Provenance: Mary DeCamp Corning purchased this dress on a trip to Paris around 1867. She was the wife of Edwin Weld Corning, the son of Erastus Corning I, who was the president of the New York Central Railroad and mayor of Albany.
Marks: Label on waistband: WORTH & BOBERGH / 7 RUE DE LA PAIX / 7 Paris
Additional Comments: This suit was made by the house of Charles Frederick Worth, the ultimate arbiter of international fashion in the second half of the nineteenth century. He was also the man who established the concept of French haute couture. His firm, Worth & Bobergh, was the first to show seasonal collections, and to label their clothing. He applied the principles of the industrial revolution to dressmaking, developing a system of interchangeable components so his staff could turnout variations of garments from each collection without having to create an entirely different gown for each customer. Fashion-conscious women such as Mrs. Edwin Weld Corning, who owned this dress, subscribed to Balzac's notion that only those who visit Paris can achieve true elegance.