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The tastes of the Neoclassical movement eventually encouraged other historic revivals and ethnic inspirations. Neoclassical ideals; Neoclassical exhibitionism. Interest in Greek and Roman style established extreme body consciousness, resulting in unusually sexually charged fashions.


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While other factors contributed to their development, the potent combination of Neoclassicism and Seduction defined their popularity and impact. The advent of the style is associated with Marie Antoinette, who is credited with introducing the fashion. Also, because of its simplicity, the influence of Anglomania can be assumed. In this form, the robe en chemise took on the narrow silhouette and higher waistline of the Directoire period, enhancing the use of the thin mousseline fabric; it was now worn with reduced corsetry and petticoats, or without them altogether.

With its lightweight fabric and its lack of undergarments, the robe en chemise was a natural vehicle to express both Neoclassicism and Seduction. Its gossamer fabrication and simple styling created an obvious, if superficial, comparison with the clothing worn by women in the Greco-Roman sculpture revered by the Neoclassical aesthetic.

The fact that what was once undergarment had become outerwear was already provocative and assured its sex appeal. But with reduced underwear—or no underwear—the sheer fabric clung to the buttocks, and nipples could be clearly seen through the garment, sometimes even enhanced by wetting the front of the dress, overtly and salaciously placing the garment into the category of Seduction as if there were indeed any question. Some women with less desirable breasts took to wearing false breasts in order to achieve the requisite allure.

Although similar exposures of underclothes had been part of fashion in the Renaissance and would again in the future the effect was tantalizing. Although the greatest popularity of the robe en chemise was in France, the look certainly crossed the Channel, and it was widely appreciated as an object of lampoon by the cartoonists of the day. In addition to crossing the Channel it also crossed the Atlantic as the French fashions had a more direct line to the new United States of America.

The growing popularity of the chemise dress was also responsible for further promoting a taste for cotton. Cotton fabrics were already well established during the eighteenth century, encouraged by the slavery-based economy in European colonies in the Western Hemisphere, and new weaves and finishes for cotton were developed in European textile mills.

Fancy cottons were often used instead of silk for fine gowns. The delicate, chiffon-like, fine muslin cotton mousseline was integral to achieving the Neo-classic mode for women and for fulfilling the full sex appeal of the robe en chemise. When in , the Siege of Lyon drastically damaged the silk industry in France, the popularity of cotton mousseline grew exponentially, as necessity further encouraged the sexy aesthetic. In order to better recreate the feel of Greco-Roman style, the mousseline was used in whites and creams and soft pastels on the young and fashionable women who wore the chemise dress style.

Giving male sexuality equal time was the vogue for tight leather pants, typically in natural, cream-colored buckskin. Refining the pants to this tight leather version in a nearly nude color was quite likely inspired by the naked athletic legs in Greek and Roman sculpture; as such an artistic reference, the pants have been interpreted as the male version of the female chemise dress.

The ideal fit of the pants was so tight that to achieve the high fashion look, men would wet the leather pants first, and then pull them on, allowing them to dry to the contours of their leg muscles, thus simulating the sculptural look. The look was a precursor of the sexually charged tight jeans of the late twentieth century. As with those jeans, it was fashionable for the fit of the buckskin pants to clearly expose the contours of the penis; such glimpses of male genitalia are evidenced in many portraits of the day. The convention of the nude-color leather pants transferred quickly into military uniforms, where such a Neoclassical leg continued to be an ideal for some time; it is even the source of the continued use of white pants in some branches of the armed forces, a tradition that to this day carries some level of sex appeal.

Although during the Regency years men sported a variety of pant shapes, tightly fitted cloth pantalons were a widespread fashionable option, often fabricated in knit for the man with worthy legs or legs improved with padding , and the legacy of the Neoclassical tight leather form continued.

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The status of high-status fashion icons. Not completely a new phenomenon at the time of Jane Austen, the celebrity fashion icon can be traced back at least to Akhenaton and Nefertiti in New Kingdom Egypt, or certainly to the style setting of cousins and fashion rivals Louis XIV and Charles II.

