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In the confusion that followed the years of the French Revolution (1789-1799), there was no uniform style in fashion, as people was mostly concerned with other, more pressing matters. Therefore, clothing style was often used as an expression of political opinion:

Revolutionaries wore the almost ankle-length, drainpipe trousers taken from dockers and sailors, the so-called pantaloons, which caused such a stir that they went down in history as sans-culottes (literally without knee breeches).
Uniforms were generally popular among men; you could not go wrong with such a fashionable item.
In French women's fashion, silk and satin disappear entirely at first, with an orientation to men's fashion, that is, dresses disappear and are replaced by jackets, combined with skirts instead of trousers.
Artist propagate ancient democracies and, therefore, antique garments. For example, the renowned Jacques Louis David was not just one of the greatest painters, but also one of the greatest fashion designers. Indeed, he was the major proponent and driver of the à-la-greque fashion. Chemises made of thin cotton, simply cut, amply gathered under the chest, partly without sleeves and only collected at the shoulder, were extremely popular.
In the actual Empire period, beginning around 1804 with the coronation of Napoleon, women's fashion set itself apart again with bodices with attached skirts, featuring square cuts and laced sleeves.
Not rarely, these garments were made of such thin cotton, muslin or batiste, that barely weighted 250 grams.
Given that these offered no protection from the weather, they were often combined with an overdress, a sort of tunic, called robe en tablier.
The train resurfaced, often stretching endlessly and often produced as a separate piece of clothing, which was attached to a short Spencer jacket.
Napoleon, in an attempt to put the badly battered silk industry of his country back on its feet, introduced silk dresses back in the Court.
Wearing foreign fabrics, coming for example from India or England, was forbidden under penalty. Shapes were however contradictory: on the one hand, they were still oriented to the Greek and Roman antiquity, and, on the other one, puffs and slots emerged and the lace collar of the 16th Century resurfaced.
Napoleon's wars of conquest spread poverty and misery across Europe, preventing thereby the development of a fashion business. Dresses were simple and luxury items had little or no use. Outside of ball dresses, which featured a low-cut neck and limited finery, the cut was higher again. Sleeves were extended down to the hands. At times, they fitted puffed upper sleeves. Skirts became stiff and tight and ultimately fell down from the top in a tube-like fashion, negating the shapely figure underneath. Instead, they were adorned with ruffles, frills and spikes.
Coats became fashionable again, usually as coat dresses.
In 1808, fur coats were admired for the first time in Paris. By the end of the century, fur was only found inside the garment. Spencer jackets and scarfs still enjoyed ample popularity.
The corset, however - indispensable in the past centuries - fell entirely out of fashion. Nevertheless, since not every woman boasted the ideal size for the fashionable dress cut, corsets were still manufactured for this unfortunate group. The cut was designed to lift the breasts and press them against each other. Now, as corsets often extend over the hips, the body can be laced narrower as a whole.
In men's fashion, we initially encounter the so-called Incroyables and Merveilleuses - the unbelievable and miraculous - which became celebrated by presenting the most untidy and dishevelled looks. Thus, utmost care was taken to ensure that tails coats fitted as poorly as possible, vests were wrongly buttoned, hair fell shaggy and wild, scarves (one wraps itself around the same time more) were inappropriately thick, and boot cuffs were sloppily dropped.
In more moderate circles, people wore simple cut tail frocks without waist break, the collar becomes taller and the lapel wider, whereas the black colour starts enjoying increasing popularity.
In parallel, gentlemen wear the frock coat or redingote.
The vest, sometimes so short that it ends just below the chest, usually presents a double-breasted closure. The length of the pantaloons, trousers, ranges from short to knee-calf length.
The bicorn is a popular headgear, both in the form of Wellington, in which the tips points towards the front and back, as well as the à l'androsmane, whose tips are aligned laterally. Gradually, the cylinder begins to gain ground, which can be further asserted by the end of the century.
   
Regency fashion in England
 
Even before the French Revolution, England found the bourgeois fashion interesting and attractive.
 
England becomes the leader in menswear. George Brummel establishes the dandy fashion, to which men like Lord Byron and Balzac adhere. For Brummel, the elegance of a garment lies in its cut and fabric quality.
Anything artificial is frowned upon, whereas muted colours in brown, dark blue and green and grey are preferred.
Dandies, who value a perfect fitting suit above all, usually end up wearing a corset.
Ties play a very important role: "La cravatte cèst l’homme“ [the tie makes the man], this quote from Balzac represents men's motto in the 1st half of the 19th Century. At least for the evening attire, ties must be donned in crisp white purity.
Elegant gentlemen change three to four times a day. Thus, within a week, at least 20 shirts, 24 handkerchiefs, 9-10 summer trousers, 30 scarves and a dozen vests and socks are used.
 
