Often to be seen in the
works of the great painter Antoine Watteau, the 'robe à la française' was the
hallmark of the elegant woman during the reign of Louis XV. Its outstanding
characteristic was its back, whose box pleats fell loose to the floor, with a
slight train. It was worn over a petticoat most often made of the same
material. The close-fitting bodice was closed by compères, pieces of fabric
attached to each side of the opening and buttoned together. The 'pagoda'
sleeves stopped at the elbows and were ornamented with two scalloped flounces.
Beneath the dress was a whalebone corset which turned the torso into an
inverted triangle, while the hips were broadened with panniers or side hoops
made of reed or metal.
This robe à la française is a pefect illustration of the Rococo aesthetic, which saw beauty as necessarily dynamic: the undulation of the flowers on the fabric and the silk chenille appliqués on the bodice were harmoniously matched by the swaying of the panniers as the wearer moved about.
Notice's author : Pascale Gorguet-Ballesteros