House of Worth: Dressing Litchfield
Litchfield History Museum

The Litchfield Historical Society’s exhibition House of Worth: Dressing Litchfield highlighted the Society’s collection of original 1916 and 1918 house of Worth watercolor on paper fashion sketches. Sent through postal mail to Litchfield seasonal resident Julia Chester Wells, these sketches allowed Worth’s client to peruse and purchase garments from the fashion house without undertaking travel to Paris during a time of world war. Join the Litchfield Historical Society in exploring the house of Worth, Litchfield’s trendsetters, and the changing face of fashion during the 1910s. This temporary exhibition will make available to the public a selection of the original sketches, as well as period garments from the Society’s collection. The accompanying exhibition catalog, House of Worth: Fashion Sketches, 1916–1918, published by Dover Publications, features beautiful full color plates of all 125 original sketches from the Society’s collection along with accompanying essays by Karen M. DePauw, independent fashion historian, and Jessica D. Jenkins, LHS Curator of Collections.

House of Worth: Dressing Litchfield was on view August 29 through November 29 at the Litchfield History Museum. For more information call 860-567-4501.


About House of Worth: Fashion Sketches, 1916–1918

In 1916, at the height of World War I in Europe, Miss Julia Chester Wells received a package containing sketches from the famous house of Worth. Sent from the Rue de la Paix, one of the most fashionable streets in Paris, the sketches epitomize the world of French fashion in the 1910s. They depict everything from dinner dresses to travel clothing, illustrating the move towards a modern era of women’s dress. Many of the sketches include fabric samples, providing an opportunity to individualize the garment, thus satisfying both a need for individual style and for conformity amongst the fashionable set.

--Karen M. DePauw, "As in wearing certain frocks one is sure to ‘have a happy evening'"


This stylish compilation features 125 watercolor and ink renderings of designs from the house of Worth, the first couturier establishment and founder of the modern fashion industry. Sent to one of their clients, a seasonal resident in Litchfield, Connecticut, the sketches include fabric swatches, design names, detailed price information, and personalized notes.

The catalog includes two substantial essays that address the cultural and social significance of both the house of Worth sketches and the town of Litchfield. The first item introduces the town during the early twentieth century and the residents associated with the sketches, Julia Chester Wells and Mary Perkins Quincy. The second essay profiles the house of Worth in the 1910s, focusing on the sketches and their place within the broader history of fashion and noting social shifts and changesin fashion consumption. The final segment includes images of all 125 sketches, accompanied by twenty annotations that offer in-depth explorations of common themes such as historic design influences and ethnic inspiration.

Published in conjunction with an exhibition at the Litchfield Historical Society, this volume is a source of interest and inspiration to individuals from fashion historians to costume designers.

Catalog Cover Price : $24.95
Catalog available for purchase at LHS starting August 29, 2015
Exhibition Dates: August 29 through November 29

Dover (2015) original publication

House of Worth: Dressing Litchfield is generously sponsored by Arethusa Al Tavolo, Arethusa Farm Dairy, and Arethusa Farm; and CT Humanities.