Sunday, 27 April 2014

Journal Journey - March 1811

March 1811

In March the BNF only holds issues 13, 15 & 17. Oddly enough, Chateaubriands voyage description of the travel to Jerusalem via Greece occupies large parts, and is published in four parts throughout the month. While very interesting in itself (especially if you compare it to the changes the region experienced in the past 200 years), it is a topic what could fill books, and I am a tad too lazy to translate it (I believe there's a contemporary translation anyway), the one bit about the fact that it's published in the Journal des Dames and the Modes:
Can you imagine today's Elle or Vogue publishing a 4-part long travel report, occupying about 1/4 to 1/3 per issue? Honestly, I can't. But still, M. LeMésangère thought this to be of interest among his readers.

Anyway, off to have some fun in March :-) April will follow shortly.

Issue No 13, March 5, 1811
Paris, ce 4 Mars, 1811


Gravure 1127

Capote de Pluche de Soie. Par-dessus Fourrée en hermine.

Capote (soft hat) of silk-plush. Overcoat lined in ermine (crickey! Poor critters, but also - what an expense!!!)


We spoke about the simplification of capotes without them loosing their size and shape, that plumes were less used now. We spoke about roses, violets, lilac, ranunculi. Today we can say, that lilac is the most often seen flower. What do you think of a bunch of pink roses on a black hat? Do you consider this as a hiccup in a milliner's taste, or do you blame the fantastic taste of the customer. Get used to it - it's fashion. Another trend what is much more surprising, are the chignon wigs. As the titus cut doesn't grow long fast enough, M Tellier, who already supplied us with wigs à l'enfant, curly wigs, presented our ladies of a more advanced aged, with the solution to have beautiful hair. At the lingères (whitework) two articles are in great favour: big camisoles (shirt, worn underneath dresses) and bonnets with long lappets. These lappets are meant to form a big cocade at the side. The decoration of the camisoles are a large pélèrine, and rised embroidery.

(What makes me now wonder - these "over-chemisettes" of dresses - if they would be called camisoles too…?)


All boxes have been taken for the opening of Mahomet II the new long announced and awaited 5-act tragedy at the Théatre-Français. Talma and the best tragic actors perform in this work, we owe to the elegant and lively author to whom we also owe Omazis or Joseph in Egypt.

(Comment: We've heard about this one coming on stage back in February, amongst other new plays coming up)

This Tivoli, what is so lively during the carnival, so pittoresque and of a crazy playfulness, this Tivoli I wanted to revisit in lent. Instead of little shepherdesses and Johns, I've encountered young men wearing smart coats and young ladies wearing canezou (similar to spencer), in short - the same we see in town, yet Tivoli wasn't deserted.


A couple of days ago, I overheard a gentleman, possibly a husband utter "Damned be mythology": We are Titans of a different kind, while we don't want to usurp the Gods of Olympus, we just aspire to rival them, we pretend to be alike them.
My wife wears a Junoesque tiara, a tunique in the style of Venus and the girdle of the Graces. Her complexion rivals Hébé, her dance Terpsichore's;
My wigmaker speaks only about Titus, Caracalla, Antinous, of Apoll.
At my clockmaker's one sees nothing but pendules (small very ornated clocks) sporting the god Mars, Minerva in her disguise as Mentor, the nine Muses, the hunting Diana etc. It goes from my architect, who had all the friezes in our apartments following Ovid's Metamorphose, down to my wife's shoemaker who makes her "Sandals à la Psyche".
But, my dear gentlemen readers - as all these items refer back to a time of legends, lets not forget that we are but poor Heres, and hope that those who re-introduce the dress and luxury of the Graces and Apoll won't forget to give us Croesus' purse to pay for all these fopperies.
(For a fashionable contemporary, the mentioning of all these antique celebrities would immediately evoke in their mind the "look" they'd expect them to sport. Diane à la chasse - Diana/Artemis hunting would flash up in front of their inner eye. They'd also know some of the legends surrounding them.

Similar as if today you'd read about "Audrey Hepburn Look" - you'd automatically picture something you've once seen. As my notes are very extensive on this subject, I'd like to invite you over to read the full post on this wee paragraph :-) )

My grandmother once told me a story. Once upon a time there was a caterer who, to attract chaps, sold his roasted chickens, turkeys, partridges and feasants at about 2 or 3 sous. But he garnished all his dishes with a special sauce, costing 12 francs; that's where the proverb "the sauce costs more than the fish" apparently comes from.

Our fashion dealers aim to imitate this caterer of my gran's story: They sell beautiful fabric for dresses at very reasonable prices; but for the trimming of a dress, one needs a ribbon border**, a garniture of blonde (silk lace), a falbalas of flowers, a belt in gold or silk, a lace chemisette ruff etc.

Dad or husband, who pay for the shopping are attracted by the low prices, but when faced with the bill for lace, silk lace, ribbons, flowers - they remember my gran's caterer, and cry under the pain of their purse: "It's a pity that the sauce costs more than the fish!"

