Saturday, March 30, 2013

Thank you, Choll!

This past week, The Choll (at Thread-Headed Snippet) gave me the Very Inspiring Blogger award.  It means a lot to me!  I know I don't sew very much - and now that I've started a job as a full-time temp receptionist I will probably sew even less, even for my Etsy store - but by posting the Galerie des Modes and other fashion plates and miscellaneous information I do hope to inspire people.

The instructions are to give seven random facts about myself, and then nominate 15 other bloggers who inspire me.

1. I am a very messy person.  My bedroom is just full of stuff (mostly books and clothes), and about half of the family room is covered with supplies and scraps for all the white cotton collars and ruffles and chemisettes I've been making.  I just have a tendency to spread out everywhere and take up all available space.

2. Sansa Stark is my favorite character in all of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and in Game of Thrones.  I have been known to get into heated debate online over why she is not a spoiled brat who ruins everything.  She is the best, and Sophie Turner is the best, and if HBO or GRRM decided to do a show/book all about her it would just be super.

3. I have the biggest sweet tooth.  I think it's because I'm a supertaster and so desserts are not just good but AMAZING and I must have them.  I generally only make cookies or brownies, though, because it feels harder to justify, like, making a cake for yourself.  I did try to make a Battenberg cake once just for myself but I screwed it up ... royally (hahaha ... nobody else is going to find that funny, are they).

4. I am loving Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor, but in some ways I really do think that Christopher Eccleston was the most amazing of New Who.  Matt Smith has boundless energy but to a certain extent it feels like he's not acting so much as being who he is, Tennant seemed to be overacting more and more as he went on, but Eccleston is just the man.

5. Lost in Austen has a lot of flaws, but I really liked how its Darcy was seriously a jerk at first and even the viewer had to dislike him.  (I can find something to like about any adaptation of any book, I think.  Even Howl's Moving Castle, which bore only the slightest resemblance to its source.  It's a talent.)

6. I have over a hundred tabs open in Firefox right now, maybe even over 200.  I know, I know.  I have several groups going, most of them full of fashion plates or whatever that I'm totally going to get back to pinning, and this current one seems to have a lot of blog posts I've been meaning to comment on.

7. In third grade, when we had to do an oral report on anything we wanted, I did one on eighteenth century women's undergarments.  The poster had a woman whose skirt you could fold up to see her hoops.  It gave me a short obsession with drawing a woman in her historical undergarments on one side of a piece of paper and then tracing over them on the other side to show her dress.

And my nominations (five rather than fifteen, but I'm trying to avoid double-nomming):

- Julie at The Fashionable Flower is a great friend of mine, and is responsible for getting me to make anything at all by starting up the Empire State Costumers.  She's an amazing seamstress who even knows the magic art of fitting (something I am not so hot on).

- Mouse Borg Designs is one of those young prodigies that make me feel hopelessly old and hamfisted.  I mean, look at her quilting.  Someday I will quilt a petticoat!

- I haven't been into Regency-proper clothing for a long time, but Kleidung um 1800 has been largely responsible for my increased interest of late, because everything she makes is so unique and vibrant.

- Clara at Things I Vacuumed Today is another great friend, and listen you don't even know how much she inspires me re: at some point getting a permanent job in a museum!  It's almost like being there.

- Costumière hystérique is one of those blogs with just massive amounts of research, and I LOVE IT.  So much!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Galerie des Modes, 33e Cahier, 1ere Figure

Taffeta lévite, fitted and trimmed with gauze around it; fashionable belt.  The woman is coiffed with a Spa hat.  The dancing master in an informal suit in the fashionable color, and coiffed en herisson. (1780)

The times are no more when one was obliged to specify on ball invitations: ladies without hoops.  Dancers present themselves in short petticoats and fitted gowns.  Such is the turn-out of this amiable student.  Over her fashionable lévite, simply ornamented with a trim of gauze, she passed a spotted ribbon ending with tassels and fringe in the guise of a belt.  Her arms raise the corners of a light gauze apron.  Collar, equally of gauze, knotted in a bow whose ends, after a charming route, are lost under the parfait contentement.  Coiffure in a racine droite, with three curls on each side, of which one is fashionable and falling.  Spa hat, pulled up as a tricorn and surmounted with three plumes which fall softly over the coiffure.  Ribbon bows on the low-heeled shoes.