In women's fashion, the robe "à l'anglaise" becomes "fashion a la grecque". English clothing, however, remains more moderate.


Costume examples from our workshop


 

Directoire_Kleid

Period: around 1800

This ensemble is crafted based upon original cuts and is a reproduction from the Directoire, the transition period from Rococo to Empire.
The very light batiste dress is adorned with blue embroidery. The skirt's hem and sleeves are separately embroidered as well. The transparent fabric of the dress was lined with grey silk satin to achieve a slight grey tone. The dress' embroidery pattern is
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Empire_Kleid_St_Wendel_seite

Period: 1806

This suit was commissioned work for the St. Wendel museum that conducted an exhibition about the life of Duchess Luise, mother of King Albert.

Luise was a constant reader of the 'Almanach des modes' and it thus stood to reason to choose an Empire dress from this magazine as reference. Distinctive of Empire fashion are the tabbed edges of
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Empirekleid hellblau

Period: around 1810

This Empire dress made of embroidered light blue batiste was edged at décolletage with delicate French lace of the same color; as were the hem of the sleeves the hem of the skirt. The silk belt was also colored correspondingly. The pearl beaded tulle scarf is an original from the 19th century.

Price category: F
 
 

Empire-Tageskleid

Period: 1810

We crafted this Empire dress from cotton that was imprinted with an original pattern from the 19th century. The cream-red or white-red color combinations were also popular during the Empire period. The cut pattern is based on an original of the time.


The top is closed with buttons that are hidden underneath the front cover. The dress owes
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Empirekleid aus altweißer Seide mit  Mäanderborte

Period: around 1805, England

This Empire dress was crafted from an antique-white silk based on an English original. The Meander braid pattern, which has its origins in ancient times, was very popular around 1800. Accordingly the hem, the décolletage and the sleeves of this dress were edged with appropriate braid; a similar but smaller pattern was also applied to the longitudinal welds. Our customer, at the time of ordering in the late stages of pregnancy, requested an extremely adjustable dress. We therefore decided for a back lacing, which was rather uncommon during this epoch but was nonetheless found in original dresses.

Price category: D

 
 

Empire Herrenanzug

Period: 1806

This suit was made for the Living-History performances at the open-air museum Hamburg-Kiekeberg. It was mainly crafted by hand using only historical techniques; i.e. over and under fabrics are not turned over as it is common today, but are laid on top of each other and are combined with clearly visible hand stitches (compare detail image). All outer edges, hems,
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Empirekleid-bestickter Baumwolltüll

Period: around 1818, France

Based on a painting by Théodere Géricault we crafted the following Empire dress. Instead of plain fabric we chose embroidered cotton tulle, which due to its transparency was lined with batiste. A blue silk belt emphasizes the high waist. An Empire corset made of cotton is worn to accentuate the breast; its eyelets are handmade.

Price category: Dress D, Corset B
 
 

Empirekleid_seide_hellblau

Period: around 1810

This Empire dress made of ice-blue silk is edged with delicate, handcrafted silver braid at the under bust, sleeve and hem areas. It is closed with little antique glass buttons at the back. This has been commissioned work for the Cinderella ball at castle Moritzburg.

Price category: D

 
 
Empirekleid Snowhill Manor Period: around 1800

The conceptual design of the here shown Empire dress is based upon an original of the Snowshill Manor in England. It consists of embroidered silk blended fabric. The top is crossed over, the gathering at the shoulders is held together by two buttons. The hem of the sleeves is edged with the green tone of the embroidery, as is the belt.

Price category: E
 
 

Rotes Samtkleid

Period: around 1810

This simple Empire dress with train shows that one does not necessarily require the ideal figure of the early 19th century to wear such a suit (the dress is size 42). The décolletage is edged with velvet and silk organza lace. Both fabrics were colored in a warm antique-appearing red tone; the buttons are from the late 19th century.
The overall design is based upon an opus by the painter Vigée Le Brun from 1828.

Price category: D
 
 

Spencer Jäckchen

Period: around 1810 - 1825

This short spencer coat was crafted from two color-coordinated silk fabrics. Their sculptural appliqués were typical for this kind of clothing. In this case we used a festoon of leaves, which are often found on clothing and coats from this epoch. The wide puffy upper sleeves, which are actually borrowed from Renaissance fashion, are also very common features of these jackets. A similar model in pink and white can be seen at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (Museum for Arts and Crafts) in Hamburg.

Price category: E
 
 
Empire Brautkleid Come and see our pages with beautiful wedding gowns also our site with finished dresses and reticules:

www.Regencydresses.eu