*the author uses the word "chalan" - a wonderful oldfashioned word to describe a slightly ruffian chap
** ribbon - usually silk ribbon. Some cities became very rich by the production of silk ribbon, and still are, on the inheritance of it. (e.g. Basel: Made a fortune in the 18th century by the production of silk ribbon, and the modern chemical & pharma-industry what makes billions (Novartis, Roche etc) has it's roots in the chemical dyes in the beginning of the 19th century for the silk ribbon production.

You see - the issue of "I've got the fabric from my stash, but the decoration is ruining me" is a couple of centuries old ;-) …

Attached we also have a poëm by Mme de Staël.

(Comment: You may have come across her name because she was famous. Not for beauty, and no, not for virtue neither - that was all her friends Juliette Recamier (who was also an intellectual, yet is remembered for being beautifully draped on a recamière) - but for being highly intelligent, for being an accomplished writer and trouble maker. She run a salon for ages, and coming from a wealthy background she never had to worry about money or pleasing someone. Some may say, she better had tried, as Napoleon forced her into exile, and other contemporaries said "what a man she would have made". I honestly believe that she would have outdone Talleyrand even. This makes it even more fascinating to find a poem of hers in a journal what enjoyed N.B. patronage.)


A votre âge souvent on ignore. Sophie,
D'un lien fortuné la douceur infinie;
Mais un jour vous saurez quel tourment est le coeur
Quand un crai sentiment n'en fait pas le bonheur.
Lorsque sur cette terre on se sent délaissée,
Qu'on n'est d'aucun mortel la première pensée,
Lorsque l'on peut souffrir, sans que sur ses malheurs
Acun mortel jamais ne répande de pleurs,
On se désintéresse à la fin de soi-même;
On cesse de s'aimer si quelqu'un ne nous aime,
Et d'insipides jours, l'un sur l'autre entassés,
S'écoulent lentement, et sont vîte effacés.

Ne pensez pas non plus qu'il suffise, Sophie,
De songer au bonheur à la fin de sa vie;
Celui qu'on goûte alors du passé doit venir;
Ceux qui nous ont aimés peuvent seuls nous chérir.
C'est par le don heureux des jours de la jeunesse
Qu'on mérite l'amour jusque dans la vieillesse.
Le coeur qui fut à nous vit de ses souvenirs
Et les prend quelquefois pour de nouveau plaisirs.

Par Mme de Staël

No 14 is not preserved at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, but the Gravure 1128 is filed with No 13

Velvet Toque, and a Redingote of Levantine (heavy (silk) twill) fabric.
Toque de Velours. Redingote de Lévantine.

Issue No 15, March 15, 1811 

Number 15 is mostly occupied by theatre reviews and a journey description to Jerusalem. While most interesting, not the main aim of this post, I concentrate on the frivolous world of fashion

GRAVURES 1129 & 1130

Toque of Satin and Crêpe, Dress of Mérino Wool 

Turban of embroidered muslin

Gravure 1131 does not belong to issue 15, but 16, what is not kept by BNF - therefore just the description (sad, as it's an intriguing one)

Velvet hat, shawl with turkish flower sprigs Chapeau de Velours,


These four days our walks encountered crowds of people. White dresses with spencers are dominating, and on nearly all capotes we see spring flowers, lilac, double violets, hyacinths, hawthorn, mountain cowslips. The bottom of the dresses sport the same as last year, falbalas à la Ninon.


ISSUE No 17, 25 March 1811
Paris, ce 24 Mars 1811

Covered by a most modest hat of grey taffeta, the dress the same, the shoes the same, our most elegant ladies appear to have renounced Satan's pomp and luxury - if they are not covered by ash in these days of penitence (it's post Carnival, so in lent…) they have at least adopted the dress of the same colour.
And there are still voices complaining that the good style of behaviour disappeared in this century.
La Belle au bois dormant (Sleeping Beauty) has woken, for a few days at least, the public taste for the Vaudeville, but we recommend to the directors of the Vaudeville not to sleep on such a passing success, once the cheering of the parquet seats cools off, because the "Belle au bois dormant" lacks spirit, jolliness or interest, but I don't know what has saved the piece from instantaneous death (it's title, perhaps?). At least in three deadly acts we can at last distinguish three couplets:

Le Chevalier, le Troubadour,
A l'honneur soumettent leurs ames;
Et ce n'est pas toujours l'Amour
Qui nous fait obliger les Dames.
Jeunes, l'on doit les protéger;
Belles, leur offrir son hommage;
Du moindre outrage les venger,
Et les respecter à tout âge.

De Renaud, imitant le sort,
Loin des camps un guerrier s'endort;
Mais qu'on répète à son oreille,
Ces mots sur sa bannière écrits;
Défends ta Dame et ton pays,
Voilà ce qui le réveille.