The young dancing master reveals all the grace of his presence through a simple but elegant suit, whose whole severity is relieved by the manchettes and the discreet lace jabot.  He has untied the ribbon of his cumbersome sword and has unceremoniously propped it against the chair which holds his little hat.  This imitator of Marcel in the art of teaching the minuet, the gavotte, and the passepied seems to speak like him to his docile and graceful student: one jumps abroad, but one only dances in Paris.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

End of Volume Two

So I've unfortunately hit the end of the copy of Galerie des Modes from Bunka Gakuen (I would have been linking to the original page each time I posted, but the site is not set up to facilitate that).  All is not lost - they have a second copy of the entire thing!  But.  There is a but.

The second copy, which is where I've been getting the color plates from, is not perfect.  I think it's a reprint from the 1910s.  There are inexplicable omissions (inexplicable because I don't even know what the plates are of - I can just see from the table of contents that some are missing) and, most irritating of all, some amount of the original long descriptions have been replaced with text from Louis-Sebastien Mercier's Tableau de Paris.  I can't be sure how frequent it is yet as I've only translated the first couple of books.  Tableau de Paris looks to be an extremely good source for historical context, but it lacks what I consider the best parts of this project: directly labeling parts of the image and giving explanations for unseen or ambiguous attributes.  I'm going to continue translating, but I wanted to explain what was going on first so it didn't look like I'd just gone mad and started translating something completely different instead.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Galerie des Modes, 32e Cahier, 6e Figure

Young Girl in a little jacket à la Paysanne of Buras, trimmed with Ribbons, she has in front a Gauze Apron, she is coiffed with a black Hat with a colored Ribbon; the little Brother seen from the back is dressed in a Matelot, his hair, curled and frised negligently, without a hat. (1780)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Galerie des Modes, 32e Cahier, 5e Figure

This little Girl is dressed in a Fourreau of painted Linen trimmed with Bands and pulled up à la Polonaise over a white petticoat trimmed with a large Muslin volant; her Coiffure is a Bandeau over the hair en herisson.  The youngest of the Children is coiffed with a Toquet à l'Anglaise. (1780)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Galerie des Modes, 32e Cahier, 4e Figure

The little Girl seen full-face is dressed in a Fourreau of Taffeta trimmed with Gauze; she has a Gauze Apron; her Fourreau is made à l'anglaise.  Henri IV hat.  The other little Girl has a Buras Fourreau pulled up à la Polonaise.  The little Boy has a simple Matelot with pulled-up Sleeves. (1780)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Galerie des Modes, 32e Cahier, 3e Figure

The littlest of these children is dressed in a chemisette or blouse dress, very convenient for children of this age, especially in summer.  The Girl is dressed in a Lévite and the little Boy has a sailor suit with bavaroises of another color.  Corsica hat. (1780)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Galerie des Modes, 32e Cahier, 2e Figure

Young Governess of a child helping a very young child to walk; he is dressed in a little Sailor suit, but he is equipped with a Pudding Cap and also wears leading strings. (1780)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Galerie des Modes, 32e Cahier, 1ere Figure

Young Lady carrying her child in a Cradle to breastfeed while walking.  She is dressed in a Lévite whose Collar is painted all around and trimmed with Gauze, as are the parements of the Sleeves.  (1780)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tea in Kinderhook

On Saturday, I went to the Formally Invited tea at the Vanderpoel House in Kinderhook, put on by the Columbia County Historical Society and Clermont State Historic Site.  It was wonderful!  The whole first floor was cleared, with one room for the tea, punch, and food, one room for coats (and a full-length mirror, so you can make sure your outfit is all right), and the doors between the parlors opened to create one long space for dancing.

The food was fantastic - butter cookies, seed cakes, a pound cake with currants, salmagundi, syllabub (first time I ever had syllabub), strawberry ices, and these little chicken tart things - and there was a whole selection of teas, including the custom Vanderpoel and Clermont blends, which were the two I tried.

