페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

for a time a strange turn. A year before men went in red night-caps, and magistrates wore wooden shoes. Now the citizens emulated the times of the Regency in the extravagance if not in the elegance of their costumes. The most popular entertainments were the bals à victime. To be admitted to these one must have lost a relative by the guillotine. The dancers wore crape about the arm, and gayly danced in honor of the deceased. It became the fashion to show the profoundest abhorrence of the Reign of Terror. Instead of Robespierre's tappedurs, “hard-crackers," young muscadines, or dandies, in swallow-tailed coats, with their hair plaited at the temples, and flowing behind in military fashion, made it a duty to knock down any shag-coated Jacobin they chanced to encounter. The ladies, too, expressed their horror of the bloody time in a fashion of their own. The Jacobins had made a virtue of destroying life; the production of life must be

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

fold nor the brutalities of Jacobinism could long suppress the pretensions of the young elegants to dress as they pleased. Indeed, it became a species of heroism, by extravagant finery and outrageous taste, joined to a mincing, effeminate voice, to throw contempt upon the coarseness of their political opponents. The jeunesse dorée" of this period were clerks, young lawyers, and others of equally humble origin, who, having aided in destroying the old aristocracy, now sought to excel them in vice and folly.

Each succeeding year gave origin to fashions if possible more absurd than the preceding. The moral chaos that prevailed in France affected all material things. Dress was not only more or less typical of politics, but illustrative of the classical theories of the times. The military scholar of the school of Mars in 1793, wore a mongrel uniform, invented by the painter David, and intended to be partly Roman, partly Grecian, but which any old legendary or phalanx veteran of Cæsar or Alexander would have indignantly rejected as wholly French

Upon the overthrow of Robespierre, fashion took

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

PROMENADE COSTUME, 1801.

[graphic][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

BONNET, 1801.

“MERVEILLEUX,” 1793. the grand virtue under the new state of things. and transparent muslin. Besides, none but those Hence in 1794 it was noticed that every fashion-whom nature had bountifully clothed with charms able citoyenne was either really or apparently far could with complacency thus dispense with dress. advanced in maternity.

Coughs, rheumatisms, and ridicule, soon extinThe “ Merveilleuse" of the same year, by the guished all classical ardor among these few, capacity of her bonnet and the slimness of her though many of the fashionable women of the skirts, will recall a fashion which undoubtedly day were willing to sacrifice both modesty and some of my readers thought “extremely elegant" | health in their desire to carry back the civilizain its day, but which would now be likely to con- tion of the world two thousand years, when silk sign its wearer to a mad-hospital.

was worth its weight in gold and cotton an unThe male specimen of this species was scarcely known thing. While the fashion lasted its want less remarkable in his choice of attire; while the of adaptation to the climate gave rise to some “Agioteur”-a political bully, a blackguard, on a ludicrous scenes. Thus at the famous “ Feast par in principles and practice with some of his of Pikes," when all Paris was gathered in the kindred who disgrace our republic-wore a cos-open air, a sudden storm of rain came down. tume which, like the stripes of a hyena, distin- The thin muslins with which the females had atguished him at once from the more respectable tired themselves " like the women of the free citizen.

peoples of antiquity,” were soaked through in a The attempt, under the auspices of David, to moment, and clung closely around their wearers, revive the classical toga, and to model the fash- so that, as the dry chronicler remarks, “the shape ions for the ladies after the costumes of Aspasia was clearly discernible.” “Titus” and “ Alcibiand Agrippina, met with but transient success, ades" would have been more than human to have owing to the severity of the climate—which was refrained from laughing at the spectacle presentparticularly unfavorable to bare throats and legs, ed by the bedraggled Clorinda" and "Aspasia."

