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Posts Tagged ‘baroque’

These lovely paper dolls by Tom Tierney show the fashions of the middle/merchant class of the Baroque and Rococo periods.  Styles worn by the nobles and royalty were similar in structure, but much more extravagant and exaggerated.

 

PLATE 1

c. 1650    The woman wears a high-waisted dress with a falling, wide lace collar and turned-back lace cuffs common during the early Baroque era.  The man wears a cavalier-style outfit with a high-waisted jacket, wide lace collar, lace cuffs, and high boots.  Decorative canes became very popular during this period and many men would carry them around as an accessory.

 

PLATE 2

c. 1660    The woman on the left wears the German fashions of the period, with puffed sleeves, a small hooped skirt, and a fur hat.  The woman on the right is dressed in the Scandinavian style, with a brocade palatine or capelet over her shoulders and a white cap.  Both women wear decorative aprons and a “housewife” hanging from their waists.

 

PLATE 3

c. 1670    The woman wears a wide collar trimmed with ermine fur, a muff, a hood, and a velvet mask to keep out the cold.  Her underskirt is trimmed with gold embroidery and her bodice and sleeves are trimmed with ribbons.  The man wears a long coat, breeches with hose underneath, and a wide-brimmed hat with feathers on it.  He also carries a cane.

 

PLATE 4

c. 1690    The man wears Rhinegrave breeches under a long, buttoned coat, a lace jabot, and large boots.  His hair is worn long and free in the style of Louis XIV.  The woman wears a high fontage headdress and the stiff stomacher that returned to fashion in the latter part of the Baroque period.  Her decorative apron, headdress, and sleeves are all lavishly trimmed with lace.

 

PLATE 5

c. 1720    This period was a transition from Baroque to Rococo fashions, and so incorporated styles from both eras.  The man wears a long coat buttons at the middle, knee breeches, hose, and buckled shoes.  His sleeves are loose and cuffed, showing the undershirt underneath.  The woman wears a flowered robe à l’anglais with large cuffs and a lace collar.

 

PLATE 6

c. 1730    Both women wear a robe à la française in the “Watteau” or “flying” style, in which the back hung loose from the bodice.  Small panniers are worn, but only aristocratic women and royalty wore the ridiculously wide panniers.  The woman on the right’s bodice is adorned with ribbon bows down the front and has large cuffed sleeves.  The woman on the left wears a lace cap common during the period.

 

PLATE 7

c. 1750    The woman on the left wears a hooded capuchin cape trimmed with fur and ribbons.  The woman on the right wears a gown with large cuffed sleeves and a fichu around the neck and shoulders.  She also wears a mobcap tied under the chin with a ribbon.

 

PLATE 8

c. 1770    The woman wears a solid colored gown with embroidery at the opening of the overskirt and bodice.  A quilted underskirt is worn underneath.  She also has sleeves flared at the elbow and wears her hair powdered and curled, common during the last part of the Rococo era.  The man wears a brocade silk vest under a long coat lined with silk with large buttonholes down the side, as well as a tricorn hat and buckled shoes.  His hair is also powdered and is tied back with a ribbon.

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The rise of Louis XIV, the Sun King, and his court at Versailles, signaled the dawn of the Classical Baroque era in art, architecture, music, and fashion.  It was defined by natural, curving silhouettes, flowing lines, gold filigree, rich colors, and overall voluptuousness.  Clothing contained an abundance of lace, pearls, ribbons, and gold embroidery, and was refreshingly free from the excessive decoration of the Renaissance.  Fashion changed rapidly:  the growing middle class would copy the styles of the nobles, who would in turn create new fashions to stay more “refined” than the middle class.  Unlike earlier periods, where bodices, sleeves, skirts, jackets, and breeches were made to mix and match, clothing during this period was made as separate and entire matching outfits, often made of the same fabric.  This was referred to as en suite, and was the predecessor for our modern-day “suit.”  Seasonality also began to be widely used, a grateful relief from yearlong, heavy gowns and doublets as worn during the Renaissance.  The most important development of this period was the rise of fashion designers after Louis XIV certified the establishment of a dress-makers guild.  This profession contained both men and women.  The most popular designers were well-pursued by the nobility and even the middle class. 

 

Women.  Women’s clothing became much less restricting.  Flexible stays replaced hard, tight-fitting corsets.  Flowing lace collars replaced stiff ruffs.  Large farthingales were abandoned and skirts were merely layered or padded at the hips to produce a full, flowing look.  Usually two skirts were worn, the overskirt (manteau) open at the front and usually forming a train or bustle at the back, and an underskirt.  Decorative aprons became popular with the middle classes.  The plunging neckline called the décolletage became common, often accompanied with wide lace collars.  Waistlines were also high during the first part of the period, though long, pointed bodices and stiff stomachers came back during the latter half of the period.  Sleeves were large, gathered at the wrist or elbow and often with turned-back lace cuffs.  They progressively became more and more ruffled and segmented as the period progressed.  Solid-colored silks and brocades were used more often than patterned fabrics, and usually decorations consisted only of lace, tied  or rosetted ribbons, limited embroidery, and simple pearl jewelry.

