ic Langlée, director of the royal sports," says Mme. de Sévigné, cc gave to Mme. de Montespan a gown of gold upon gold, embroidered in gold, bordered with gold, above which was a band (frise) of gold, worked in gold mixed with a particular kind of gold; and forming the most divine material that can be conceived. ..."
All women, including the queen-mother, had made use of masks until the year 1663.
This fashion passed away as political adventures gradually ceased. But in 1695 it still prevailed. "With regard to ladies," says the cc Traité de la Civilité," published in Paris, cc it is well to know that in addition to the curtsey, they have other means, such as the mask, the coif, and the gown, with which they can express respect ; for it is reckoned uncivil for a lady to enter the room of a person deserving of consideration with dress tucked up, face masked, and coif on head, unless the coif be transparent. It is an incivility also to keep on her mask in any place where a person of eminent rank is present, by whom she might be perceived, except when in a coach with such person. It is uncivil to keep on the mask when curtseying to any one, unless from afar off ; and even then it must be removed for a royal personage."
The above rules show how greatly the mask had been in use.
In 1668, women of rank always wore an under-skirt of watered or glacé satin, with an over-skirt trailing behind, and carried over the left arm. Sleeves were puffed, and trimmed with lace and ribbon, and scarcely covered half the arm. They were not slashed. The bodice reaching to the hips, and fitting tightly to the waist, ended in a point. The under-skirt had a double border of gold and silk embroidery, while the upper one had but a single border, like the Greek and Roman tunics.
Here and there on the bodice were trimmings of gimp and ribbon, and a lace collerette covered the shoulders and chest.
Women generally wore pearl necklaces. Cuffs held an important place in a carefully arranged toilet. cc I have been told," writes Furetière, cc that the wife of President Tambonneau takes a whole hour to put on her cuffs."
Knots of ribbon were placed everywhere among lace edgings. When arranged in tiers each side of the busk in front, they were called " echelles," or ladders.
On one occasion Mme. de la Reynie's " ladders" were being spoken of with admiration before Mme. Cornuel, who replied somewhat maliciously: "I wonder she does not wear a gibbet as well." M. de la Reynie was Chief of the Police.
Ornaments of ribbon and chenille succeeded to "ladders." Buttons were fixed on braid or chenille, and corresponded with " freluches " or cC fanfreluches," that is, with tufts of silk.
"Transparents" came into fashion in 1676. "Have you heard of c transparents ' ? " writes Mme. de Sevigne. " They are complete dresses of the very finest gold or azure brocade, and over them is worn a transparent black gown, or a gown of beautiful English lace, or of chenille velvet, like that winter lace that you saw. These form a c transparent,' which is a black dress and a gold, silver, or coloured dress, just as one likes, and this is the fashion/'
The black lace worn on skirts was called " quilles d'Angleterre."
Colbert encouraged the manufacture of lace. By an edict of August 5, 1665, "a manufactory of French lace" was established on a liberal basis at the Hotel de Beaufort, in Paris. The towns designated as the cradles of this valuable art were Arras, Quesnoy, Sedan, Chateau-Thierry, Loudun, Aurillac, and above all, Alengon. The commoner kinds of lace hitherto manufactured in Paris, Lyons, Normandy, and Auvergne, no longer sufficed for the popular taste.
The finer sorts were also made subsequently at Valenciennes, Lille, Dieppe, Havre, Honfleur, Pont-l'Eveque, Caen, Gisors, Fecamp, Le Puy, and the Bois de Boulogne.
French lace vied with that of foreign manufacture, including Brussels and Mechlin.
Colbert eagerly secured the services of a lady at Alengon, named Gilbert, who knew the Venetian lace-stitch, and directed her to set up a factory at Alengon.
Lace called " gueuse " and " neigeuse " was bought by persons k 1
of small means,—other kinds, of marvellous beauty, could only be compassed by women of fortune.
The fine ladies of the seventeenth century, like those of the sixteenth, had their gowns made by men, viz. a certain Renaud, living opposite the Hôtel d'Aligre ; a Sieur Villeneuve, near the Place des Victoires ; Lallemand, Rue St. Martin ; Le Brun, Le Maire and Bonjuste, all of the Rue de Grenelle; and lastly, Chalandat, Rue de l'Arbre-Sec.