De s'marier Lubin fait l'effort;
Près d'sa vieille femme il s'endort;
Le lendemain, fraîche et vermeille,
A ses regards s'offre Babet;
Il ouvre de grands yeux, le benèt,
Et v'la que l'drôle se réveille.

One awaits eagerly the first act, becomes bored in the second, yawns at the third, what might explain what prevented a hail of catcalls.
I've seen two balls à la mi-carême*: the one at the Opera, very high numbers of visitors, and the one at Tivoli, very decent, and very enjoyable.
(Mi-carême: Carnival balls outside the period of carnival)

The repetitions of all the well known old or new plays have been put of by pieces fitting the current circumstances. At the Vaudeville, they give "La Nouvelle télégraphique" (the Telegraphed News), at the Théâtre des Variétés "l'Heureuse Nouvelle" (The good news), The Opéra Comique gives us "Le Berceau" (the cradle) and promises us with "La fête au village ou l'heureux militaire" (The village feast or the happy soldier). The Comédie Française is preparing a hommage of their own and all the street theatres have already paid their tribute.

The Imperial Music Academy performs without break "Le Berceau d'Achille ou le Triomphe de Mars" (Achillas cradle or Mars' triumph")

The crowds queue to see these new performances, and acclaims them highly. The birth of the King of Rome* has sparked a profound liveliness and lightness, and the Parisians celebrate with such candour, as to lengthen this happy day.


(*When Napoleon's son and heir was born on March 20, the theatres all adapted their program to reflect the happy occasion.)


Wig by Tellier (see him mentioned in issue 13). Velvet Canezou.


A pink spencer over a white dress, or an overcoat of scarlet mérinos what shows the dresses hem; a pink capote, or jonquille (narcissus-yellow) or serin (livelier yellow), or striped with lilas (light purple), or simply white, decorated with blonde lace (silk lace) - that's what the current female dress ought to look like.

Regarding the form of the spencer or canézou, nothing new: Fringes for the decoration, hugs the neck and is closed by buttons in the back. But don't think a merino spencer has only fringes for it's decoration, or that the bottom of a perkale dress (perkale = firmer cotton) or muslin you'd see anything else than cut out embroidery, filled ruffles or ruffles à la Ninon.

Two articles remain to be mentioned especially: Large veils falling down to the knees, and brodequins (small laced boots) what match the capote.

If we pass to the gentlemen's dress, we see young men sporting waistcoats made of shawls, and white-in-white striped cravates, breeches of off-white silk or nut-colour or water-green - the stockings in the same colour. The coat's colour either "Spanish tobacco" or bright green, and the hats with a flat brim and very small.

If you'd like to see what's going on elsewhere (the others are already long in April, I am behind schedule)

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

February 1811 - Journal des Dames et des Modes No 9

February 15, 1811


Picture by C. Barreto - Barreto-Lancaster Collection //

Gravure 1123
Coeffure en Cheveux, ornées de Bandelettes en Argent. Robe de Tulle 
Updo with own hair, decorated with silver bands. Tulle-gown.

Picture by C. Barreto - Barreto-Lancaster Collection //

Gravure 1122
Coeffure Egyptienne, ornée de fleurs et de fruits Argent, Velours et Or
Egyptian Updo, decorated with flowers and fruit in Silver, Velvet and Gold
Due to space limitation the explanation to No 1122 is moved to the next issues.


By today Milliners use flowers made from velbet, as do the hairdressers, especially red velvet; The rosa-canina strings so often seen on white capote are made in this way, the big bow is not the Must anymore. We can also ascertain that feathers are less often sported. Someone asked about the blue pearls (mentioned earlier this year), these are made from lapis (lapislazuli, that is). Lapis, being expensive already quickly becomes rare . Men used six or seven plates in one watch-chain; Turquoise, mosaïc and antique heads (I interpret this as cameos) are fashionable for the same use.

PARIS, ce 14 Février 1811

Paris awaits impatiently the arrival of several important people. Sophocles needs to show himself at the Opéra, Mohammed II will appear at the Français (we can assume "the Comédie Français", Sleeping Beauty might encounter the same succes at Vaudeville as Fanchon did before her; A Poet and a Musician will make the good days for the Opéra Variétés, Griseldis will give a concert at the Odéon, and the Baron of Felsheim is going to launch this carnival at the l'Ambigu-Comique, to the great pleasure of the enlightened fans of the Boulevard.


Clashing colours, as red, scarlet, poppy-red, amaranth (sort of pinkish-red) what were all the rage last winter, the nec plus ultra in good taste in ladies dress are now completely banned, and are not used anymore unless to decorate a hat or a white dress. Soft shades, Rosy pink, white, Serin (Yellow), and blue took over today's palette of choice: A white hat, crowned with six blue plumes, a dress idem embroidered with cornflowers (or in cornflower-colour), decorated with soft blue ribbons, idem for the shoes; That's the look of today: One is tempted to explain, that our ladies are the living image of candour and fidelity, but a moralist poet said already a long time ago: Nimium ne crede colori.

