The Museum of the City of New York has opened a new online-only exhibition, “Worth/Mainbocher: Demystifying the Haute Couture,” featuring the museum’s extensive collection of designs from couturiers Charles Frederick Worth and Main Rousseau Bocher, who designed under the moniker Mainbocher. The site features images of 119 works from the two designers whose careers, collectively, span more than a century. The garments were photographed over the course of a month in a second floor gallery of the museum where visitors could witness the process in person. The images consist of 57 Worth and 62 Mainbocher gowns, which are laid out on a timeline of each designer’s career, allowing visitors a completely unique perspective on the transformation of women’s wear over the course of a century. The earliest piece in the collection is an 1860 ball gown by Worth, commissioned by Sarah Diodoti Gardiner to wear to the Prince of Wales Ball in New York, and the latest is a 1967 Mainbocher charcoal wool coat that open to reveal light brown ermine lining. Phyllis Magidson, the curator of costumes and textiles at the museum, explains their choice to release the collection online saying, “The medium of the web site is a much more privileged perspective, because you can see the fine details that wouldn’t be accessible in a gallery. It is also the most responsible way of mounting an exhibition because you don’t have to handle the garment repeatedly or expose it to the rigors of exhibition.” The high-resolution images of the museum’s impressive Worth and Mainbocher collections are now available by going to the museum’s website:, and clicking on “Exhibition.”

Emily Kirkpatrick for The Untitled Magazine

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