Fashion Plate No. 885 from Costumes Parisiens, 1797-1831

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With the establishment of the First French Empire in 1804, fashion nearly came full circle as it approximated the finery once seen in Old Regime styles. Following decades of simplicity—even austerity—in dress, luxury returned to formal attire. It appeared in the form of lavish accessories and materials like lace, metallic braid, fine jewelry, silk fabrics, and men’s chapeau bras (literally “arm hats” intended to be carried rather than worn on the head) and swords. Abandoned by all but a few holdouts were men’s wigs, powdered hair (for both sexes), and women’s rigid shapewear: heavily boned corsets and skirt supports. Though some women at the forefront of fashion cast aside corsets entirely in pursuit of an authentic air of languid antiquity, most wore lightly boned, cropped corsets under form-fitting gowns. Body altering tight-laced corsets and dome-shaped hoops would return in the 1850s, thanks to innovative uses of steel wire.

Fashion Plate No. 885 from Costumes Parisiens
Artist Life
Accession Number
Catalogue Raisonne
Colas 736
Curator Approved

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