Online Worth/Mainbocher Exhibit

My second museum visit on this jaunt to NYC was a trip to the  Museum of the City of New York (MCNY). I was able to walk through Central Park (how have I never done that before??) and to the museum. Ooh. And after walked a few more blocks into Harlem and had chicken and waffles at Amy Ruth’s with friends (how have I never done that before??). Chicken and waffles. They had a whole menu of *just* waffles.  The baked mac and cheese was the truth. But, I digress…. A few years ago I missed out on the MCNY textile and jewelry exhibit, Notorious and Notable: 20th Century Women of Style. For a history geek it was a fun (and comparatively at $10 admission) inexpensive museum to visit.

While they had no textile exhibits this year, they’ve put a great deal online with their Charles Worth and Mainbocher collection. I’ve become fairly interested in Charles Worth since visiting the Met / Brooklyn Museum of Art exhibit and Philadelphia Museum of Art backstage tour for PR Weekend.

MCNY currently has an online exhibit highlighting both designers.

Worth, 1900s, Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

Man. This stuff is luxe. It does remind me of the Age of Innocence. In the novel, Wharton writes that you wouldn’t wear your Charles Worth dresses from Paris for at least two seasons. To wear the latest fashion was considered vulgar.

Old Mrs. Baxter Pennilow, who did everything handsomely, used to import twelve a year, two velvet, two satin, two silk, and the other six of poplin and the finest cashmere. It was a standing order, and as she was ill for two years before she died they found forty-eight Worth dresses that had never been taken out of tissue paper; and when the girls left off their mourning they were able to wear the first lot at the Symphony concerts without looking in advance of the fashion.”

— Age of Innocence

I *wish*.



  1. Fascinating, I wish I could see that exhibition. I remember reading that book, it left me seething with rage that Americans had been telling us Brits they had no class distinction! The whole book was full of subtle traps to emphasise the difference between the incrowd and the common herd.

  2. Thank you so much for the link to this show. It has been really hard for me to find pictures of Mainbocher’s designs. Scattered here and there in books. It was a great treat to see an entire spectrum.

  3. Wow, what a funny idea– not wanting to wear the latest fashion for fear of looking trendy! Also… Amy Ruth’s… I once spent a week filming down the street, and ate there every single day for lunch! I’m glad I don’t live closer or I’d have serious problems! Chicken and waffles are the best!

  4. Just imagine slipping into that 1924 evening coat with complete ermine lining. . . .
    After a visit to NY a few years ago I started to read Edith Wharton and am now half way through the last novel – The Buccaneers. Looking at this wonderful on line collection highlights just what Lily Bart was up against in her fight not to look “dingy”.

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