My favorite part of the afternoon, apart from getting to talk to so many other enthusiasts, was learning to dance.  Sadly, I can't remember the names of the two dances I learned, but I did learn two!  I could probably even do them again.  I definitely recognized them from P&P95, which was very cool.  I DO ELIZABETH BENNET DANCES.  After that I went to cool down with some champagne punch (movies don't always give the impression that country dancing was a very energetic pastime, but it so is), and spent the rest of the time talking about sewing and museums and the Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Galerie des Modes, 32e Cahier

First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, & Sixth Figures.

This Book, which is no less interesting than the Galerie des Modes, presents diverse clothing for Children, which actually exist and whose summary descriptions are found in the captions which accompany each Print.  We add here, however, some words, and on the revolution carried out over several years, relative to the manner of dressing Children, and on the monument which was just raised to eternize the memory of its illustrious Author.

A Child is scarcely out of the laboratory of nature when one hastens to overload it with clothing.  These first Garments are known as Suits: they are composed of swaddling cloths folded over each other, and held on with wide bands, intended rather to fetter the Child than to clothe it.

However, it seems that the usage of these suits is very ancient, as observed by the Author of a Work printed in 1773 by Debure: [Observations historiques et critiques] sur les erreurs des peintres, &c.  It is probable that it owes its origin to the practice of Infants being fed by women other than their mothers.  These mercenary Women have only sought to alleviate the burden with which they were charged, and it is a resource that procures the suits: thanks to these bonds, a nurse frees herself for her other occupations, without fear of any of the dangers which could betray her negligence.  This is without a doubt the cause which has propagated and given such deep roots to the method of suiting Infants.

Another fashion, perhaps still more extraordinary, for dressing Children when they are out of their suits is a type of boned cuirasse around their body.  This is what is called Stays, a Piqure.  This interior garment is common to Children of both sexes, and Women continue to wear them all their lives.  The same fashion wants Children to be dressed in an uniform manner, and Women's Dress has prevailed.  It is only in the fifth year, often later, that boys take the costume of their sex.

These fashions, these practices still remained, and half of the eighteenth century had already elapsed: Jean-Jacques Rousseau began to combat them, and rectify the physical and moral education of Children.  An eloquent and sensible writer, his writings germinated in fathers' hearts, the desire to ensure the first education of the tender pledges of their love.  Women felt all the price of becoming mothers, and of fulfilling their requirements.  They adopted the fashion of breastfeeding their own children.  The blankets, the bands, the suits were rejected.  Children had the absolute right to live and breathe: stays were ordered to disappear; a costume that is different, but directed on salutary principles, distinguished the two sexes, and a new generation was raised under the banner of liberty.

Happy revolution! it made, in a little time, rapid progress; and every friend of humanity must wish that it becomes general.  Jean-Jacques had the satisfaction of making the agreeable spectacle of this change.  The new manner of raising and dressing even took his name.  We must miss this beneficent Philosopher! and that he has been raised from our midst before having put the last hand to his useful works.

He died in Ermenonville, ten leagues from Paris, a charming place that nature had already formed to the eyes' pleasure, that art could only embellish in only showing it with modesty.  This country has become, through the attentions and taste of the Marquis de Girardin, worthy of the attention of all foreign Travelers, who have not ceased to visit in for fifteen years.  Ermenonville has become above all famous, since the remains of Jean-Jacques Rousseau were deposited on the Isle of Poplars, where the Marquis de Girardin raised a Tomb which was just engraved by Godefroy.

The principal face of this Monument, in an antique form, positioned on a base, is decorated with two pilasters, one decorated with a figure of Eloquence holding lightning and a flute, symbols of power and sweetness; the other is that of Harmony, having for an attribute a lyre on which she draws chords.  One admires a bas relief representing a Woman sitting at the foot of a palm tree, supporting in one hand a Child which she breastfeeds, and in the other the Work of Rousseau, which is titled Émile, &c.  Next to them, Women offer flowers and fruits, on an Altar erected in front of a statue of Nature.  Further, one of their Children is putting suits, bands, stays which he has gathered in a fire, while the others dance and play with a cap on a pike, a symbol of liberty.