Most of our subscribers will ask us now: "Why Latin, what does this line say?" We would reply that whenever sadly we have to say something what might hurt the beautiful gender, we will express this statement in a language no-one understands.

(This last phrase might be a little notch back to an earlier edition, where a writer propagated very strongly that ladies ought to learn Latin - sadly only the first part of the text is preserved at the BNF, that's why I didn't include it in an earlier post. Many of Centyeux notes have a nasty twist at the end, what might or might not turn the whole composition into reverse gear. Therefore I couldn't fathom whether he approves or disapproves of ladies studying the antique world.)

One doesn't give big gala-dress balls anymore, but nevermind, even masqued balls big gala is the must. The domino worn by a young man is nothing else than some sort of silk redingote where he takes great care to close it but carelessly, or if needed loosens the fastening cords to show off the elegance of his habit.

For ladies, the domino is the most boring disguise, black taffeta is forbidden, required is white satin, or hortensia Levantine (Hortensia = a bright pink, Levantine, the heavy twill fabric, mostly silk, but can also be silk/wool), in the way of a hooded coat, the simple domino taking on the air of the most elegant dress, with lace decorations (falbalas) like a dress, but contrary to the most beautiful dresses can only be worn once. Character disguises offer a wider resource for creativity, more varied and more flattering for a beautiful woman; and they are also the ones chosen more often. Cydalise wears the costume of the Queen of Persépolis, Florine appears in the attire of a Swiss shepherdess, yet silk replaces coarse wool*, wooden clogs are replaced with leather escarpins, the cross à la Jeanette is made from fine pearls, and the flowers ornamenting her head from diamonds.

This lady is dressing as a goddess, this one as a fay, Such are the most fashionable balls, offering the double advantage of being interesting like masqued balls, but are glittering occasions like glamourous gala. These occasions are magical, where men are enchanted, but ladies are the enchantresses.

(*bure = a coarse reddish wool. I'd like to know where this fits with Swiss peasants, as artists portraying them as Koenig, Lory père & fils and Toepffer mention the fabrics, and don't mention bure as the main fabric ;-) )


Everyone wants to be the talk of town or talk about himself

[…] I appear to applaud when actually I disapprove deeply. I cry "Merveille" - (Wonderful, miracle) in the sight of bizarre fashion - no doubt caused by simply being baffled.


The full page is much much longer, and I plan to translate it in detail in a separate article. Last Sunday I have had an interesting conversation with a dear friend, who read, that both, Le Rôdeur and Le Centyeux are in fact the same writer, both of them being the editor, De La Mésangère. I love this idea, and I hope I'll find more about his activities.


Sunday, 16 February 2014

February 1811 - Journal des Dames et des Modes No. 8

I hope the curious readership will apologise me teasing you with posting only one issues out of February's five - but there is so much fun and details in these five issues, I think it's a pity if they are eclipsed by the mass of them. (The other reason is: I am currently moving houses, and I need to steal little bits of time out of the big project of moving to blog, it's not fair on my husband if I take an evening off and he troups on, isn't it?)

Some of the snippets this month(especially the very -3 pages- long ones will be posted as separate posts, as they deserve much more attention than that.

In this issue we hear about fashionable materials, as mother of pearl, the still strong going Capotes, a hefty reply of a corset manufacturer on the mocking article in January, and the plans of opening a shopping centre



February 1811 No 8 (February 10, 1811)

Gravure 1121
Picture by C. Barreto - Barreto-Lancaster Private Collection

1. Velvet Hats and Capotes (Capotes are the soft round hats, without the firm crown (compare on the left side the firm crowned hats, and then look to the three topmost hats in the middle row. Those are Capotes)
2. Capotes de Satin et Pluche (remember, last post, there was a hint that milliners would use pluche for piping as a current trend)
3. Capote de Lévantine (Lévantine - the heavy twill, see January 3&4)
4. Capote and Hat in Satin
5. Decorated Satin Toque


The capotes are still quite big, and their decoration habitually consists of a grand fabric bow; yet this bow moved from the left side to the front of the capote. There were but a few green capotes last week, their numbers enlarged considerably by now. Some of these capotes wear a string of white roses, but for white capotes red roses are still the choice. Red flowers are fashionable; milliners don't only apply them to white capotes, but also onto hats of the same colour, and it's with red flowers mixed with white flowers or only red flowers with what Coëffure en cheveux (up-do without a hat added, just hair (and some hairpieces)) is worn when wearing a white dress. We spoke about assorted pearls; yet coral too goes well with white: blue dresses always require blue pearls (in this case: Lapislazuli. Their merit was discussed in earlier issues, and as they are outside this project's frame, I might or might not transcript/translate that passage. Currently I tend more towards "I might" - so bear with me)

Editorial Note

Ce 9 Février 1811 - This February 9, 1811
Our elders wrote on schoolpaper (thin, cheap paper, with little fabric-fiber content) with goose-quills, and their style couldn't be other than their material: we find it quite simple, all natural and sufficient for common readers. Today, one uses Vélin*paper and a raven's plume, we use a shimmering powder (to soak up ink, just as sand would do), and a small folding knife with a handle made of nacre (mother of pearl) - in short, everything needed to write wonderful things.