As real pearls were very costly, a Frenchman, named Jacquin, invented a substitute for them in the century of which we are treating. . He had observed that the water in which small fish called Ci ablettes " (whitebait) were washed, contained a quantity of bright and silvery particles, and by filling hollow blown glass beads with this sediment, he succeeded in producing, an admirable imitation. But about twenty thousand whitebait were required to supply one pound of essence of pearls !
Silks of every kind were manufactured at Lyons, and a workman employed there succeeded in producing them with a bright lustrous finish ; the process is called cc donner eau."
The silkworm whose silk is a perfect white was now about to be introduced into France.
The first period of feminine dress under Louis XIV. was chiefly remarkable for its monumental head-dresses.
The Sieur Champagne, by reason of his skill, and also of the value he contrived to confer on himself, was in great demand by all the fine ladies of the time.
"Their foolish behaviour made him quite insupportable, and he made the most impertinent remarks to them ; some ladies he would leave with their hair half dressed." Maître Adam petulantly exclaims :—
" J'enrage quand je vois Champagne Porter la main à vos cheveux."3
It was on this account, perhaps, that many of the most refined
3 " It makes me furious to see Champagne Lay his hands upon your hair."
women of fashion preferred female hair-dressers, some of whom were widely celebrated, viz. " Mesdemoiselles Canillat, Place du Palais Royal ; D'Angerville, in the same neighbourhood ; De Gomberville, Rue des Bons-Enfants ; Le Brun, at the Palais; and Poitier, near the Hospice des Quinze-Vingts." They were all wives of wig-makers.
The hair was dressed " à la Ninon," carefully parted in front and flowing in loose ringlets, and partly concealed at the back by a white gauze veil.
An " appretador," consisting of a row of diamonds or string of pearls, was sometimes mixed with the hair ; or twists of hair of various colours, and ic postiches " or false hair.
At the time of the marriage of the Duke of Orleans with the Princesse Palatine (1671), the fashionable style of hair was called " hurlupée " or " hurluberlu." Mme. de Sévigné thought it most extraordinary. " I was greatly amused at the head-dresses," she says, " and felt inclined to give a slap to some of them." The word cc hurluberlu " meant inconsiderate, brusque, thoughtless. Certain ladies were blamed for being "hurluberlu."4
Mme. de Sévigné afterwards changed her mind.
A female hair-dresser named Martin, who succeeded to the favour accorded to Champagne, introduced a fashion that was very becoming to some faces. The hair on each side was cut in graduated lengths, and hung in thick curls, the longest not falling much lower than the ear. Ribbons were fixed into it in the usual way, and a large curl drooped 011 the neck.
The " hurluberlu " developed into many varieties, among others into "paresseuses," the false wigs or long ringlets that fine ladies put 011 in their dressing-rooms on rising.
When Mme. de Montespan was at the height of favour, " she wore point de France, and her hair in numberless curls, one on each side of the temples, falling low on her cheeks. Black ribbons in her hair, pearls which had belonged to the Maréchale de l'Hôpital, and buckles and ear-drops of magnificent diamonds. Three or four hair-bodkins ; no coif. . .
On the whole the seventeenth century was prolific in pretty head-dresses. When the head was dressed " à la garçon/' a parting was made horizontally along the forehead, a few little curls waving loose, while all the rest of the hair was drawn up, and cut short on the neck. Mme. de Sévigné advised Mme. de Grignan to adopt the above style, somewhat modified : " the hair knotted low at the back of the head, so as not to conceal either its purity of outline or its harmonious proportions ; the short undergrowth of hair in light curls on the forehead gives piquancy to the physiognomy, while showers of filmy ringlets on the temples add softness to the expression."
For two years " le faire brelander " was in fashion, that is, the hair was cut short and curled. On the other hand, Nanteuil, the famous engraver, has bequeathed to us portraits of women with most luxuriant hair ; long ringlets mixed with pearls rise from the crown of the head, and fall down on either side.
The " capeline " of the seventeenth century was a hat worn by ladies when hunting, or at a ball or masquerade. It was generally made of straw, with a deep brim lined with silk or satin, and was covered with feathers. Sometimes it was merely a velvet cap, trimmed with feathers of no great value.
Long ringlets were called "moustaches." "Women wore curled moustaches hanging down over the cheeks, and reaching to the bosom. Servants and bourgeoises met with great disfavour when they wore moustaches like young ladies."
From the time of the Fronde, many Frenchwomen had continued very partial to patches. A poet, writing under the name of "La Bonne Faiseuse," says:—
" Tel galant qui vous fait la nique, S'il n'est pris aujourd'hui, s'y trouve pris demain ; Qu'il soit indifférent ou qu'il fasse le vain, A la fin la mouche le pique."5
5 " However a gallant may slight you,
If not to-day, he will be caught to-morrow; Whether he be indifferent or conceited, In the end the fly (mouche) stings him."