On the opposite face, which cannot be seen in the Print, this Epitaph is engraved: Here lies the Man of Nature and Truth.  The two Figures symbolizing Truth and Nature are executed in demi-relief on the two pilasters corresponding to those which were just spoken of.  On the two lateral faces, lachrymatories were drawn.

This Monument is surmounted by a crown, forming, on the great bas-relief, on one side, and on the epitaph, of the other, a triangular pediment which ends on the inner sides of the pilasters, to describe them a quarter circle over each of them; one sees in the pediment of the principal face a laurel wreath with the words: Vitam impendere vero [To devote one's life to truth]; this was Rousseau's motto.  A cinerary Urn, two dying doves, extinguished torches decorate the pediment of the opposing façade.  These are many emblems which serve to character the Work of Rousseau which is titled: The New Heloise.

Poplars surround this Tomb; their interlaced branches form a natural vault above, and seem to protect it: in the distance, the Temple of Immortality can be seen, which the Marquis de Girardin had made at Ermenonville.

Such is the Monument raised to the glory of the illustrious Author of the new method of raising and dressing Children, and it remains only to render homage to the talents of the Printer, who seems to have added to the  interest inspired by this Tomb, by the purity and the finish of its chisel, and the intelligence of the effects.

The six Print which compose the thirty-second Book of the Galerie des Modes are also intended to preserve the revolution that arrived in the manner of raising and dressing Children, as can be observed in browsing each Print.

We speak here of the first; it offers a Woman dressed in a Lévite, holding a Child in a cradle and fulfilling the sublime functions of motherhood.  The elegant parure of this tender mother can prove that pure morals are not incompatible with a taste for the most graceful and newest Fashions.  The desire to assert the charms that were from Nature is not always a crime; it is often one of the effects of sociability.  When in the good old days, the apple of discord appeared, Wisdom never ceased to be Wisdom, to have disputed the price of beauty.


End of the second Volume.


I have examined, by order of Monseigneur the Keeper of the Seals, La Galerie des Modes Françaises, second Volume, and the Explanations which precede it; I believe that this Work may be printed.  In Paris, this 16 December 1780.


The Privilege is found printed following the Plates of the first Volume.

From the Printer GRANGE, rue de la Parcheminerie.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Galerie des Modes, 31e Cahier, 6e Figure

Camisole à la Polonaise, of Indian Muslin, lined with pink TaffetaReversed tapé, surmounted by a Constant Heart Hat, in striped black gauze, and Belted with a rose-colored ribbon. (1780)

CAMISOLE A LA POLONAISE.  The camisole was, in the past, nightwear for Women.  The open Gowns, that are worn at present in the fullest dress, were what one called deshabillés: they were named Robes de chambre.*  It is true that they were without trimming, but as they were, they were never seen outside, and made the pendant of the Robes de chambre or Men's deshabillé of which we spoke in the previous article.

It was under the Regency of the Duke d'Orléans that these Gowns took flight, and were shown in public.  The first were worn to the Tuileries, where the young Monarch resided, and this novelty experienced singular contradictions.

The Cardinal de Noailles was then Archbishop of Paris.  He attempted to prevent the fashion of the new Gowns, or open Gowns, which were represented as scandalous.  A Command was made to forbid them, and by provision, the Priests were placed at the Church doors to prevent the entry of the Women who sported the new fashion.  They were obliged to put on a belt to close the Gown and conceal, it was said, the scandal.  As eyewitnesses to these distractions of the human spirit, we are assured that they saw, next to the watching Priest, Women removing their garter to use it as a belt and by this means obtain permission to enter Churches.

To make matters worse, following the fashion of hoops, which managed to frighten away the enemies of the open Gowns: it would be hard to believe the excess to which they were worn, if they were not noted in the writings which then appeared.

