The Rebirth of the House of Worth

04 January 2011


Worth was the height of fashion in the 18th Century

As every good fashion student knows, the first ever fashion designer, or the “Father of Haute Couture” was Charles Frederick Worth. Born in Bourne, Lincolnshire, England, on October 13, 1826, he worked his way up through the textiles industry and until he made it to Paris where he became as a celebrated dressmaker, originally as a strategy to sell more fabric from his business. He turned out to have such a talent for it, that he became famous for dressing the most refined ladies of the age of Napoleon, with his reputation for unrivalled attention to fit, as well as his lavish use of trimmings and his theatrical flourishes. After his own career ended, Worth's grandsons continued his work with great aplomb through the first half of this century, although the business was eventually sold in 1952.

Now, approximately 150 years after it all started, investors are once again breathing life into the couture house of the designer who dominated Parisian fashion in the latter half of the nineteenth century. 

Executive Director of Development, Martin McCarthy explained, exclusively to Grazia Daily, how they put the team together, starting with new designer Giovanni Bedin, (who has worked with Karl Lagerfeld and Thierry Mugler) who was previously famous for his luxury lingerie and corsets too beautiful to be worn only as underwear.

ADR models a Worth couture jacket in Grazia

McCarthy also explained how they were currently growing the business, with a presentation at couture week, the planned launch of ready to wear and their success in getting certain celebrities to wear the couture jackets in shoots, including Anna Dello Russo in her recent profile in Grazia - looking amaze, natch! The perfume side of the business has been a consistent money spinner, largely due to the never-ending popularity of the scent "Je Reviens" and now the challenge is on to see if the magic can also be restored to the apparel side of the brand with Bedin's unique, glamourous-historical designs.

We asked Giovanni to talk us though his career highlights and his role at the ancient couture house, now reimagined for the 21st Century. . .

Grazia Daily: You were a protégé of Isabella Blow, is this true? How did you meet her and did she help you as a fashion designer?  

Giovanni Bedin: I met Isabella when we showed the first lingerie collection by Worth in 2001 in Paris. We showed the collection for one week and Isabella came on the second day with the Tatler fashion team.  The same night Isabella wore a corset by Worth with an Alexander McQueen jacket at the Philip Treacy fashion show. Isabella loved the look and we became friends.


Designer Giovanni Bedin

GD: All fashion students are taught that Charles Worth himself ‘invented’ haute couture. How does that impact on the House of Worth in its modern day form? Is it a big pressure?   

GB: Charles Worth gave the structure for the house, the base, now I have the responsibility and the honour to keep building it with new collections and creations, in line with the past.

Another look from the AW/10 Couture collection

GD: How have you become involved with celebrities? Cheryl Cole, Anna Dello Russo, Kate Hudson have all been seen wearing your designs, does that give a you a thrill?  

GB: I am flattered that they have been wearing my designs. I think it is very important for the brand to have such high profile brand ambassadors. They simply saw the dresses and liked them.

GD: Would you agree that the clothes are quite theatrical, with elements of historical costume to them? What kind of woman do you think will buy Worth these days? 

GB: I do not like the word theatrical. The dresses reflect an eccentric and sophisticated tradition, typical of the UK. Worth women are very confident and constantly searching for opulent details.


Another look from the AW/10 Couture collection

GD: Are you going to be showing at Fashion Week?  Are you excited? 

GB: We are showing in Paris on 25th January [Couture week]

GD: Who in the public eye dress sense do you admire; 1 at the moment?   

GB: Queen Rania of Jordan

GD: And 2; of all time? Silvana Mangano [Italian actress and movie star 1930 –1989)


Actress Silviana Mangano

GD: What do you think of designers who like to be in the public eye, or even model in their own adverts like Vivienne Westwood or Marc Jacobs? Do you ever see yourself taking that route? Do you like photoshoots? 

GB: I would not do it , I would not like being part of my adverts. I love doing shoots, I enjoyed being shot by Rankin for the the book called Couture in the 21st Century but I enjoy styling more than shoots in themself.


Now. We think that has whet everyone's appetite, all we can do is sit back and wait to see what the brand will do in 2011. Excitement ahoy!

- Naomi Attwood


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