Sep 6, 2009

Robe a l'Anglais (English Dress)

We are all blessed and enriched by the contribution that TatianaDokuchic Varrial has made to our virtual world with her stunning SIM project in SL. This SLURL is a good a place as any to begin a long and rewarding wander through her 15 - yes fifteen! - SIM estate project. I can use adjectives like scrumptious, delectable, and sumptious to describe Tatiana's creation - but they're not sufficient.

Tatiana's SIM, Languadoc Coeur, is where I decided to begin this post about a longtime passion on mine - 18th century fabric and dress.

For this post I chose to wear a Robe l'Anglaise created by Sevader Wheels who makes 18th century costume at the Tiny Boudoir. I think that Sevader was the third SL designer to make this type of dress that has now a following.

"Robe a l'Anglaise" literally means the Enlgish Dress. It does not have, nor does it demand, the wide panniers (baskets) associated with the Robe a la Francaise to produce a wide narrow skirt silhouette like with all the delectable court gowns you saw in the movie Marie Antoinette with Kirsten Dunst. This skirt relies on fabric petticoats for fullness, and a calico floral print for the overskirt and bodice.

PLEASE NOTE LADIES that this was the everyday dress - not court dress - ever been to to the mall in a silk embroidered ballgown?

The usual fashion of the 1750-1780 was a low-necked gown, worn over a petticoat. If the gown's bodice was open in front, the opening was filled in with a decorative stomacher, pinned to the gown over the laces or to the stays beneath.  Tight elbow-length sleeves were trimmed with frills or ruffles, and separate under-ruffles called engageantes of lace or fine linen were tacked to the smock or chemise sleeves. The neckline was trimmed with a fabric or (neck)lace ruffle, or a neckerchief called a fichu could be tucked into the low neckline.

The robe a l'anglaise featured back pleats sewn in place to fit closely to the body, and then it's line would be released into the skirt which would be draped in various ways. This lose gown developed from the mantua in the late 17th century, a loose fitting gown that we would have worn in the home, socially, or on our wedding day perhaps but - throughout the period - and especially when pregnant.

Here's a wonderful silk robe a l'anglaise that can be found at the Met Museum of Art.

As frivolous fashion moved on in the 18th century the robe a l'anglaise was often enhanced with padding for the breasts, the derriere, and tummy - it's pre-boob job and Jo Lo enhancement - hmmm, but I've yet to see a modern fashion for looking pregnant - even though it's beautiful to be full.

In the Duchess movie with Keira Knightly playing Georgina the Duchess of Devonshire, they left out the fact that Georgina started the craze for a faux tummy on the robe a l'anglaise to give the appearance of pregancy.

FYI - her husband was a total cheating b*****d. Perhaps this was her way of getting back on him - all society knew her husband was always away from her bed - so...if she was with child, then who had cuckolded him?...of course there are very many ways of getting back on men who cheat - without breaking any laws - and perhaps my next post will be a long list of those - but this approach was elegant and smart - totally :-) ...and being elegant totally was 18th century style.

Problem that I have with this post is that the dessus (worn on top) is plain to see, but there is no dessous (worn below) - like none at all! Sevader Wheels comes the nearest of all the 18th century gowns designers in terms of providing undergarments, and I assure you, I think I own ALL of them :-) What we really missing are the chemises, pants, stays, busks, stomachers, stockings, and garters. Am I being fussy? I hope so :-)

SL doesn't provide designers with enough basic clothing options to attach all of this to an avatar and for it still to work. Designers can't be bothered to make 18th century lingerie as its about cover not about exposure and a "sexy" look. It's not like SL lacks anyone to make lingerie!..but it is a luxury to demand underpinnings that can only been appreciated when we undress. Pity.



Armide said...

Sevader Wheels, the designer of Tiny Boudoir, was actually the first to create rococo dresses in Sl, followed by Nonna Hedges and Celebrian Ceawlin (who is also the creator of the first baroque dress -17TH century- of our community).
The other designers followed them.

By the way. It is "robe à l'anglaise", not "robe a l'anglais" which means nothing in french, and "robe à l'anglaise" doesn't mean litterally "the english dress".
I wonder how you can tell that to people, seeing that obviously your french isn't correct.
It means "dress in the english style" or "english styled dress"

Lessa said...

Thank you, Gaia, for a great post that highlights historic fashion and brings Lanquedoc Coeur sims to wider attention. As a fluent speaker of French, I take no offense at all to your not making a perfectly literal translation of "robe a l'anglaise" (and sorry, I'm not taking the time to figure out how to do French characters in a comment). I love learning about Baroque and Rococo fashion in both Real and Second Life.

Gaia Laval said...

Dear Armide:

1. Sevader Wheels was not the 1st in SL to make rococo dress - because she made her 1st for ME as a comission project becuase I not like what was on offer elsewhere - and then she continued as she is very talented - PLEASE ASK HER YOURSELF :-)

2. Sorry if my French is bad - but when I get to read your 1st post in Russian where you need to use a Estonian phrase from 200 years ago, only I will start to be ashamed of my 4th langauge skills :-(

Anonymous said...

this is all SL courts are about: VANITY, GOSSIP, CONFLICTS; SUPER EGOS, all very boring.

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