Louis XIV. commands—Court luxury and pleasure; disguises—The Temple jewellery— Fashion and etiquette—Successive fashions—Royal edicts—The "Tombeau du sens commun"—Dress of La Vallière—Of Mme. de Montespan—Costume of a lady of rank in 1668—The "échelles de Mme. de la Reynie"—"Transparencies"—Manufactures— Champagne, the hair-dresser—Female hair-dressers—" Hurluberlus " and Mme. de Sévigné—Moustaches for women ; patches—Palatines—Slippers ; high heels—Corsets ; fans; sweet lemons—Dog-muffs—Hair dressed "à la Fontanges"—English style of dressing hair—"Esther "—Steiukerks—" Crémonas "—" Amadis " and Jansenist sleeves —Hair dressed "à l'effrontée "—Dresses of the Duchesse de Bourgogne—Mignardises.
A king who knows how to command now appears upon the scene. In his youth Louis XIV. ruled over pleasure, in his old age over conscience.
But whether in youth, middle age, or at the close of life, Louis XIV. could not dispense with a numerous company of courtiers of both sexes, whom he attracted by means of fêtes and fashion, by continual amusements, and by pleasures of every kind.
In 1650, Mme. Belot, the wife of a "Maître des requêtes," first wore and set the fashion of the "justaucorps," which was like the " hongreline " of former years, but shaped in some respects like a man's pourpoint. As a riding or hunting costume it was also adopted by the bourgeoises.
Scarfs came again into fashion in 1656. But some disbanded soldiers amused themselves by wandering through the streets of Paris and snatching those light garments from the shoulders of ladies passing by, on the pretext that Louis XIV. had forbidden the wearing of them. A few of these scoundrels were hanged, without ceremony, by the police.
During the Carnival of 1659, " court," says Mdlle. de Mont-
pensier, " only arrived at the beginning of February. . . . We often masqueraded in most delightful fashion. On one occasion, Monsieur, Mdlle. de Villeroy, Mdlle. de Gourdon, and I, wore cloth of silver with rose-coloured braid, black velvet aprons, and stomachers trimmed with gold and silver lace. Our dresses were cut like those of the Bresse peasants, with collars and cuffs of yellow cloth in the same style, but of somewhat finer quality than is used by them, and edged with Venetian lace. We had black velvet hats entirely covered with flame-coloured, pink, and white feathers. My bodice was laced up with pearls and fastened with diamonds, and had diamonds all about it. Monsieur and Mdlle. de Villeroy also wore diamonds, and Mdlle. de Gourdon emeralds. Our black hair was dressed in the Bresse peasant style, and we carried flame-coloured crooks ornamented with silver. For shepherds we had the Due de Roquelaure, the Comte de Guiche, Pequilain, and the Marquis de Villeroy, &c."
In 1662, "pleasure and plenty were reigning at court; the courtiers lived high and played high. Money was abundant, every purse open, and young men got as much cash as they chose from the notaries. There was a constant succession of feasts, dances, and entertainments."
In 1664, Louis XIV. distributed presents of dress-stuffs to all his courtiers, who were positively no longer free to dress as they liked. After he had built the pavilion at Marly, every court lady found a complete costume, and a quantity of the most exquisite lace, in her wardrobe. And when by special favour the royal princes were allowed to obtain embroidery in blue silk, it was officially reckoned among the " benefits " received from the king.
Materials were magnificent! Gros de Naples was brocaded with gold leaves and red, violet, or gold and silver flowers.
The " Mercure Galant " of the same year contained the following letter on the fashions, addressed to a countess in the country:—
" As I am aware, madame, that your country neighbours are much interested in the new fashions, I paid a visit lately to one of those ladies who can only talk of skirts and finery. . . .
cc Dresses painted with figures and flowers are still worn, but there is more green in the bouquets of flowers. They are beginning to paint the finest linen, and this is quite a novelty, for all those we have seen hitherto were only printed.
"Jet and enamel buttons are mentioned, watered ribbons, and square watches with looking-glass at the back; but this last fashion does not meet with approval, as it is thought the corners of the watch might be dangerous.
"Net-work coifs were at first dotted, and afterwards open worked ; this last is quite a novelty, as are also the skirts of c point d'Angleterre,' printed on linen and mounted on silk with raised ornaments; every woman has bought some."
Jewellery had a large sale: some in coloured glass, manufactured by a clever artisan in the Temple, was called cc Temple jewellery."