Nacre! A couple of years back, we would only see some jetons, small notepads and knife-handles made from it. But now, we have luxury items such as sword handles, fob-seals, tabatières (snuff-boxes), candlestick-holders and spoons, all in nacre. But all the while - where does this material originate? From rare and difficult to work sea-shells. Their silver colour, iridescence and opalescence should rectify any use for jewellry as much as for household items.

(*Vélin historically was parchment made from an unborn calves/lambs hide, very fine, with no grain - and this luxury paper imitates this smoothness, with nearly no grain, little blotching, very white, and an all fabric fiber content - cotton or linen. The French production started in 1780 by François-Ambroise Didot and the paper-maker Johannot d'Annonay; it was invented in 1750 in England, by John Baskerville)
We already saw visiting cards with a satin finish, with the center-piece embossed with silver or gold - but have you ever seen this marriage invitation? In the upper part we see a lover with his lady, united by Hymen, at the bottom representation of time, what the lovers hold with guirlandes, these two motives are joined by palm trees (the antique sign of victory), to form a unity. The middle part is kept free for the invitation itself.

(**or Hymen or Hymnaeus, a son of Venus & Bacchus (Roman mythologie) or Aphrodite and Dionysos (if you are more into Greek) - or some of the muses and Apollon - but anyway -he is the god of marriage, inspiring feast and song. You find him called at by Cassandra in Euripides "The Trojan Women" and many more works, up to modern age Shakespeare. This is again to illustrate that the editors of the Journal des Dames et des Modes expected their readers to be fashionably up to date with Roman & Greek Mythology)

Rumour has it, that a speculator is about to open an entirely new house in Paris: 
A place to unite all the items belonging to fine dress; this wakes our attention.

Cravates and canezous (Canezou looks similar to a spencer in the modern eye, but appears to be more frilly, feminine than the spencer, what imitates male fashion and construction), chemisettes and corsets, habits and dresses fit for town, balls, to hunt - these all will occupy the East-side porticus. Boots (high boots) and brodequins (a closed shoe, often with buckle or lace closing on the foot), escarpins (fine shoes, for the elegant man for town or for a ball) and chamber-slippers, bonnets, hats, plumes, gloves, braces et& are sorted at the Setting side (= setting sun = West side of the building); Amber, coral, pearls and diamonds sparkle in the South (the wording used here is "the Midi - Méridian, but also a word for the South of France), in the North appear wigs, perfumes, teeth, artificial eyes, rouge and artificial calves (I guess socks with padding), and thousand other articles of an urgent necessity.

On top of these rich warehouses rules a long suite of small apartments, each consisting of a salon, a bathroom and a boudoir. Valets and chamber-maid, bathers (people helping to bath, as some sort of specialised valet or ladies maid), hair-dressers, dentists, painters and oculists are at your disposal day and night in rooms reserved for them.
Behind the paneling (= backstage - no one would know) a workroom with one-hundred artist of the latest generation generating everything imaginable by the minute.

Our capitalist aims to especially construct a large building in this area for this project. A high end restaurant and a pharmacist will be adjoined, one for the gentlemen who need to dine, and one for the ladies who will be exhausted after all (the shopping experience)

A garden, or rather a park will be planted in the most wonderful way. Flat mirrors, convex and concave ones will reflect infinitely the groups of acolytes who will squeeze themselves into this temple of fashion.
The main entrance to this fairytale palace will represent everything we recognise as elegant and picturesque. The marbles will ring by the sound of the important carriages, the galleries are reserved for shoppers of more modest means, to keep secrets of both the unfortunates, who fear the eye of marital stinginess; as well for young people of good family, who don't want end up to inconvenience their creditors.


What did you dare to say, Sir, in your publication of January 20? Can you imagine the rumours now spreading among our beauties after your article on corset! How can the oracle of fashion deceive it's true believers in such a way? In this moment, I believe error was your guide. Daughter of capriciousness and sister of fantasy, this goddess must have guided you. 

No, Sir, my corsets do not wrap ladies in the way of an Egyptian mummy. Nothing of this happens, if I'd use, as you put it, boning and busks.

Our ladies have too much taste, too fine a tact and too good an eye to not being able to distinguish between what enhances their grace, maintains and draws their forms and the ridicule. They use by a grand advantage my corsets à la Ninon, the en X, and other models of my invention, what I advance myself daily to offer them. I'd like especially to mention the Girdles à la Cléopatra for ladies of a rounder figure, pregnancy supports with a marvellous effect for expecting ladies et& et&. - all items with recommendation of the capitals first and foremost physicians.