In the "Adresses de Paris " (1691), De Pradel informs us that " The best patch-maker lives in the Rue St. Denis, at the sign of c La Perle des Mouches.' "
La Fontaine tells us in verse the use of patches. He puts the following lines into the mouth of an ant :—
" Je rehausse d'un teint la blancheur naturelle, Et la dernière main que met à sa beauté
Une femme allant en conquête, C'est un ajustement des mouches emprunté." 6
As a little fanciful adjunct, ladies wore " palatines " of white gauze, or of English point or French lace in summer, and miniver in winter. They were so called after Charlotte Elizabeth of Bavaria, daughter of the Elector Palatine, and second wife of Monsieur, who was the first to make use of them, in order, it is said, to avoid the immodesty of exposing her shoulders and bosom.
She was called by the courtiers " toute d'une pièce," on account of her frankness and worth, but the " palatine " was her only success at Versailles.
Until the reign of Louis XIV., leather gloves had been worn by men only, and resembled the war-gauntlets of the ancient monarchy; but during his reign women displayed the beauty of their hands by wearing either kid gloves reaching to the upper arm, or long mittens in netted silk ; while charming pink or blue satin slippers, with rosettes on the instep, clad their feet. " This reminds me," says Tallemant, "of some of the queen's ladies, who, that they might wear pretty shoes, tightly bound their feet with bands of their hair, and fainted from pain in the queen's room."
High heels soon made their appearance, and continued increasing in height until heels of eight centimetres were considered quite an ordinary size.
6 " I increase the natural whiteness of complexion, And the last touch put to her beauty By a woman on her way to conquest, Is an adjustment borrowed from the flies ('mouches)."
François Colletet exclaims in " Les Tracas de Paris : "—
" Mais considère leur patin Qui d'un demi-pied les élève."7
"Lise veut être grande en dépit de nature."8
While Voltaire adds, more recently 1—
" Vous aurez maussades actrices, Moitié femme et moitié patin."9
Among the best shoemakers for ladies were Raveneau, Rue des Cordeliers ; Vernon, Couteaux, Gaborry, Rue des Fossés-St.-Germain; Bisbot, Rue Dauphine; Sulphour, Rue St. Sévérin. The shoemaker Des Noyers, Rue St. Anne, only made " very neat shoes," and charged a gold louis for them, from which we may conclude that those of a more elegant sort were excessively dear.
The tight stays, so injurious to health, were adopted by the ladies of the seventeenth century, and to, conçeaJ the discomfort occasioned by them, fans were in constant use ; these were beautifully painted and mounted in wood, mother-of-pearl, ivory, steel, or gold«
In 1656,, Christina of Sweden, while purneying through France, astonished everybody by her eccentricities and the strangeness of her dress. Some French ladies a,sked her opinion as to whether they should use fans in summer as well as in winter.
The Queen of Sweden replied, somewhat çoarsely,—
"I think not; you are windy enough as you are."
But they used their fans in summer, Christina's advice notwithstanding.
They also carried a sweet lemon in the left hand, and occasionally set their teeth in it, so as to redder their lips.
7 " But just think of their pattens
Which raise them half a foot"
8 "Tall Lise will be, despite of nature."
9 " You will have clumsy actresses,
Half woman and half patter."
From 1660 to 1680 there was little material alteration in feminine attire. There were, however, a few changes in minor details. The long pointed bodices, the short sleeves, and the full skirts tucked up over narrower petticoats, remained in fashion. Scarfs reappeared frequently. Masks had not been given up ; and muffè, that were very generally worn, often served to carry about little dogs. " Dog-muffs " were sold in the shops.
An unexpected variation took place in head-dresses. The Duchesse de Fontanges was present at one of the royal hunting parties, when a gust of wind blew her head-dress aside ; she tied it in its place with her ribbon-garters, the ends falling over her forehead. Louis XIV. was delighted with this curious, improvised, and, so to speak, historical invention, which was due to a mere chance. It was consequently adopted by the ladies of the court, in the first instance, and afterwards by the Parisian bourgeoises, under the name of "coiffure à la Fontanges."
Imagine a framework of cap-wire, at least half a yard in height, divided into several tiers, and covered with bands of muslin, ribbons, chenille, pearls, flowers, aigrettes, &c.