The famous Jacques-Joseph Duguet, Doctor of Sorbonne, raised himself overall against these new inventions.  He drew up a Consultation, or case of conscience, intended to prove that the fashion of hoops was vicious in its principle, anti-christian in its nature, and infamous by its followers.  Other Casuists still more ardent published writings to propagate this morality, and the new fashion was placed in the rank of great sins which it was necessary to oppose with force and without ceasing.

A Woman of spirit dissipated the storm; she transported herself to the home of the Archbishop of Paris, and  made him see what this new fashion was, which had made to him such frightening pictures.  The Cardinal recognized that he had been misled, and the Command was never published.

This squall was scarcely dissipated when another occurred, almost as terrible.  One ventured to ridicule the new fashion in the Theatre.  Legrand composed a type of Buffoonery on this subject, played first in Chantilly, and then in Paris, in 1722. But despite all these contradictions, fashion prevailed; the hoops stayed, and the open Gowns, embellishing from day to day, ceasing entirely to be deshabillé and becoming the grand Gowns, the Robes parées.

They had to be replaced.  Camisoles, which made the night deshabillé, became susceptible to embellishment; they were made as deshabillés parés.

It is one of these garments that is presented in the Print.  The rich ones are made of lace, ordinarily lined with pink; the simple ones must be at least of flowered muslin, also lined with a contrasting color.  Without this etiquette, they remain in their first state of deshabillé, or are a night camisole.

The petticoats also have taken ornaments.  That shown in the Print is trimmed with a volant matching the petticoat, and cut by parallel ribbons, the two edges of the volant with a gathered border.

* These "open gowns" are evidently what we call robes battantes/volantes; I think they're perceived as the same as sacques, just an older version, rather than having their own name.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Coiffures of Godey's 1864

Last weekend I gave you the January fashion plates from my bound 1875 Godey's - this Saturday, in honor of My Vintage Visions's trip to Gettysburg, as she was looking at hairstyles, I thought I'd share the hair pages from my 1864 Godey's, all through the year.

Fig. 1 - Spring coiffure for a young lady.  The hair is waved, brushed over frizettes, and caught into a puff by a fancy side comb.  The back hair is dressed waterfall style.

Fig. 2 - Fancy evening coiffure.  The hair is arranged over a cushion in front, and a large bow falls low on the neck at the back.  A bouquet of flowers is placed directly over the forehead.

The front hair is divided in three parts, and arranged loosely over frizettes.  The back hair is twined and caught up in two loose loops.  This is one of the newest spring styles.

Fig. 5 - The Clarissa coiffure.  The hair is rolled off the face in front, and the ends braided.  The back hair is arranged in a large bow, very low on the neck, and covered with a net.  The ornaments are peacock feathers.

Fig. 6 - The Merny headdress.  The hair is rolled over a cushion in front, and arranged in a waterfall at the back, round which is twisted a heavy plait.  The comb is of black velvet and gilt.  The coiffure is composed of a black barbe and lilies of the valley.

Fig. 1 - Headdress of white plumes, the hair rolled up to one side of the head, the ends allowed to hang in curls, the curls fastened by a jewelled ornament.  The back hair rolled up and fastened by an ornamented comb, which can be seen from the front.

Fig. 2 - Headdress of pink roses and leaves, arranged in a large bouquet in front; in the back so arranged as to appear to catch the delicate lace coiffure and keep it in its place.  The back hair arranged in puffs; the upper part of the front rolled back, the under part curls and allowed to hang down.

Fig. 1 - Coiffure for a married lady.  The front hair is in double rolls, and the back in three long double loops.  The headdress is of point lace, roses, and fancy flowers.

Fig. 2 - Headdress of corn flowers and wheat-ears, arranged in three bouquets.  The hair rolled off the face on top of head on cushions; at the side, on puffs.  The back hair arranged in waterfall style.

Fig. 1 - Evening coiffure for a young lady.  The front hair is arranged over cushions, and the back hair in the waterfall style, with one long curl falling over the shoulder.  The ornaments are peacock plumes.

Fig. 2 - A Grecian coiffure for a young lady.  The ornaments are white and peacock's plumes, with a fancy comb.

