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Rococo 1750-1775 Revolution 1775-95

Dr. Nidhi L Sharda, Associate Professor, NIFT, Bangalore

In Britain the mid 17th century is called Restoration, and in France the 18th century is Rococo. Fashion in the period 1750-1795 in European and European-influenced countries reached heights of fantasy and abundant ornamentation, especially among the aristocracy of France. Before a long-simmering movement toward simplicity and democratization of dress under the influence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the American Revolution led to an entirely new mode and the triumph of British tailoring following the French Revolution.

The term "Rococo" describes a movement in the arts in the early 18th century, in France. Rococo has been born from the Baroque era, during the age of Enlightenment. That was a time when new ideas about human existence were introduced and Rococo art is the visual representation of the optimism people felt in response to that. The word "rococo" is derived from "rocaille", meaning "rock work" or "shell work," a favorite motif of the time. It stresses purely ornamental, light, casual, irregular design. Rococo is seen both as the climax and fall of Baroque art.


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The most commonly used colours were ivory, sand, light blue, blue/grey, and pink. Colours to avoid use of these days are magenta, royal blue and violet/purple. Black, being difficult to produce and therefore expensive, was only used for the upper classes. The lower classes generally wore more muted colours. Tastes were for large floral motifs at first, then favoured smaller motifs and finally, stripes sprinkled with sprigs. Solid colours were also popular throughout. As for fabrics, lightweight silks such as taffeta, satin and damask were chosen in light, pastel colours.

The hoop-skirts of the 1740s were left behind.Women • Women's clothing styles remained confining and cumbersome for most of the period. and the aesthetic of a narrow inverted conical corseted torso above full skirts prevailed during most of the period. • . but wide panniers (holding the skirts out at the side) came into style several times.

shaped like the baskets in which chickens were carried to marked and therefore called panier.FRENCH ARISTOCRATIC COURT DRESS OF 1778 WITH PANNIERS. . • A lady's clothing of the Louis Quinze (XV) era was marked by the hoop skirt which came into use around 1720.

from Nicholas Heideloff's Gallery of Fashion. . Panniers to support wide skirt.Court Dress. Plumes and hoops were required aspects of court dress. Only one plume is worn. A gold overdress is worn over a spangled-satin petticoat. July 1798.


Dolls used to show current fashions."Pandora" or fashion baby. sent from France worldwide for people to order clothes by. .

1775-1780. feathers and raffia tassels.180&A-1965. trimmed with bedded bands of blue satin. flowers of gathered ribbon. . T.Hooped Dress French silk sack-back gown with closed bodice and panniers. chenille blonde lace. V&A Museum no.

Skirts were worn over small. which were displaced for formal court wear by side hoops or panniers which later widened to as much as three feet to either side at the French court of Marie Antoinette. domed hoops in the 1730s and early 1740s. .

the opening was filled in with a decorative stomacher.The usual fashion of the years 1750-1780 was a low-necked gown (usually called in French a robe). pinned to the gown over the laces or to the corset beneath. worn over a petticoat. . If the bodice of the gown was open in front.

. and separate under-ruffles called engage antes of lace or fine linen were tacked to the smock or chemise sleeves.Tight elbow-length sleeves were trimmed with frills or ruffles.

engage antes .

Properly dressed women wore silk stockings gathered at the knee and high-heeled shoes. often with a fancy corset above the waistline that was worn in public and adorned with bows. • • • . Their hair was piled high on the head. often covered with elaborate and frivolous caps.• Wealthy women wore richly decorated gowns. Wide hoops supported embroidered and trimmed skirts and quilted under-petticoats. Knee-length shifts were worn underneath.

The lady wears strapless stays (Corset) over a pink chemise. large powdered Pompadour wig. Her petticoat has pocket slits to access the freehanging pocket beneath (under panniers). mules (slippers). "Tight Lacing. Fashion Before Ease".. 1770-75 .

Stays circa 1720 .

Side view of a gown of 1774 shows pleated robings and striped ribbon rosettes .

apron. Pompadour wig.shorter ankle length skirt. . masquerade balls. casaquin /pelisse cape. Use of masks to conceal identity. face protection Tricorn Hat. pulled up in a swag to resemble a milkmaid outfit.Polonaise .

a waistcoat. a petticoat. the jacket and a false waistcoat-front might be a made as a single garment. the traditional riding habit consisted of a tailored jacket like a man's coat. and a hat.Riding habit • As in previous periods. Alternatively. worn with a high-necked shirt. • .

This lady wears a mannish top hat for riding and carries her riding crop .Redingote or riding coat 1790. with "pouter-pigeon" front.

Indoor cap is trimmed with striped and dotted ribbons. A lace fichu fills in the neckline. . and gown is trimmed with robings of ruched fabric .

with elbow-length sleeves. By the 1790s. tight sleeves. caracos had fulllength. .The caraco was a jacket-like bodice worn with a petticoat.

It was popular for traveling. tight lower sleeves) and a hood. worn with a matching petticoat. .•The Brunswick gown was twopiece costume of German origin consisting of a hip-length jacket with "split sleeves" (flounced elbow-length sleeves and long.

short gown or bed gown.Toward the 1770s. a patched and mended petticoat. based on working class fashion but executed in finer fabrics with a tighter fit. an informal alternative to the gown was a costume of a jacket and petticoat. . and neckerchief.