Each separate part of the wondrous structure had its own appellation, viz. the solitary one, the duke, the duchess, the Capuchin, the cabbage, the asparagus, the cat, the organ-pipe, the first or second sky, and the mouse. The last named was a little bow of nonpareil, fixed in the mass of frizzed hair that was arranged below the curled " fontange."
" Une palissade de fer
Soutient la superbe structure Des hauts rayons d'une coiffure ; Tel, au temps de calme sur mer, Un vaisseau porte sa mâture." 1
" If a woman only moves, the edifice trembles and seems about to fall." But neither the difficulty of their construction, nor the
1 " A stockade of wire
Supports the supurb structure
Of the lofty head-dress ;
Even as in time of calm upon the sea,
A vessel bears its masts."
care required for their preservation, prevented women from wearing these things.
Yet the king disapproved, and for a few months after the death of Mme. de Font anges the ladies of the court submitted to his taste, after that interval they followed their own.
For thirty years those gigantic cc heads " held their place at Versailles, under the eyes of the old monarch who " protested in vain against towering head-dresses."
There were Cf tignons," or u torsades,55 in many plaits, to annoy his majesty ; there was the " passagère," a bunch of curls on the temples ; the " favorite," a cluster falling on the cheek ; " cruches," little curls on the fore part of the head ; " confidants," still smaller ones near the ears ; and " crève-cœurs," two curls on the nape of the neck.
Each day brought forth some new complication. When was a limit to be reached?
Two English ladies, with their hair worn low, having been presented at the Versailles court in 1714, Louis XIV. said to the wives of his courtiers,—
ccIf Frenchwomen were reasonable beings, they would at once give up their ridiculous head-dresses, and wear their hair in the English fashion."
Notwithstanding their spirit of insurbordination, how could the court ladies bear to be called cf ridiculous," especially by their king ?
They went from one extreme to the other ; and the desire to imitate the English ladies induced them to do that which the king's authority had failed to obtain from them. They very soon made their appearance in the king's cc circle " with their hair dressed low. The poet Chaulieu mentions the fact :—
" Paris cède à la mode et change ses parures ; Ce peuple imitateur et singe de la cour
A commencé depuis un jour D'humilier enfin l'orgueil de ses coiffures." 2
2 " Paris yields to fashion, and changes its adornments ; This people, given to imitation, and copyist of the court, Has begun a day since To pull down the pride of its head-dresses."
Besides the stars of Versailles, Mdlle. de la Vallière, Mme. de Fontanges, and Mme. de Maintenon, there shone also, and not always with the approbation of the sovereign, the stars of the Paris stage. The influence of actresses was increasing. " All the mantles now made for women," says "Le Mercure Galant" in 1673, "are no longer plaited, but quite plain, so that the figure is better shown off. They are called mantles " à la Sylvie," although invented by Mdlle. de Molière, but they are named after a book called cLa Sylvie de Molière.' Those, however, who have read the book, know well enough that it was not his story." Mdlle. de Molière composed most splendid costumes for herself.
After the representation of Esther in 1689, the fashions suddenly changed. The Ninon and Montespan styles had lasted until the year of the famous jubilee of 1676. "In the early and doubtful dawn of Mme. de Maintenons career," says J. Michelet, " and especially in those equivocal years preceding her marriage, she had adopted a head-dress which was at once coquettish and devout, which in part concealed, and in part displayed, the scarf she had bestowed on the ladies of St. Cyr, and which had been imitated by all. After Esther, the scarf was put aside, and the face boldly exposed. The head-dress was raised higher and higher in various ways, and resembled a mitre or a Persian tiara. Gigantic combs were worn, or towers or spires of lace, and, later, a scaffolding of hair; or the diadem-cap adopted by Mme. de Maintenon, the helmet cap, or dragoon's crest, with which the more audacious beauties (like Mme. la Duchesse) adorned their bolder charms. Her portraits, and those of De Caylus, are the prettiest of the time, and seem to be the types of Fashion."
The battle of Steinkirk, in which the Prince of Orange was defeated, was commemorated in women's dress. They wore "Steinkirk" ties, or kerchiefs, twisted round the throat with studied and graceful negligence. This was in honour of the French officers, who, taken by surprise, had only time to throw their cravats about their necks, rush out on the English, and defeat them. Mdlle. Marthe le Rochois, a singer of the day, had set the fashion by loosely tying on a cravat over her stage dress in the opera of Thetis et Pelée. This was a delicate compliment, and it was appreciated and copied.