Fashion now became a question of etiquette, and Louis XIV. was lawgiver. The court obeyed every fancy of the sovereign, and the town followed suit, as far as was possible, and more than was reasonable. Debts were incurred for dress. A tailor made a claim of 300,000 francs on the great Conde !
Men and women alike endeavoured to shine in dress. cc At the royal residences," says Voltaire, " every lady found a complete suit of clothes in readiness for her. A princess had but to appear in some striking costume, and every lady of rank immediately endeavoured to imitate, even to outshine her. The most extravagant sums were paid for dresses that were continually renewed." " Scarcely had one fashion usurped the place of another," says La Bruyere, " when it was succeeded by a third, which in its turn was replaced by some still newer fashion, not by any means the last." Never had the refinements of Fashion been pushed so far.
The poverty of a great part of the population in the time of the Fronde has been admitted. But Dubosc-Montandre, the author of a pamphlet called " Le Tombeau du Sens Commun," is of a different opinion, and exclaims in 1650 : " If the people were poor, should we see neckerchiefs worth twenty or thirty crowns on the wives of cooks? or liveried lacqueys carrying a cushion behind their mistress, a mere shopkeeper's wife ? Should we see milliners and butchers' daughters wearing dresses worth 300 or 400 francs?
or gold trimmings brought down so low as to adorn laundresses withal ? And is it not true that clothes ought to be infallible tokens by which to distinguish rank and conditions in life, and that in the gardens of the Luxembourg or the Tuileries we ought to have no difficulty in distinguishing a duchess from a bookseller's spouse, a marchioness from a grocer's wife, or a countess from a cook?"
Our author forgets that extravagance does not always indicate general wealth, though it frequently casts suspicion on the moral tone of society.
On the one hand, the king signed edicts against extravagance, while on the other he encouraged it by his splendid fêtes. The bourgeois alone approved of edicts forbidding gold or silver-laced liveries, and fixing a limit to the price of the handsomest materials. The edict of 1700 was followed by the publication of a print, underneath which was the following distich :—
Trêve à la bourse du mari jusqu'à nouvelle mode." 1
A decree of the council, dated August 21,1665, set forth that no woman, single or married, should be admitted " marchande lingère," unless she professed the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman faith.
Fifteen years later, a poet wrote the following lines :—
" On ne distingue plus nos dames D'avecque le commun des femmes : Dès qu'une personne d'honneur Prend quelque juppe de couleur, Ou dès qu'elle change de mode, Enfin, dès qu'elle s'accommode Dedans un estât éclatant, Une bourgeoise en fait autant ; Elle s'ornera de panaches, Et s'appliquera des moustaches, Des postiches, des faux cheveux, Des tours, des tresses et des nœuds,
1 " Mourning wife has joyful husband, And the purse a truce until a new fashion arrives."
Des coëffes demi-blanche ou jaune, Où les toiles entrent par aune ; De ces beaux taffetas rayez, Qui parfois ne sont pas payez, Car souvent tant de braverie (coquetterie) Cache beaucoup de gueuserie."2
The above satirical and descriptive tirade may, perhaps, have annoyed the belles of the day, but it did not reform them.
Law and criticism were alike in vain, and the history of dress, both masculine and feminine, from the minority of Louis XIV. to the year 1715, presents a variety of phases that reflect the successive changes at his court.
When Marie Thérèse arrived in Paris in August, 1660, she was attired in " a gown enriched with gold, pearls, and precious stones, and was adorned with the most splendid of the crown jewels."
A year afterwards, at a fête at Vaux, Mdlle. de la Vallière wore a white gown, " with gold stars and leaves in Persian stitch, and a pale blue sash tied in a large knot below the bosom. In her fair waving hair, falling in profusion about her neck and shoulders, she wore flowers and pearls mingled together. Two large emeralds shone in her ears." Her arms were bare, and encircled above the elbow by a gold open-work bracelet set with opals. She wore gloves of cream-coloured Brussels lace.
2 " No longer are our ladies to be distinguished From the women of the people ; Since a person of honour Wears a coloured petticoat, Or changes the fashion of her clothes, In short, since she dresses herself In a gaudy manner. A bourgeoise does as much as that ; She too will put on plumes, And stick on moustaches, False hair and pads, ' Tours,' plaits, and knots ; White and yellow coifs, With ells of lawn in them ; And those fine striped silks Which are sometimes not paid for ; For often such bravery of dress Hides much roguery."
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