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COURT DRESS, 1775. costly lace and ribbons by the yard. This in time subsided into the most elegant of courtdresses, though too effeminate in its character for
“L'AGIOTEOR," 1795. any but aristocratic idlers. Such was the costume of the perfumed gallants who crowded the conquests of the day. But before this elaborate ante-chambers of Pompadour and Dubarray. In- costume was finally swept away by the Revolutrigue was the business of their lives ; they look- tion, there was a brief episode of simplicity. ed, acted, studied, and above all dressed with the Franklin made his appearance at court in a suit paramount view of captivating the fairer sex. of sober brown. All heads were turned. Lace Dressing therefore was a laborious and protract and embroidery and powdered curls were discarded operation, which demanded all the powers of ed. Straight brown coats and straight cut hair the mind. It was well if the gallant who com- became the mode of the moment. menced it as soon as he rose from his couch at The habit succeeding this was based upon the noon, finished his labor of love by three o'clock. old English frock-coat, with its ample and awkThe hands, withdrawn from the night-gloves, ward folds, which by some unaccountable freak must be soaked for a long time in lotions and became all at once the rage at Paris. The Duke washes, to remove any discoloration or rough-de Lauroquais used to say that the English frockness; the cheeks were to be tinted with carmin coat gave a mortal wound to the costume of the atives to give a bloom to the complexion, palid French noblesse, which speedily degenerated, with from last night's debauch ; every envious pimple its brocade and gay colors, into a disguise for the must be hidden by a patch; the clothes must be carnival or a dress for a masquerade ball; while perfumed, the linen powdered to overcome the the new costume, which was half adopted by the smell of soap. The proper tying of the cravat ladies, became in 1787 as we see it in the cut was the great labor of the day; this performed, which we present of the fashions of that year. the wig and hat properly adjusted, the most cap- Black, which heretofore had been the obscure tivating attitudes and graces carefully studied be- color confined to lawyers, authors, and all those fore the mirror, and the French noble of the few who then formed the connecting link between the years before the Revolution was prepared for the vulgar and the fashionable world, now suddenly
VOL. IX.-No. 54.-3B
took a start, and became the “ne plus ultra" of gentility. The pre-eminence then attained by it for gentlemen has been retained to this day, while colors are banished to the street or masquerades. At this time, too, that abomination of abominations for the covering of the head, known as the modern hat, began to assume its present hideous shape, for which the transformer deserves the pains of decapitation. Expensive lace became the passion of the dandies, who piqued themselves upon having a different variety for each season.
It was the fashion also for gentlemen to wear much costly jewelry, as another mode of distinguishing themselves from the plebeian crowd. In 1780 was introduced the singularity of wearing two watches at once, burdened with immense chains. This was also adopted by the ladies. The custom now appears ridiculous, but in reality it is no more so than the present one of loading a vest with a huge bundle of nondescript jewelry — coral and
bone arms, legs, and death's-heads—under the name of charms. The Marshal Richelieu was one of the first to carry two watches. One day a caller, by some mischance, threw them both on the floor. He began to overwhelm the Marshal with excuses. “Make yourself easy," replied the veteran of po
liteness, “I never saw them go so well together before.”
The ladies, not to be outdone in extravagance by their lords, turned their attention to their hair, and invented the strangest coiffures. The Roman ladies, in their rage for red perukes, frequently sacrificed their own raven locks altogether, and accumulated several hundred of different shades in a short time. The passion of the French was for white. A caricature of 1778 gives an idea of the height to which they carried their new fashion, which, after all, was not much above the truth.
The chronicles of the day are filled with scandalous stories of the relations
between the grand dames and the artists thus admitted to the solitude and privacy of their bedchambers. The art of the coiffeurs became a great one in the eyes of fashion. A work on the subject was published at eight dollars the volume. The professors became rich and distinguished. The handsome Leonard, who was the coiffeur of the Queen, Maria Antoinette, succeeded in using upward of fourteen yards of gauze upon a single head, which acquired for him a European renown.
The turbans and bonnets of this epoch were equally extravagant. The coiffures of the ladies became so high that the face seemed to be in the middle of their bodies; and the director of the Opera was compelled to make a rule that no lady with a head-dress above a certain height should be admitted into the amphitheatre, because the spectators were unable on account of them to see the stage. If the ladies are induced to class these specimens as “ frights,” let them consider that in their day they were considered equally as becoming as the present styles.
