Incroyables and Merveilleuses, Fashion’s Royalist Rebels

Always eager to explore the excesses of fashion and monarchy, my thoughts of late have been on that fleeting moment of time when the Merveiilleuse flirted with the Incroyable. As all youth must, the fashion forward of the Directoire were compelled to assert their individuality by embracing allegience to the ancien régime. The Children of the Revolution were Royalists, at least concerning fashion.

After the fall of the dreaded Robespierre, the Reign of Terror a recent memory, the parties began. The most pervesely beautiful party theme being the Bal à la Victime, the horrors of the guillotine being refashioned to suit coiffure and sartorial splendor.

Boys in cropped hair,( replicating shorn locks which would have allowed the blade easier access )and saucy girls in gauzy dresses trussed with ribbons( as those unfortunates that had faced the block) spent their evenings dancing on recently mopped blood.

The Bal was an exclusive affair , attendance was only allowed to those who had lost a relative to the Terror.

A louche form of therapy perhaps.

Combining a fascination with anglaise fashion, aristocratic anachronism, and a romantic notion of Classical garb à la Grecque, the result was fantastic. Exaggerated  lapels, indecently tight trousers, gauzy dresses alluding to Athenian nudity ( the maillot, a flesh coloured body stocking enhanced this illusion), comical eyewear, and the most inventive bonnets, the forms both fascinated and incited ridicule.

The Eternal Generational Divide

“New” fashion vs. “Old”

fashion plate by Chataignier, 1797

Les Incroyables 1795

Green seems to have been a particular popular color.

The Grecian Ideal always a popular theme as the following images illustrate.

I admire how this Directoire Darling combined a Robespierre bob with Grecian draping. Love the illusion to bacchic leopard, smart touch.

Has there been a fashion moment like this since? The Aeshetic affectations of Wilde and Beardsley seem middle class next to this posturing.

Perhaps the horror of Robespierre and his crew had one positive (certainly charming and inventive)result.

Maxilmillen Robespierre

b. 6 May 1758

d. 28 July 1794

(not soon enough)

In the spirit of dandies, I was thinking of our own fashion forward. the Steam Punks are of course a delightful bunch, like the Merveilleus looking to the past to refashion their present presence.

Hot young fellow, any self respecting Incroyable would have envied his goggles.

Adore the macabre beauty of this corset, the Merveilleus blood-ribbon seems frivolous in comparison.

Alexander McQueen was able to tap into excess with tremendous grace and beauty,

The white pantaloons remind me of the maillot, suggestive yet holding back.

Of course no conversation concerning dandies and sartorial excess is complete without the ever marvelous Mr. Patrick McDonald. This gentleman truly carries the torch, carry on Mr. McDonald.

Have a Merveilleus day,

sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

9 Responses to “Incroyables and Merveilleuses, Fashion’s Royalist Rebels”

  1. BB~ I was feeling such a sense of ennui until I read your wonderful, thought provoking post. Best, Kendra

  2. wooow. Good work. Thanks admin.

    • babylonbaroque Says:

      Thank you, please check in again, i am planning a post on the Sansculotte.
      Take care,

  3. A great post indeed!

    • babylonbaroque Says:

      Thank you, and again thanks for promoting BB!

      • The pleasure is all mine. Hopefullly a few brave or curious souls will find their way here. The treasures you post demand to be seen!

      • babylonbaroque Says:

        Ah yes, many stout hearted curiosity seekers have ventured over from Chateau Thombeau.That attests to the popularity of your own worthy postings.

  4. Eddie Jenks Says:

    Such an interesting post. Fashion and history and those parties. Thank you for showing me something great.

    • babylonbaroque Says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m wild for the party theme, would love to recreate it, red ribbon partyfavors for all.
      Please continue to check in,
      Take care,

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