Fig. 3 - Ball coiffure.  The coronet is formed of black lace and brilliant colored flowers of the Scotch style.  The streamers are of scarlet and green velvet ribbons.  The hair is rolled from the face, and arranged in waterfall style at the back.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Galerie des Modes, 31e Cahier, 5e Figure

Dressing Gown with sleeves en Pagode, of painted Linen, lined with Taffeta.  
Wide Shirt collar, turned down over the Cravat. (1780)

ROBE DE CHAMBRE.  This is Men's deshabillé: it also called a Nightgown.  This is what we learn from Brantome, in speaking of a certain King, "who never went in good fortune, was in his secret galleries at Saint-Germain, Blois, and Fontainebleau, that he did not have his favorite valet-de-chambre, called Griffon, who carried his spear before him, with the torch, and after him, his great Cloak in front of his eyes, or his Nightgown, and his sword under his arm, and making to place his spear and his sword near his bedside, and Griffon to the door, well closed, who sometimes was the lookout, and sometimes slept."

A singular anecdote: one would almost dread the lot of the Great People of the land, since their pleasures are mixed with as many concerns.

At any rate, the Dressing gown or nightgown has taken diverse forms, since the epoch of which Brantome speaks.  It has even managed to be accepted, for some years, as a day deshabillé, simple or paré.

The deshabillé is paré when it is curled, shod, collared, in a word, when it lacks nothing but an Overcoat or a Coat to be entirely dressed.*

The simple deshabillé, or night deshabillé, admits slippers and rejects garters and all the ties:** the night cap, equipped with a wide ribbon which serves as a headband and topped with a little puff of lace, also makes a part of the simple deshabillé.

We have tried to give an idea of these two costumes in this print.  The upper part offers the deshabillé paré, while the simple type is found in the lower part, which together form a mitigated deshbillé.

Observe also, in this Print, that the fashion is introduced of turning down the collar of the shirt over the ordinary collar, or on the cravat; which seems to announce the fashion of rabats or mounted collars, which had such a vogue in the last century; but only time will tell what will be the success of this renewed fashion.

* That is, when the person wearing the deshabillé has had his hair dressed and is wearing shoes and a cravat; paré could be translated as "full".

** Ie, anything that must be tied?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Galerie des Modes, 31e Cahier, 4e Figure

This Woman is dressed in a fitted Levite, Belted with a white Scarf, she has a Muslin Apron with a large volant, called à la Gouvernante.  Hat of tinted straw, trimmed with Plumes. (1780)

PLAIN LEVITE, covered with an apron à la gouvernante.  Scarf or belt knotted in a chain.  Kerchief of Italian gauze, placed en cravate, forming a désespoir.

Hairstyle à la réforme, that is to say, very low in the front.  This fashion was pushed, all of a sudden, to excess; Women seemed to have passed the word to abdicate the grand Coiffures; but this revolution was too extreme to hope for a long reign: scarcely three months are passed since its first appearance, then it was dismissed.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Galerie des Modes, 31e Cahier, 3e Figure

English Redingote with three Collars and Bavaroises. (1780)

LÉVITE REDINGOTE.  These Redingotes have succeeded the Backmanns, and make the grand négligé.  The color light blue has been affected to them: they must have the short cut, three scalloped collars, situated in tiers.  Revers separated from the collar, held with self-fabric buttons.  Sleeves en fourreau, having a little parement en botte, opening underneath to the elbow; the whole edged with a gance of a matching color.

Gilet with bavaroises, crossing on both sides; breeches of cloth of black silk.  Hat à la Charbonniere, trimmed with its bourdaloue buckled in front.*  The hat of a fashionable color: these colors have been grey, puce, tiger-orange, etc.

Hair rolled au compas;** the queue in a cadogan: kerchief knotted en cravate; chamois gloves; shoe buckles à la d'Artois; shoes à la Mariniere.

