Thursday, August 29, 2013

Croisures a la victime - short hair in the Directoire period

Fashion plate from Wikipedia Commons
Death, destruction, fear, excitement, opportunities, change. The world is in turmoil for all and extremely dangerous for aristocrats. This is France in the late 18th century.  Robspierre's reign of terror is in full swing, the rules and laws change, then change again.  The monarchy is gone, the French Revolution changes the world.

How to survive, how to cope? The answer? Be prepared for Madam Guillotine and party like its 1794!

The Reign of Terror and the Directoire period in France is a time of fast and furious change in everything from who is important, who is dangerous to know, how you wear your clothes, what's important to survive, the fashion you wear, the music you listen to, the laws that rule your life, the way you live from day to day, all is in flux!

Jeune fille en busteVers 1794
The silks and satins of the years before are replaced by simple but expensive cottons. Archeological discoveries of Roman and Greek statues referring to democracy and republicanism are the rage and influencing fashion, architecture and furniture. To look like a Roman senator or a Grecian goddess is the height of fashion.

Your wig is old hat, but what do you do with the short hair under it? Turn it into a fashion statement my dear and wear your hair 'a la Titus', i.e. like a Roman, fashionable for both men and woman.

Fashion plate from Wikipedia Commons
With the Reign of Terror raging around them, the pro-Monarchy needed a way to 'cock a snoot' at the pro-Republicans,

Cut your hair 'a la victime', i.e. hair roughly hacked off at the back of the victim's head leaving the front long, prepared for Madam Guillotine. Thus you turn the affront into a fashion statement, start a fashion trend that becomes the Incroyables et Merveilleuses, then you all party hard at 'a la victime' balls!

The incroyable fashion for outrageously short hair and crazy fashion then travelled to the rising haute-Bourgeois. They claimed the styles previously only affected by the aristos, much to the disgust of these aristos! The bougeois stealing their thunder! How very dare they!

I have fallen under the spell of the Incroyables and Merveilleuses, they leave the tame Regency for dead, they make the rule breakers of Britain look like naughty children! Outrageous in so many things, but its the short hair and the short skirts that call to me!

I want to play with them, if only for a little while. So I have had my hair styled 'a la Titus' by my fabulous hairdresser and am about to create some Mervilleuse gowns for my re-enacting wardrobe. Here's what the clever hair cutter at Kropt Hair created for me today, I am chuffed! Perfect for our Regency Ball on the 28th September, 2013, you can book for it here on Eventbrite.

 Viva la France!


I'm The Tailor's Apprentice and I have created The Miss Page Vintage Pattern Collection. 1940s WWII dress making patterns for the 21st century woman. Patterns created by me from my extant 1940s gowns. All my patterns are available on Etsy and my website where you'll find out more about me as well. This year I am publishing an 1820s gown wardrobe pattern.


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