All novelties in jewellery were ff à la Steinkirk." The fashion of the cravats did not last long, but was revived later in the shape of ff fichus," or three-cornered silk neckerchiefs, trimmed with lace, gold fringe, or gold and silver thread.
Another fashion was derived from war. ff Crémonas," or light trimmings either puffed or plaited, and sewn to both edges of a ribbon, made their appearance in 1702. They were intended to commemorate Prince Eugene's entry into Cremona, where the Maréchal de Villeroi was made prisoner.
In 1684, women still wore under-skirts trimmed with ff falbalas " or bands of plaitings, or puffs either placed high up or low down on the skirt—and upper gowns with long trains, like those of 1668 ; but the bodice of the same colour as the train, was made with a small basque cut away in front. It was half open, and disclosed a braided stomacher, above which was a chemisette of fine muslin or lace, or a " follette/' a very light kind of fichu.
Sleeves were no longer puffed, but were worn close fitting, with a lace frill.
Rosettes in satin ribbon were out of fashion. fC Amadis" sleeves were seen for the first time in the stage dresses of Amadis des Gaules, an opera, of which the music was by Lulli, and the words were by Quinault. They had been designed by the Chevalier Bernin for Mdlle. le Roçhoïs, in order to conceal the ugliness of her arms.
Half dress, or fC négligé," consisted of a black gown, black adjuncts, and a white apron. Widows dressed in white.
Another kind of sleeve, covering the arm, was called the ff Jansenist," in allusion to the severe morals of the Port Royalists, who were always warring against insufficient or light clothing.
The hair was dressed in artistically arranged curls, beneath a coif of moderate height, not unlike a hollow toque, generally speaking goffered, and made either of starched muslin or magnificent lace.
There were many sorts of caps, with hanging lappets, or one lappet or "jardinière." Wasps or butterflies made of brilliants, says Boursault,—
" Paraissaient voltiger dans les cheveux des dames." 3
There was also a fashionable head-dress, placed at the back of the head, and showing the ear ; this was called the " effrontée," or " barefaced."
The costume was completed by a necklace, the inevitable fan, and the high-heeled shoes that are characteristic of a whole epoch in dress.
On the occasion of the betrothal of the daughter of Monsieur with the Duc de Lorraine, the Duchesse de Bourgogne wore on the first day a gown of silver tissue, with gold flowers, touched with a little flame-colour and green, and in her hair the finest of the crown diamonds. The next day her gown was of grey damask, with silver flowers, and she wore diamonds and emeralds. Mademoiselle wore a coat of gros de Tours richly embroidered in gold ; her skirt, of silver tissue, was embroidered in gold touched with flame-colour. She wore a splendid set of diamonds, and a mantle of gold point d'Espagne, six yards and a half long, and her train was carried by the Grand Duchess. Another time her coat and skirt were both of cloth of silver, all laced with silver. Her jewels were diamonds and rubies.
"Towards 1700," says Michelet, "the women of the time no longer show the classic features of à Ninon, or a Montespan, nor the rich development that they so freely displayed. But the devil was no loser. If backs and shoulders are concealed from our gaze, the small portion that we are permitted to admire, and that is, as it were, offered to our inspection, is but the more attractive. There is a sort of audacity about the uncovered brow, the hair drawn back so as to show its every root, the high comb, or diadem-cap, that seems little in harmony with the soft and childish features of the day. This childishness, so devoid of innocence, combined with the masculine Steinkirk, gives them the appearance of pets of the seraglio, or of impudent pages who have stolen women's garments."
3 " Seemed to flutter in the ladies' hair."
For a long time the artist Mignard enjoyed the pleasant monopoly of painting portraits of the court ladies, and these Madonnas of his were so completely the rage, that the Versailles ladies wished to be distinguished by their " mignarde " faces; they endeavoured to obtain cc mignardise" of expression, they smiled "mignardement," and put on little "mignard" affectations. The word became part of our language, and was used with great frequency in the complimentary talk addressed to women.
Mignard was succeeded by a painter called Largilliere; and "mignardise" began to give way to a colder and simpler style, though still somewhat tinged with affectation. Mme. de Main-tenon on one occasion wore a gown of dead-leaf damask, quite plain, a head-dress " en battant Tceil," and a cross composed of four diamonds on her neck—a cross a la Maintenon. The quasi- queen having thus set the fashion of veils and grim coifs, all her faithful followers looked like heaps of black and sombre materials.
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