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

The coup de grace was given to the classical | wantoned in its own masquerade. The liberty fashion by the appearance of a favorite actress of dressing as one pleased for once reigned triin the character of a Chinese girl. Her costume umphant. The Jacobins reveled in dirt and would hardly have been recognized in Pekin; dishabille; the classical scholars in nude simbut such as it was it struck the fancy of the plicity; the fops in perukes, powdered heads, town; and the Parisiennes loaded themselves three-cornered hats, and hair cut à la Titus ; the with frills and ruffs, fancying that they were ladies as simple country girls with bonnets à la habited à la Chinoise.

butterfly; robes à la Cybèle; chemises à la CarThe classical party were divided into Romans thaginoise; in short, à la any thing their caprices and Athenians, whose simplicity of attire gave or ingenuity could devise. Each one strove after rise to another sect in the world of fashion called originality; and a more extraordinary crowd than Incroyables." They protested against the in- that of the streets and salons of Paris under the vasion of antiquity by an opposite extreme in Consulate the world will never again see. It dress ; so that, what between superfluity of coat was fashion run crazy. The world of "ton" collar, cravat, and hat, it was difficult to see that were more like the inmates of a mad-house than they had any head at all.

the rulers of society. Madame Tallien—the beauAt this epoch the confusion, or, more properly ty of the day-wore transparent costumes, in imspeaking, medley of fashions-in which every ex- itation of the Olympian gods. Her stockings treme and incongruity was represented—was at were flesh-colored and divided at the toes, on its height. Each taste and political sentiment which she carried rings and jewels. Her friend

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small]

Josephine-afterward Empress—was her rival in what it shall wear, and how it shall live. Not a fashion. Feminine whims did not stop even at this rival disputes her sway. degree of immodesty, but went to such lengths As the Revolution receded so luxury augmentas I shall not undertake to describe. Suffice it | ed. At the commencement of the present cento say that dresses “à la sauvage" became in tury dress had simplified wonderfully, and the vogue; while the pictures and ornaments openly worst features of previous absurdities had disapdisplayed would have scandalized even the Ro-peared, although it would not be quite safe for man world, and been thought not quite “the man or woman to walk the streets in our day in thing” in Sodom.

the attire of that. The grand passion, after the I shall run hastily over the intervening space Egyptian expedition, was for India shawls, pearls, between that era and our own, depending mainly diamonds, and lace of the highest price. Men upon illustrations to show by what changes of cut, rivaled women in their desires for these luxuries. and gradations in taste, our present costumes have the debts of Josephine for her toilet in a short been formed; and how Paris-having for a while time amounted to one million two hundred thourioted in every species of extravagance that a de- sand francs. She had ordered thirty-eight new praved and licentious taste could conceive-has at bonnets in one month; the feathers alone cost last quietly and indisputably assumed the supreme eighteen hundred francs. With such an examrank in the world of fashion. From being the ple, the Court followed so rapidly in the path of butt of mankind for her grossness of garments, extravagance that even Napoleon was scandalshe has become the arbiter of civilization as to ized, although he had said to his wife, “ Jose

[graphic][graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

CRAVAT “A OREILLES DE LIEVRE,” 1812.

LEG-OF-MUTTON SLEEVE, 1828. phine, I wish that you shall astonish by the beauty ed to take it into their own possession-a conand richness of your dress ;" following up the quest which, luckily for the influence of their precept with action one day, when she was not charms, they never wholly accomplished. He clad with sufficient elegance to satisfy him, by would be a benefactor to the human race who throwing the contents of his inkstand upon her could invent a suitable covering for the head, costly robe. Josephine owned one hundred and which should utterly annihilate the present source fifty cashmere shawls of remarkable beauty and of torture and ugliness which surmounts the front great price. She offered Madame Murat for one of him made in the image of God. that pleased her fourteen thousand francs.

In 1812, the leg-of-mutton sleeve, which deJudging from the past, nothing admits of greater scended in its full amplitude to the present genvariety of form than the modern bonnet ; while eration, was in full vogue; also low necks and its rival—the male hat-is restricted to the slight backs, which have ever maintained their popularest possible variation of its pipe shape. Noro, ity, by a strange sort of anomaly, as full dress; the fashionable ladies wear their bonnets merely while short petticoats—which are so convenient suspended from the back of their heads, like the-have been lengthened into untidy skirts that outer leaf of an opening rose-bud. Then-in save the street-cleaners half their trouble. 1801—they overhung the forehead much after I have brought together, in one tableau, the the manner of a candle extinguisher.

| four principal types of dress that have swayed In 1812, the modern hat had assumed the gen- the fashionable world for the past century. The eral shape which it has unfortunately ever since striking changes therein depicted are indicative retained, and with which it seems likely to make of what we may look for in the future. With so the tour of the globe. The ladies have at times plastic a many-colored material as dress, there made various assaults upon it, and even attempt can be no limits to the varieties of costume.

« 이전계속 »