I apologise, Sir, that I permitted myself to exaggerate in such detail on a topic what concerns me especially, but it is of much interest to the beautiful sex too.
I have the honour to be, et&
BRETEL, certified manufacturer of corsets, Rue des Filles-Saint-Thomas, No. 9, Paris

Miss Bertout et Cie, situated in the Faubourg Poissonière No. 7, on the left side entering from the boulevard, has received a new delivery of wool-cashmere, and other fine things, such as embroidery in gold and silver, laces, tulle, crêpe, and they have plenty of them.

If you'd like to see what's going on elsewhere:

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Velvet - com'era dov'era a Venezia

Not a real post, and as it's in Italian this might a bit overwhelming, but the technique how Velvet is woven on a 18th century loom is shown.
The weaver explains that she inserts fine iron rods (about 4), and then cuts them out again with a tool similar to a razor-blade with handle, to open the velvet "standing" threads. This happens nearly at the end of the video. It is difficult to have access to Bevilacqua's factories, but if you're once in Venice, and they offer a day of "open manufactury" - pay them a visit. It is very impressive, not just by the beauty of the fabric, but also to see and hear the noise, the cramped working conditions (still today) - and the value of these fabrics back then explains itself in a much more evident and likely way.

P.S.: If you ask yourself "What does the title say in plain language" and why I chose to use it:
"Com'era dov'era" is a modern Venetian bonmot, what translates roughly into "As it was, so (it shall be) again" - and was used by Venetian politicians to propagate the rebuilding of the Campanile di San Marco back in 1903 (it collapsed in 1902, what you see today is the rebuilt version what was inaugurated in 1912) and again in 1996 after the devastating fire at the Teatro la Fenice.
As Velvet and its production give me the immediate mind-picture of Venezia, so I chose it as the title of this post. And yes, I am longing to travel there, and it's again not on this year :-(

I've found yet another video, made for the Shanghai exhibition, where you can see a bit more of the Bevilacqua manufacturing premises:

Monday, 27 January 2014

Journal des Dames et des Modes, Janvier 1811 - No 5 & 6

Issue No 5, published January 25, 1811


Gravure 1118

Toque fourrée, Redingote Garnie en Chefs de Cachemire

Filled Toque, Redingote (woollen dress) decorated with ribbons of Cashmere. Have a look at her waistline - again the fashionable fringes we've heard about earlier this month.


Redingotes of black velvet, blue or purple wool, poppy-coloured merinos, with fringes or decorated with marten, pelisses of satin with large decoration of northern fur (Imported expensive fur), douillettes, 6/4 shawls with bunches (We can assume, flower bunch pattern, they start to become fashionable now) and fur capes are currently in fashion; but we don't forget the spencers, what show themselves little by little on the Terrasse des Feuillants (that's a part of the Tuileries Gardens If you have ever visited, it's the part with the trees and the restaurant) and the muffs what are much rarer than by the end of last winter.

Current models have no belly (deep pouch), as former ones; they have the same size overall, and are not larger in the middle than at the ends, the fur is neither long nor short shorn, and as of yet they are not mismatched. The capes, besides their brown detachable border-trim, sport still their trim of iridescent feathers. Many shoemakers offer lined shoes, but they are not usually worn: fur-lined brodequins (laced boots) are not more common.

Milliners employ fur only in piping, and there it's only a fur imitation, a mere silk plush. (Check Sabine (link)'s entry for January with the trend for Silk plush as fake fur in the Journal des Luxus und der Moden!)

Big capotes are still the trendy item, and have recently developed a grand fabric knot on the side, with a bunch of flowers and a spray of plumes (feathers)


Other snippets

Silk and velvet have returned to be fashionable for habits for the grand costume. Tailors have already left heavier material as cotton or wool behind, and one would think the most distinguished ones might sully their scissors if they cut into anything else than silk, gold, silver or spangled cloth. 

The wigmakers dream up their own vision of pommade, powder, hairpieces, pigeon wings. Next to them the shoemakers think about wooden heels and shoes with big buckles.
Changing fashion, bagatelle, nonsense! No-one dies, and everyone thrives!

Of Spencers and Redingotes

The two halves of humanity imitate, foppishly monkey see monkey copy, they turn in circles of taste and ideas, of the same crazes; and that's only natural: The odd part in this observation is that they rarely arrive at the same spot together.
As an example, we are sporting spencers and the ladies were in redingote; we regain the redingote, and the ladies want nothing else than spencers. 

Last year, a dandy choose to wear a puce coloured spencer on top of a green habit: The more the colours clashed, the more striking the effect was considered. A spencer was conceived to be sufficient to protect torso and arms from cold, while not being cumbersome.
Today these reasons are not heard anymore. Spencers have completely fallen out of favour, and their use limits itself to small people, who's feeble imagination is curbed by their need to economise. Only redingotes paint a decent picture, only they are worn on top a fresh habit (suit), and last but not least, they conserve the feeling what should always be a young dashing man's appearance. 