But the role of celebrity fashion icons was increasingly developed by the late eighteenth century, and the role of Style Icon was inextricably linked to hierarchy. Often different icons encouraged the same fashion on opposite sides of the Channel. Notably, Marie Antoinette, at the French court, and Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire, with her society appearances in London and Bath, were helpful in spreading Anglomania and its simpler dresses, pouter-pigeon front fichu, wide hat, and tousled hedgehog hair, along with other styles of the time.

Although the robe en chemise is commonly and rightfully linked to its French roots, the style had a distinct British exemplar in Emma, Lady Hamilton, as portrayed in the paintings of George Romney that immortalized her as his muse and his obsession.

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The potent combination of expensive clothes worn by the consort of a head of state was perhaps the ultimate expression of fashion linked to power and possibly continues to be , especially in an age when monarchies and courts were declining. A new aspect of fashion that worked hand in hand with these great fashion icons was the development of the modiste. The modiste —the precursor of the late nineteenth century couturier —represented the beginning of the elevation of the dressmaker and stylist to a status above servant or tradesperson, on a trajectory toward the level of celebrity.

The role of the fashion icon combined with the development of the modiste linked fashion not merely to the wearer from royalty, court, or the upper class, but to a creative personality behind the style. During the French Revolution, Bertin wisely relocated to London, where prominent women of fashion appreciated her skills. Both Bertin and Leroy did what they did more than fifty years before the ascendance of Charles Frederick Worth and the supposed ground zero moment of French couture.

These collaborations—Bertin and Antoinette, Leroy and Josephine—encouraged a cult of personality that anticipated not only the great style-setters of the nineteenth century but our own celebrity-obsessed age. The careers of Bertin and Leroy set in motion the celebrity fashion icon whose hierarchy in style is enhanced by her association primarily with one designer; collaborations such as the Empress Eugenie and Charles Frederick Worth, Wallis Simpson and Mainbocher, or Audrey Hepburn and Givenchy are indeed comparable. In addition to all the above elements contributing to a celebrity status fashion system, we also see during this time a marked series of developments in what would become the fashion press, the vehicle through which celebrity style could be best disseminated.

Fashion dolls had long been a method of sharing styles, but fashion plates became well developed, especially during the seventeenth century. This trend developed further in the eighteenth century. Following La galerie came the remarkable work of illustrator Nikolaus Wilhelm von Heideloff. Born in Germany in , he lived in Paris until the outbreak of the revolution took him to London. These three collections of fashion plates represent an enormous step in the development of the fashion press, ultimately the quintessential creator of fashion icons and the quintessential method of distribution of information about the icons it creates, paving the way for the fashion magazines that would blossom during the fashion- and celebrity-obsessed years of the Second Empire.

London fashion developed into an industry, and London dressmakers developed increasing name recognition. Werther and Beau Brummell: Hierarchy by restraint, dress for success. Brummell, the great Regency menswear arbiter and sometime intimate friend of Prince George, followed the paradigm of Anglomania and Werther, essentially making such restraint the mark of a fine gentleman and the official menswear look for the nineteenth century.

Fashion. From the 18th to the 20th Century

Brummell and his circle propelled the style from anti-fashion into the ultimate of fashion. His edicts also encouraged the growth of fine tailoring techniques, and the hierarchy expressed in the quality of construction equaled the restraint of the materials.

With this sea change, the status of a man was, by the Regency years, expressed by a sartorial subtlety that had not been seen before; the change continued to influence clothing through the twentieth century, perhaps reaching its zenith in the power suits of the s and still affecting the way men dress today. Sex and the Romantic imagination. Werther figures in our story again, and while his outfit was seminal to the development of power dressing, it was also the pinnacle of romance at the beginning of a time when exemplifying the Romantic sentiment was very attractive.

