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Robe a la Française (open gown with visible petticoat)

circa 1745-1750

Unknown English Maker (, - present)

4/5/11: Within aristocratic circles in Europe and the American colonies, a fashionable silhouette in the second half of the 18th century included a dress supported with panniers, or "side buckets" as they were often called, to produce the desired width of the dress. Towering hairstyles decorated with exotic plumes, laces, ribbons and jewels were popular and gave prominence to the overall silhouette of the wearer.

Earlier text: In the eighteenth century, dress often symbolized one's wealth and station in life with elements of clothing and adornment providing vital expressions of how individuals wished to see themselves. The inherent richness of the costume was frequently based in the fabric itself which was often brocaded with metal threads and elaborate floral designs. Additionally, the embellishment of clothes with embroidery, rich laces and trims, ribbons, artificial flowers and jewels all contributed to the concept of dress used for class distinction.

The Robe à l' Française style first appeared in France in the 1720s and had been imported into Britain by the 1730s. Its popularity in the American colonies, and indeed throughout the western world, was soon to follow. The style is marked by the appearance of deep-pleats that fall from the back neckline to the hem. The petticoat, or underskirt, might or might not match the gown.

Place object was created: Great Britain

silk brocade, metallic thread, satin, lace

Museum Purchase: Auxiliary Costume Fund 2000.113.1A-C

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