It was in vain that the caricaturists leveled their weapons at these towering head-dresses. "Top-knots” would not “come down." They waxed higher and higher, threatening to rival the tower of Babel; until the Queen was attacked by a violent illness which occasioned the loss of the flaxen locks that had called forth the genius of the coiffeurs. At once down went the towering piles, like castles in the clouds. Every lady at court appeared
with a flat head. The next great change in ladies head gear was wrought by a philosopher and poet. St. Pierre put forth his Paul et Virginie, and all Paris went mad for simplicity and nature. He attired his heroine in simple white muslin with a hat of plain straw. The volatile Parisiennes were captivated. Silks and satins, powder and pomatum vanished as if by magic, and from queen to waiting-maid nobody appeared except in white muslins and straw hats.
Geography was ransacked to find names for these remarkable superstructures for the head. Thus there were bonnets à la Turke, à la Autriche, and, even as early as 1785, America was honored in having one style, called à la Philadelphie ; finally, the wits or the geographical knowledge of the milliners being exhausted, in despair they christened their last invention the “anonymous bonnet.”
Paris, in 1851, no sooner set eyes on the would-be American fashion of Bloomerism, with its short skirts and trowsered legs, than it completely extinguished it by one blast of its all-powerful ridicule. Yet, as long ago as 1772, it had adopted a mode, compounded from the Polonaise, equally as open to objection, so far as scantiness of petticoats was concerned, with the additions of heels several inches
BONNET, 1786. ables of both sexes immediately preceding the Revolution, which was destined to engulf them and their fortunes, were such as almost to palliate the excesses of the people who had so long and patiently borne with the heartlessness and vices of the aristocracy. There was a rivalry among the great lords and bankers as to who should ruin themselves soonest for the favorite actresses ofthe day. Then courtesans rode in their carriages made with panels of porcelain, silver spokes, drawn by six horses, and attended by mounted servants in livery. Even royalty was scandalized and outdone by the magnificence of their equipages, hotels, and houses of pleasure. The nobles, as if with a presentiment of their coming fate, hastened to pour into the laps of their mistresses their entire fortunes, seeking to drown in refined debauchery the thunder of the storm that already began to roll over their heads.
Among the follies which the fashions of this date presented was the confusion which arose be
tween male and female attire. Men borrowed BONNET, 1786.
the laces, ruffles, belts, jewelry, and finery of the in height, and walking-sticks which might easily | women. They, in revenge, took the coats, vests, be mistaken for boarding-pikes.
open shirts, cravats, powdered queues, canes, and The extravagance and luxury of the fashion- even cloth frock-coats of the men. The fashion
THE FASHIONS, 1787, '88. of the male for one month was frequently adopted shoes and coarse coats, and in all ways endeavfor the mode of the female for the next. Sexual ored to transform themselves into blackguards, proprieties in dress were utterly confounded, and with the most complete success. The stones of this medley of apparel extended in some degree the Bastile were made up into patriotic breastto habits and pursuits. The ladies seized upon pins for the bosoms of beauty. Copper buckles the studies and occupations of men. Many of replaced the gold and silver of former years. their conquests they have retained to this day, as Wealth and fashion, once so inordinately displayany one conversant with Paris can perceive. ed, were now the sure tokens of destruction.
In the midst of this extravagance came the Safety was only in abject humility and conspicRevolution. The etiquette and magnificence of uous poverty. But French nature, though it the old society disappeared in the vortex of the could endure the tyranny of political Jacobinism, social whirlpool. Diamonds and lace, flowers was restless under the extinction of fashion and and plumes, embroidered coats and satin robes, obliteration of clean breeches. It soon rebelled, all the luxurious and costly creations of past fash- discarding all past inventions, struck out new ion, sunk more rapidly than they arose. For- and tenfold more ridiculous costumes than before. tunes were annihilated in a day. Royalty even The fashion-plates of that time reveal this rebelput on plebeian shoes, mounted the coarse cap lion against sans-culottism in a thousand comical of the worker, and shouted the hollow cry of ways. A view of the rendezvous of the fashion" Egalitè!” Universal brotherhood was on the able world, the garden of the famous “Palais lips of men, and universal hate in their hearts. Royal,” as it existed in 1792, would better illustrate Religion and decency fled in affright. It was the the “cut” of the day than pages of description. advent of sans-culottism. For a while, coarse- The different political parties displayed their muness and vulgarity, under the garbs of equality tual hatred, not so much in words which they and fraternity, reigned triumphant. For a time dared not utter, as in the silent but mocking elothey took the form of Anglo-mania. This was quence of dress. The popular tri-colors and cut before the advent of the “classical” era. The and unpowdered hair remained, however, in the clubbists carried enormous cudgels, wore thick | ascendency. But neither the horrors of the scaf