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Extreme fashionable attributes for young women included a poetic frailty and sickliness. A young man of the day might have cut his own face to simulate a scar from a duel and likely did so less to impress his peers than to gain conquests among the ladies. Moodiness and melancholy became glorified and sexy. Romantic spirit suited the new, fashionable, darker menswear color story well, and the dark and brooding emotional nature of the Romantic Movement has even been credited if erroneously for the ascendance of black as a menswear fashion color during the nineteenth century.

Like nature, the impeccably dressed gentleman is also broodingly seductive. With his noticeably unstarched and undone shirts, he set a standard for casual masculinity that in its disheveled style served as a prototype for later Bohemians; the undone shirt worn with loose or no cravat combined sex with anti-fashion as it both contradicted the edicts of high fashion and also implied undress, inviting the viewer to visualize the shirt opening further.

The hierarchy of historicism and exoticism, the romance of revival. Revivalism and Orientalism were hallmarks of nineteenth century style, and in fact the nineteenth century did not produce a genuinely original taste and style until its last quarter with the Aesthetic Movement and Art Nouveau.

During the years of the Regency and the Napoleonic Wars, fashions took on the distinctly nineteenth-century form of overt revivalism, not simply of the ancient world, as evoked by the Neoclassical movement, but of the more recent past, the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. The elevated waistline remained parked below the breasts from the s to about After the s established a new silhouette rather quickly, the subsequent near stasis of the silhouette inspired volumes of new trims and details during the s to allow the changes in fashion desired by the wealthy. Heavily trimmed skirts brought complex details back into fashion, more strongly asserted since the years of Madame de Pompadour.

In the Regency years, complicated historic and orientalist elements provided lavish stylistic displays. This kind of statement was particularly noticeable in profuse trimmings, especially on skirts where unrestrained details were common, along with cut edge details and edge trims.

Such elements served not only hierarchical purposes but seductive ones as well since often they were tied to strong Romantic sentiments, buoyed by art and literature. Fine art and Romantic fiction contributed to the revivalist vogue, strongly related to the poetic emotional life of an item of clothing or a style. Complex womenswear details of dagging and scalloping were pronounced expressions of this theme.

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Ruffs, a staple of sixteenth-century style, also returned to fashion and were primarily seen on women; however, male versions appeared in court dress, notably the somewhat monstrous coronation clothes seen in portraits of both Napoleon in and George IV in Of course both coronation ensembles indicate profuse use of other inspirational themes.

In addition to these historic influences, exotic Eastern influences also affected fashion, as the supremacy of European imperialism served as stylistic inspiration. Building on the chinoiserie of the eighteenth century, the spectacle of India became a primary form of orientalism, buoyed by the increased British colonial presence there. The Royal Pavilion at Brighton, built in Indian Islamic style resembling the Taj Mahal, was begun in and represents the apogee of such Indian style.

The style was already strongly present in fashion during the s, in feathered turbans and hammered wire embroidery, and it continued over a few decades. The popularity of the style led to domestic production of such shawls, famously in the Scottish town of Paisley that gave the Asian pattern its name. A portrait of Empress Josephine by Antoine-Jean Gros even shows her wearing a paisley shawl draped around her in the manner of a Greek Doric Chiton, thus melding the Indian and Neoclassical styles in one, a meld typical of simultaneous multiple influences on fashion. A warmed-over leftover: The panier in Regency court dress.

The panier , the basket-like, hooped under-support, had come into fashion during the early eighteenth century in the years of the French Regency. Other similar under-supports had been used in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as court dress styles.

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The panier reached its zenith as a fashion item during the middle years of the eighteenth century, and it continued until the Anglomania styles became popular. Oval frames and corsets from the time of Louis XV have come into vogue. By the end of the century, high heels appeared, skirts became less fluffy, corsets became narrower.

Women got more freedom, emancipation led to the fact that clothes became looser. Gradually tight corsets completely disappeared from the wardrobe. In secular society, the progenitors of a modern cocktail dress appeared. They became laconic, skirts — shorter, jackets and blouses of simple cut became fashionable. The Silver Age 20s of the 20th century was the heyday of Russian bohemians. Really revealing outfits were in fashion. Stockings, pearls, jewelry, hats — all this reflected the era of change.