1780s White Chemise à la Reine with Blue Silk Sash and Flower Ornament

Click for larger version; click for the list of dolls.

Well, now, it looks like the readers of this blog have what you could call a slight preference for The Duchess’ costumes (a lovely gallery of which can be found at the Costumer’s Guide to Movie Costumes); as I write this it’s garnered 66% of the vote, with the other four neatly splitting the remainder. Not much of a surprise, we do like our fancy gowns around this joint after all. The possible list of leaked Oscar winners would be against us, preferring Benjamin Button instead, but that has all the authenticity of, well, a random list on the Internet.

I didn’t see The Duchess, or, sadly, any of the other Best Costume nominees, but I wanted to draw something inspired by its main character, Georgiana Cavendish, not the least because I recently discovered the The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide to the 18th Century (and its counterpart concerned with Marie Antoinette) and since I’ve never been much into 1700s fashion before (I love the 1800s, everything before that I’m real vague on) I’ve been enjoying it. Well, lo and behold there is a style of dress that Marie Antoinette started and Georgiana introduced to England, so that seemed to be the right thing to draw tonight. It’s called the chemise à la reine, and it was quite scandalous when it was introduced in the mid-1780s because it was essentially like wearing one’s underwear out in public, not what one expects from one’s queen. A very simple garment, it was really the precursor of the Regency gowns as the waistline inched upwards.

Don’t forget — livedolling the Oscars here, tomorrow! Stick around the comments section and help me decide what to draw. I’ll be looking frantically for streaming video of the red carpet show (more interesting than reloading Getty Images all the time), let me know if you know where to find it.

7 thoughts on “1780s White Chemise à la Reine with Blue Silk Sash and Flower Ornament

  1. It would appear that a new internet hobby has been created. Livedolling. Remember, kids, you heard it here first!

    The dress is beautiful. However much I love the silly frilly ornate dresses, simple dresses will always have a place in my heart. After having been up to my elbows in Cinderella dresses for a while, I’m liking simple dresses more at the moment. I love the way you draw flowers, by the way–they’re like icing flowers on cakes. (That’s a compliment, I swear.)

    I didn’t see ‘The Duchess’ either, but I sort of hope it wins just for the sheer VOLUME of costumes. It’s one thing when a contemporary movie has eight hundred costume changes; it’s another all together when a fantasy or historical (or even loosely historical–‘Marie Antoinette’, I’m looking at you) has so many costumes because everything has to be so painstakingly put together from scratch. So I hope Duchess wins for best costumes.

  2. Yeah, I love simple dresses too — and not just because I have days when I’m lazy, no no, just for their inherent beauty ;) Seriously, it’s amazing to me how this scandalous style now looks more modest than 90% of modern wedding dresses. Then we go to the Regency outfits, and then all the way back to Victorian outfits where they are so embarrassed about what their grandmas wore :)

    I was reading the Costumer’s Guide to Movie Costumes, and they were talking about how one dress (the brick red one she apparently gets drunk at a party in) they had to make three times because there’s a stunt in the scene. Imagine that, making such a gorgeous dress knowing its time was up so soon!

  3. I don’t think I could handle making something so lovely and then letting it get ripped to shreds in a stunt. I don’t even like giving the things I make to other people because I can never be sure how they’re going to treat it. (“You PROMISE you’ll be good to it?” “Yes!” “Are you SURE?” “JUST GIVE ME THE SKIRT!”) This is why I don’t make costumes for Hollywood.

    Considering the Victorians were absolutely scandalized by EVERYTHING, it’s not surprising that they’d be embarrassed that Grandmother might have worn something like this in her youth. But then, who ISN’T a little embarrassed by the things their mothers or their grandmothers wore when they were in fashion? Anybody whose parents went to school in the 70s or 80s will know this feeling. Fashion trends of wearing one’s underwear on the outside are almost NEVER looked back on fondly, no matter how fashionable they were at the time.

    It’s still a beautiful dress, though–and since you compared it to modern wedding dresses, I think it WOULD make a really nice wedding dress. I’m a huge fan of not-white wedding dresses. :D

  4. Lovely dress. I also am far less versed in the 1700’s then I am in the 1800’s. But recently, I finished a wonderful book about 1700’s fashion in Paris called “Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution” which I recommend highly. Though a bit long at times (I must confess to skimming some of the painstaking clothing descriptions and looking for pictures instead, I’m such a slacker that way), the book suggests that women have always rebelled with their clothing and analyzes Marie Antoinette as a sort of case study. It’s worth a skim to be sure.

    On a slightly different note, it’s fascinating to watch the way fashion is seen as in style or out of style or scandalous based on the people who are viewing it. I remember once seeing a Punch comic from the 1860’s with two women in their huge hoop skirts taking down a portrait of a woman in a regency gown commenting “Women wore such foolish things in those days.” People in glass houses…

    But then, who knows that people will say about our styles in thirty years. Nothing polite, I’m sure.

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