ca. 1896 Berthe, Countess de Pourtales

From the fashion spot forum by DosViolines on 31 December 2006; sepia tone removed by gogm.

The posting had this text:  "The House of Worth had Melanie, Countess de Pourtales, as one of its early clients during the late 1860s. A famous international beauty and member of the French Court, Melanie had all her gowns designed by Charles Worth. She was likely the muse of Charles Worth himself, according to oral tradition of the Lodge family. The cape was purchased from the estate of the Lodge family.

Here is the opening of a letter referring to the Countess Melanie and her husband the Count de Pourtales. I do not know the author or the intended recipient "M." in Cambridge, but the letter gives us a sense of the exclusive world of the A-listers at the top of Second Empire society in Paris.

PARIS, March, 1866.

DEAR M.,--I think of your sitting in your Cambridge home and reading this account of the frivolities of your daughter. Yesterday was Count Pourtales's birthday, and Prince Metternich thought out a wonderful scheme for a surprise for Count Pourtales and the rest of us. Princess Metternich and Countess Pourtales were the only ones taken into his confidence. There was a dinner at the Pourtales' in honor of the occasion, and the guests were Baron Alphonse Rothschild, Count and Countess Moltke, Prince Sagan, the Duke de Croy, and ourselves.

Thirty years later, the Countess Berthe de Pourtales makes her appearance in society. She was also a beautiful woman who loyally patronized the House of Worth in the later days of Charles Worth. The society column in Le Gaulois, May 31, 1894 describes a literary party at Versailles—"...Countess de Pourtalès, wearing pearl gray taffeta, sprinkled with dark flowers, pale cuffs, her hat topped with a yellow aigrette..."

See the signed portrait of Berthe, Countess de Pourtales in one of her Worth gowns below.

ca. 1896 Berthe, Countess de Pourtales

Berthe de Pourtales wears a turn-of-the-century Worth dress with a tight skirt and over-bodice.

Keywords:  1896, Worth, Berthe de Pourtales, Countess, French, straight coiffure, square neckline, over-bodice, cap tight sleeves, over hanging skirt, close skirt, floral bodice ornament, neck band, necklace, bracelets, shoes


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