Last year, a beauty told her husband: as soon as it only drizzles a little, the streets become terrible. Walk out on foot, equals a lost dress, but with a wool redingote, you are able to walk about all day long; when coming home a little time and a little brushing, you're as presentable now as when leaving. These advantages jumps to reason, and the husband would better not think to counter such arguments; therefor the tailor (le tailleur) is called in, the measures taken, and Madame will have her redingote.

Today it's a different tune altogether. A woollen redingote! God, is this a heavy garment! It oppresses me, once it's drenched with rain, it never dries. It shrinks, it singes when ironed, it gets dirty. It has all possible inconveniences imaginable! A redingote! Oh heavens! Everyone has it, and not one wants it any more. How could a woman possibly fitted out like that? When she has black laced boots, a beaver hat, some might mistake her for a man. This fashion does not suit a real woman at all. My friend, my darling, I respect myself too much, I respect you too much to keep up an appearance what must displease you. There's something much better fitting to our sex, and you yourself pressed me to adopt it. Look, look at my cousin, how she's graceful. What a figure! A white and light dress, a velvet spencer with a fraise (Chemisette-Ruffs are called "Fraise" - it's also the word for strawberry. In this case it's a white ruff, not a red delicious summer fruit), a toque heightened with a plume - that's how one should dress! And on the morrow, the seamstress (Couturière - note the difference: For the redingote the tailleur/Tailor was summoned) and the milliner have both gained an article with a shocking bill to be paid by the husband.

(The signature "Rôdeur" roughly translates as "vagabond". Clearly someone who would like his writing to be assimilated with someone who sees a lot, says what he thinks and gives not a second thought, as he'd be gone the day after… We will read more of his delicious epistles in later issues)

A man who unites in himself some goodwill as well as a very distinguished taste sent us the following note to share: The wigs by M Lambert, wigmaker/coiffeur at Rue de la Monnoie 30, adapt the head's shape to perfection, and as precisely defining the faces shape are undistinguishable from real hair (=ones own grown hair, not bought hair), his wigs don't slide off and are light yet solid.

No 6, published January 31, 1811


Plate 1119

Capote de Velours. Redingote de Velours, à Capuchon

Velvet Capote (soft hat), Velvet Redingote with hood


Some very cold days brought us a display of overcoats (orig. par-dessus, but they look as what we modern costumers would call "pelisse" or "redingote") of gros vert (some kind of artichoke, pale green) and vert pré (fresh spring green), embellished with marten fur. The headgear is, as usually very big capotes, mostly trimmed with tulle and decorated with a big bow. This bow has two remarkable features. Not only is it nicer pleated than a couple of days ago, but the ends are tied again, in a way to form two layers. The big oblong buckle is then fixed on the centre of the bow. One should also mention that more black capotes are worn than we're used to see, in velvet and in repp. 
For the big dress (grand parure = Sunday's best / Opera / Diva Style) velvet flowers, in the hair continue to be our fashion favourites. The headdress becomes more elaborate, turbans of lamé tulle and mousseline are coming. 
Saturdays, the uniform of the ice-skaters at the Bassin de la Villette consisted of a scarlet jacket, trimmed with astrakan (short shorn sheepskin) at collar and revers, with three frogged buttons across the breast. 
The most elegant dominos for masked balls are made of white or rose (pale pink) coloured satin instead of taffeta, plain and without decoration.

Other snippets

Oh, good day my dear woman, you're surely bringing me a hat? - What, madame, a hat? I bring you several for you to choose from. Look at this one, it's a modern casque as they have not been made yet. And look at this one, simple and without fuss, but certainly not without it's merit, as it suggests an elegant negligence: It's a smaller variation of a capote, what my husband invented not eight days ago, we still have boxes filled with decorated toques and morning hats. - Not at all, my dear friend, you misunderstood my intentions: I don't want a hat what one can see everywhere around. - But could you tell me at least your taste? Does Madame prefer to have her face hidden or exposed? Would Madame like satin or velvet, flowers or plumes? - I don't anything of the sort. I want that my hat has no decided form, neither round or pointed, neither single-couloured, neither patterned, it shouldn't look like anything, in one word, to avoid to look like everyone's; Meanwhile everyone, this translates into most of the ladies, have adopted this kind of hat: Or otherwise, how can we attempt to describe the way our ladies dress their heads? It's sufficient to state what you have, velvet or satin with the exception of cashmere, wrap it somehow around your head, and the more your headdress is odd, the more it is today's must be look.

