9/08/2008

Fashion of the week - Daywear, 1808


Parisian day-wear in the French Magazine 'Journal des dames et des modes' from 1808.

The little text beneath the picture helps to further point out details of the dress that cannot be properly discerned from the picture itself. In her hair she has a diadem of flowers and the necklace is made of silver and, according to the text, it is cross-shaped. What they mean with that is less clear since it seems not to be.

The regency fashion had been around since 1793 - that is by now 15 years, but it still had many of the traits from the early days left in it's appearance. The neck-line is still really low and shows off much more than it could possibly be accused of hiding, long sleeves are rare and the colours light. The pattern on the dress is inspired by classical times too. With the ascension of Napoleon as French emperor there came an interest in the Roman empire that seemed to be a more suitable source of inspiration than the ancient Greek democracy that had served as a role-model during the early years after the French Revolution, and this is obvious in the pattern here. The formal look of the dress has very little to do with the flowing lines they took inspiration from earlier on but a whole lot with the formal forms of the early years of the imperial age of Rome.

What was not inspired by neither Rome nor Greece was the ever-present shawl - as can be seen in this picture too (in a bright colour). It was a must in a climate colder than that in ancient times down by the Mediterranean - especially since they had not quite grasped the fact that ancient clothing often were in wool and not just light materials. With a shawl they could preserve the classical lines, and still keep some warmth.

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