.green apron over a skirted jacket and petticoat.

1793. skirts were still somewhat full. By 1790.La Comtesse Bucquoi wears a sashed gown with a high-necked. and a newly fashionable scarlet shawl. In other respects women's fashions were starting to be simplified by influences from Englishwomen's country outdoors wear . In the 1780s. and bustle pads (bum-pads or hip-pads) were worn for a time. panniers finally disappeared. frilled chemise beneath. The "pouterpigeon" front came into style (many layers of cloth pinned over the bodice). a turban on her head. though a slight bustle might still be worn).

as in the case of the famous engraving depicting a lady wearing a large ship in her hair with masts and sails — called the "Coiffure à l'Indépendance ou le Triomphe de la liberté" — to celebrate naval victory in the American war of independence). .Hairstyles and headgear • The 1770s were notable for extreme hairstyles and wigs which were built up very high. and often incorporated decorative objects (sometimes symbolic. These coiffures were parodied in several famous satirical caricatures of the period.

often dressed simply in a mass of curls .Hair was powdered into the early 1780s. but the new country fashion required natural colored hair.

By the 1780s. broad-brimmed Mob caps . elaborate hats replaced the former elaborate hairstyles shepherdess" hats tied on with ribbons were worn with the new rustic styles Flat.

wired hood to cover the Pompadour wig. pelisse cape.oversized mob cap trimmed with a wide satin ribbon and a kerchief pinned high at the neckline Calash . French gown over panniers. .

the adoption of plain undress styles was a conscious reaction to the excesses of European court dress At the other extreme was the "maccaroni".Men's fashion • • Throughout the period. waistcoat and breeches of the previous period. Under new enthusiasms for outdoor sports and country pursuits. In Boston and Philadelphia in the decades around the American Revolution. • • . What changed significantly was the fabric. the elaborately embroidered silks and velvets characteristic of "full dress" or formal attire earlier in the century gradually gave way to carefully tailored woolen "undress" garments for all occasions except the most formal. men continued to wear the coat.

was a fashionable fellow who dressed and even spoke in an outlandishly affected and epicene manner . in mid-18th-century England."maccaroni".

Waistcoats extended to mid-thigh to the 1770s. . and gradually shortened until they were waistlength and cut straight across. Waists coats could be made with or without sleeves.

The skirts of the coat narrowed from the gored styles of the previous period. . and toward the 1780s began to be cutaway in a curve from the front waist. coat. Holding Tricorne. waistcoat and breeches long riding boots that reach the breeches.

while undress shirts ended in plain wrist bands. Boots were worn for riding.. The cravat reappeared at the end of the period. gathered at the wrist and dropped shoulder. Breeches fitted snugly and had a fall-front opening. more attention was paid to the cut and fit of the breeches. As coats became cutaway. A small turnover collar returned to fashion. worn with the stock. and were worn with silk or woolen stockings.. .• • • • • Shirt sleeves were full. Low-heeled leather shoes fastened with buckles. Full-dress shirts had ruffles of fine fabric or lace.

Shirt has a sheer frill down the front.matching coat. Justacorps. buckled shoes. waiscoat. cravat. Coat and waistcoat have covered buttons. America. vest. Stockings. and breeches. 1792. . fullbottomed powdered wig. and breeches. those on the coat are much larger.

and buckled shoes. Pigeon . shirt. stock at neck. tricorn hat. vest. Jabot. . justacorps. stockings. vest. breeches. buckled shoes. breeches.wing wig tied with a solitaire.Pigeon wing wig. stockings. justacorps.

and his shirt has a small turnover collar Dark blue coat and waistcoat with fine embroidery on the edges.coat and waistcoat are trimmed with narrow gold braid. deep cuffs. and pocket flaps .

lounging coat. T-shaped silk. Men of an intellectual or philosophical bent were painted wearing banyans. waistcoat. vest. and cravat at neck. with their own hair or a soft cap rather than a wig.As in the previous period. cotton or linen gown called a banyan was worn at home as a sort of dressing gown over the shirt. and breeches. turban. Banyan . . a loose.

Napoleon and his troops .

breeches). . vest. lingerie caps.Sacque/ Watteau gown .habit (justacorps.wide hooped skirt with a pleated panel down the back from the shoulder. solitaire . Short hair. mules’ ladies slippers matched bow on white wig. white or pastel stockings. Male .Women. buckled shoes. Pastels and floral. fans.

the clothes worn by middle. Her son wears a light blue skeleton suit .Children's fashion • During most of this period.and upper-class children older than toddlers continued to be uncomfortable-looking miniature copies of the clothes worn by adults. with the exception that girls wore backfastening bodices and petticoats rather than open-fronted robes . Marie Antoinette and her children on an 17851786 portrait. showing the change to loose anklelength gowns for little girls.

towards the end of the period. .However. and loose ankle-length skirts for girls. there was a change to styles that were more practical for children's play — skeleton suits with long trousers for boys.

fall-front breeches. and a narrow black stock .skeleton suit with a round frilled collar and waist sash. a full shirt.


Next… .

.During the French Revolution (1789-1795). the elegant dress styles associated with the French nobility were replaced by simpler fashions.

showing the large changes in just 15 years .This caricature contrasts 1778 and 1793 styles for both men and women.