles Frederick Worth’s great-grandson, Jean-Charles (1881–1962), retired from the family business.

Citation

Krick, Jessa. “Charles Frederick Worth (1825–1895) and the House of Worth.” 

“The House of Worth: Portrait of an Archive”


Amanda wrote her first romance at the age of sixteen–a vast historical epic starring all her friends as the characters, written secretly during algebra class (and her parents wondered why math was not her strongest subject…)

 She’s never since used algebra, but her books have been nominated for many awards, including the RITA Award, the Romantic Times BOOKReviews Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers Best, the National Readers Choice Award, and the Holt Medallion.  She lives in Santa Fe with a Poodle, a cat, a wonderful husband, and a very and far too many books and royal memorabilia collections. 

 When not writing or reading, she loves taking dance classes, collecting cheesy travel souvenirs, and watching the Food Network–even though she doesn’t cook. 

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book mad and generally creative

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