Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895) was a celebrated Parisian couture dressmaker. He was born in Bourne, Lincolnshire, and started working at the age of 12 in a draper's shop in London. Eight years later he moved to Paris, where he opened his own fashion house in 1858. He was soon patronised by the Empress Eugenie and her influence was instrumental to his success. His clothes, admired for their elegance and fine workmanship, became an important symbol of social and financial advancement.
This dress was worn by Princess Nicholas of Greece. Her grandson, the Duke of Kent, gave it to Sir Cecil Beaton, who was then collecting fashionable dress for his 1971 exhibition, Fashion: An Anthology. As with other evening gowns of the period, its original trimmings were very delicate and have been lost. The petticoat and neck edging have been carefully reconstructed from old photographs of Worth designs.