* A charbonniere is a charcoal-maker; a bourdaloue is, besides a woman's chamberpot, a buckled cord/band around a hat.
** I believe this means in one roll all around the back of the head.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Galerie des Modes, 31e Cahier, 2e Figure

New Levite of plain Taffeta, with amadis sleeves, the Trim in striped Gauze. (1780)

LÉVITE A PAREMENT.  The bodice closed, held in with a bow.  Sabot cuffs à la Bayard,* with bows at the join of the arm: these are the most gallant of all the sabots.  Amadises matching the petticoat;** very large parement on the Gown, and trimmed en piedouche; the volant sewn, uniform with the parement.

Non-busquée belt, bell-cord style, ending with gold tassels, tufted with sequins in diverse colors.

Coiffure à la Cybele,†† with a ribbon bandeau, pinched and held in with a star of brilliants; a tuft of flowers coming out of the bandeau.

* Possibly a reference to the Chevalier de Bayard (1473-1524), le chevalier sans peur et sans reproche; there is something historicizing about the cuffs.
** The colorist should have made the lower half of the sleeves green.
† "in pedestal style", referring to the way the parements are the same size the whole way down (unlike those of the robe parée)
†† An Anatolian goddess, assimilated into Greek mythology as an exotic goddess with an ecstatic following, and associated with the fertility of nature.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fashion vs. Feminism

AuntieNan left a comment on my Godey's post that I started to answer, but realized it was going to be long enough (and could do with illustrations) that it'd be better served as a full post.
I had a costume history teacher who talked about the development of feminism and how a burst of power for women was usually followed by a period of excessively feminine line for women--the long Victorian period that came after Mary Wollstonecraft, the 1950s after the flappers and freedom during the big wars. She also said that in times of feminist freedom, fashion played down the more assertive lines of a woman's figure--that a woman could only take the reins if she looked as much like an androgynous creature as possible. I don't know if that's true, or accepted thinking, but she sure had some good examples to back her up!!

I remember coming across this in The Beauty Myth, and at the time it seemed to make a lot of sense to me, but I've since done a lot of studying (staring at fashion plates) (and Pinterest, can't forget that, I have over 5k pins right now) and learned more specifics, and fashion now seems too complicated to sum up in that way.  The trouble with trying to pinpoint reasons for changes in dress is that they're so rarely abrupt.  In my fashion mythbusters symposium/class, we watched several episodes of a cable tv show that was meant to show the history of the little black dress, makeup, high heels, etc. but failed, mainly as a result of its constant use of single events/films/people to drive history.

If you look at fashion plates in order from 1800 to 1840, it makes sense for dress to go the way it did - for the waist to drop and tighten, for the skirts to bell out - because all the changes are so gradual.  Fashion is always looking for something new (while also always looking back to the past), so the high waist had to boomerang back to a low waist, puffed sleeves had to flatten out to fitted ones, narrow skirts had to flare out and then get fuller.

(Journal des Dames et des Modes: 1803, NYPL 801884; 1807, NYPL 801737)

Galerie des Modes, 31e Cahier, 1ere Figure

Polonaise of light Satin, trimmed with bands of other Colors, and Gauze Trims.  Cap à tuyaux, belted with a rolled ribbon, attached with a Brilliant rosette on the front and trimmed with Flowers. (1780)

TRITON POLONAISE.*  The Author of historic Essays on Paris, said that in the sixteenth century, Men adopted the fashion of large stomachs, and Women of large bottoms.  This latter fashion is renewed in our days: not only have Women taken bouffantes under their Gowns to appear fatter, but they have applied, in the back, pads to give more roundness to the Gown, and to create the curved Mermen's tail.

This fashion owes its return to the Polonaises, and other pulled-up Gowns.  It gives grace to the retroussis, to give it the form of agreeable draperies; and there is no better expedient than imagining a domed machine on which can be arranged, in the back, the fabrics of which the Gowns are made.

It is thus that Fashions are reciprocally linked, and that one invention is necessarily born from another.  Misanthropes have singularly ranted against the introduction of bouffantes: the same thing happened in the sixteenth century.  Similarly, one finds in Libraries a large number of satirical writings, published then, against the mania of the large stomachs and large bottoms; so it is true that, in all times, new fashions have partisans and detractors.

* Triton was a merman, the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite; triton is also merman in general.