Worth : Future Generations

Between 1874 and 1875 Worth’s sons, Jean-Philippe and Gaston-Lucien, officially joined the company which they went on to develop and expand. Jean was responsible for design and Gaston for business matters. By 1890 the founder had virtually retired from the business, and five years later in 1895 he passed away. In 1901 Gaston engaged the services of a talented young designer called Paul Poiret (1879-1944) to work alongside Jean. After two years working at Worth, Poiret established his own label and became famous for his oriental styles. In 1902 Worth expanded its operations by opening a London branch at 4 New Burlington Street, in the core of the capital’s elite dressmaking area.

The mid-to-late 1920s were boom years for the Parisian haute couture industry and the House of Worth expanded its operations. In 1926 a branch was opened at the fashionable seaside resort Biarritz, followed shortly after by another in Cannes.

Recognizing the increasingly busy lifestyles of their clients, the brothers introduced new ranges of instantly available, ready-made accessories and casual daywear. In London, the couture house moved to new premises at 3 Hanover Square and a sportswear boutique was opened at nearby 221 Regent Street.

By c1930 the mantle at Worth had been passed to the founder’s great grandsons, with Roger working as designer and his younger brother Maurice business manager. In 1936 the Worth’s sold the London house, which then merged with the London court dressmaker Reville & Rossiter. Mrs Charlotte Mortimer, a former mannequin at Reville, was appointed Director and Madame Elspeth Champcommunal was engaged as the new designer.

Champcommunal had formerly worked as the first editor of British Vogue (1916-22), ran her own fashion house in Paris and was also a practising artist.

Along with many of the Paris couture houses, Worth continued to function throughout the Second World War. In 1945 the London branch of Worth was acquired by Paquin, but continued to operate under its own name, as one of between between ten and twelve couture houses operating in London during the 1940s and 1950s. When Roger Worth retired c1952, Maurice became sole director. Designer Owen Hyde Clark, who had trained with Maggy Rouff in Paris and at Bradley’s in London, was appointed to create Worth’s ready-to-wear collections in 1953. The following year, Paquin also purchased the Paris House of Worth and, two years later, in 1956, the business was closed. The company archive was presented to London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Worth (London) Ltd. ceased trading on December 29th 1967. Paquin sold the name Worth to Sydney Massin who launched Worth (London) Ltd. in 1968.