Women wore their hair in tight curls at the forehead and on both sides of the head, called “heartbreakers,” during the first half of the period.  However, hairstyles progressively became higher (fontage hairstyles).  Lips and cheeks were often rouged, something previously only done by courtesans.  Face patches made of silk and velvet and cut into small shapes became very popular.  Since people believed water was bad for the skin, bathing was not a regular activity.  To cover up body odor, people wore profuse amounts of perfume and carried around scented purses.  Shoes acquired pointed toes and high heels, but women’s shoes were ironically much simpler than men’s.  Jewelry was very simple during this period, consisting of single strings of pearls or diamonds or sometimes a ribbon tied around the neck.

Common fashions during the second half of the period

 

Men.  During the early half of the Baroque period was when the cavalier style for men emerged (see right image).  It was much less restrained than Renaissance fashions and copied women’s styles of the earlier period with its high waists, wide lace collars, and lace cuffs.  This style also featured knee-high boots, often turned down with lace, wide-brimmed hats with feathers, long, loose hair, pointed beards and moustaches, and capes thrown over one shoulder.  Pantaloon breeches fell to or below the knee and were loose.  These were the kind of fashions you would associate with the “Three Musketeers.” 

Further into the reign of Louis XIV, however, men’s fashions became more extravagant.  Rhinegrave breeches, or long, loose, overly decorated pants ending just below the knee (which really looked like skirts) became popular and were worn with lace ruffles called cannons just below them.  Large collars were replaced with long lace ruffles or jabots at the opening of the neckline.  Square-toed, high-heeled shoes with rosettes replaced boots.  Men curled their hair and grew it past the shoulders or simply wore wigs of the same style.

Before the death of the Sun King, men’s fashions underwent yet another change (see left image).  Breeches became close-fitting and either tied, buttoned, or buckled at the knee, with hose worn underneath.  Long coats with braid-trimmed buttonholes (brandenburgs) and large, folded-over sleeves were worn (think Captain Hook here).  Scarf-like steinkirks replaced the jabot.  This suite was refered to collectively as the Persian style and still serves as the base of a man’s suit–the coat, waistcoat, and breeches.   Wigs became larger and were usually powdered white, still elaborately curled and even longer than before. 

 

Although the Baroque period was perhaps not as extravagant in the amount of decoration used as during the Renaissance, it was just as lavish in its display of wealth.  Fine ribbon and lace replaced copious amounts of jewels.  Elegant embroidery replaced methods such as slashing and puffing.  Rich silks replaced highly decorated fabrics.  These patterns would continue into the following Rococo period.

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1650-1800.  The eras of Baroque and Rococo in fashion, art, music, and culture.  Their main similarity: practically defined and definitely dominated by the French court centered at Versailles.

Both eras shared their obsession with bright colors, lavish elegance, lots of gold, and all things French.  The French court, and more notably the Bourbon monarchs (Louis XIV to Louis XVI), practically dictated fashions of Western Europe during much of the 17th century and the entirety of the 18th.  France was able to take center stage of popular culture because England was wracked by civil war and Italy’s days of Renaissance glory were over and the country’s influence was fading quickly.  France became the center for lace-making and silk and brocade manufacturing and its many goods were in high demand in other European countries.  Even European newspapers would publish the latest fashions from France.  Little did anyone know that France would remain the fashion icon for hundreds of years to come.

These fashions did not only influence Western Europe.  This age was the zenith of European colonialism, especially in the Americas.  With the English, French, and Dutch in North America, Spain and Portugal in South America, and France and Spain in the Caribbean, European styles were running rampant throughout the Western Hemisphere.  There were also many European colonies in Africa, Asia, and Australia.  France could legitimately say that they controlled popular fashion all over the world, from that comparatively small, yet huge and lavish palace known as Versailles.

It’s amazing to think the French Revolution didn’t occur sooner.  The ridiculous separation from the lavish wealth of the aristocrats and royalty and the devastating poverty of the lower and even some of the middle class was obvious to all involved.  The wealthy perhaps didn’t realize the enormity of poverty around them, or simply chose to ignore it.  Either way, the seeds of the Revolution were planted during the reign of the Sun King and simmered under the surface for over a century before boiling over in the bloody events that changed history forever.  And the court at Versailles, as well as the excess the population there displayed with their clothes, became the symbol of the tyranny the rebels fought against.

And just in case the first painting of Versailles didn’t impress you enough, here is the groundplan of the palace and the surrounding gardens.  That little rectagularish building towards the right?  Yes, that is the palace with over 700 rooms in it.  Lets you know just how expansive the grounds are surrounding it.  If you want to see more images, this site has a lot of amazing, beautiful images of the palace.

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