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.
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.
“New” fashion vs. “Old”
fashion plate by Chataignier, 1797
Perhaps the horror of Robespierre and his crew had one positive (certainly charming and inventive)result.
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.
Alexander McQueen was able to tap into excess with tremendous grace and beauty,
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.
sorry, I couldn’t help myself.