A diamond parure (set of matching jewellery in this case) is without a doubt the most beautiful gift a husband could present to his wife, but one's mistaken to believe, that the gift of this parure relieves the husband of making other gifts of a similar nature. "What should I wear?" asks a lady, dressing for a ball. "That's easy", replies her husband, "your diamond parure." "Always diamonds", replies the lady, "must it be that me and my parure are understood as a single unit? As soon someone sees my diamonds, one says - Oh look, it's Madame … - this tires me, I want an emerald parure. The poor husband lays out for the emeralds, the emeralds soon follow the path of the diamonds. Topazes, rubies and saphires need to be bought. A fortnight already Madame sights after garnets, so Monsieurs needs to acquire them quickly, and watches his other half exchanging her saphires, her topazes, her rubies, even her diamonds for a garnet necklace.

A ladies tailor, called Bernard, recently published in Dresden a theory on the artful cut, illustrated with plates.

(Check out Sabine's site - she dedicated quite a some time already to Bernhard

The production of Tulle

Tulle is a net imitating lace, what is made on adjusted knitting frames. Mister Genton produced the first samples a bit over 30 years ago. In 1791 Mssrs Jolivet and Cochet both from Lyons obtain a inventors patent for the production method of tulle. Mr Galino and others have also occupied themselves with much success.

But as lace and blondes de soies are made in France with an astonishing level of perfection to a moderate price, tulle doesn't represent a grand advantage.

This differs quite a lot in England, where the population is less considerable. The English producers need to help themselves with an invention what applies to their machines, and what offers them the merchandise what they were lacking (Note: Due to limited imports of French lace)

That is where the results stems from, the further development of Tulle by the English, adding embroidery they imitate our needle embroidery, but quickly this fashionable article (tulle-lace) is introduced to France, our producers caught up on their advances, having made Tulle to perfection and the talents of our embroiderers joined the success of these (French) producers in such a way to push an English product off the market what had already steeped France deeply.

During the 1806 exposition, where Mr Bonard father from Lyon won a medal, he promised to outdo the English in the production of tulle: He held true to his word. He overcame great many obstacles to obtain this goal, one of the biggest challenges was the good constructions of the looms, the choosing and preparing of the silk, no thing suffered neglect by his side when obtaining the best materials, be it the white or off-white, or the thinness and lightness of the thread . For these excellence results required him to travel frequently into the silk producing counties, correcting the spinning, thus creating the best quality material to meet his demands.

The production of tulle, as the one Mr Bonard is particularly involved with, is one of the branches in manufacturing with a high add-on-value onto the merchandise. One square meter of this fabric only requires silk valuing 50 centimes, the value of the tissue itself is 24 fr. The same kind of fabric, when imported from England can cost up to 60 fr.

(Note: This article puts the production value of the tulle centerstage: The cheaper (English) tulle-lace appears to be pushing the needle-lace out of favour, and then the higher quality tulle lace pushing the English import aside, with lower costs and higher quality. There is also a lot of pride into the finer product, the craftsmanship and the quality control some producers obliged themselves to. Also underlining is the monetary and economic side of fashion. It's always money, and what a good product in comparison to it's production cost tulle fabric is.

For comparison for us modern readers: the Journal des Dames would cost you 36 fr per year. The income of an artisan is stated in another article as 1200 p.a. - 100 francs a month to feed a family. I need to check the average income, because it appears to be low as that, so don't take this information as written in stone. But the Journal des Dames is similar to a modern fashion magazine. Few of us can actually afford what's shown there, but we can always wear a trickled down and more economical approach of the style)

Read up what occupied readers in Germany & England in the same month:
Sabine is taking a closer look into the "Journal des Luxus und der Moden", Natalie tackles "La Belle Assemblée", Maggie devotes her time to "Ackermann's Repository". (I will link directly to their monthly entries once they are up)

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Journal des Dames et des Modes, Janvier 1811 - No 3 & 4

Issue No 3, published on January 15, 1811 
No 1113 / Source:
Gravure 1113
Toque de Velours, à la Henri 4. Par-dessus, fourrée en hermine
Velvet Toque à la Henry IV, Overcoat lined in hermine. (The word "par-dessus" doesn't mean coat, but the "worn over it all")

No 1114 / Source:
Gravure 1114
1, Casque de Velours. 2, Chapeaux de Satin, garnis en Pluche. 3, Toque de Satin et Velours. 4, Capotes de Velours. 5, Chapeau de Satin et Velours
Casque are helmet-shaped hats, chapeaux are as a rule of thumb softer hats than capotes, and a toque is a toque. 

Velours is velvet. Satin is usually used for silk satin, but it could also be wool or cotton, though they would be rather described as croisé. Satin is a weave, it's not a description of the fibre.

Both Gravures belong to the foregoing issue N2, one of the issues what is not yet available digitally. 
This week's gravures are 1115 & 1116, and are not explained in detail in this issue. 

Gravure 1115
Coeffure en Cheveux Repoussés, avec une Natte Postiche
Douillette de Levantine
Hairdo with pulled back hair and a fake braid. A soft coat of Levantine (thick  silk or silk/wool twill, originally from Levant) fabric. 
(Douillette suggests a very soft, comfortable garment)
Picture by C. Barreto - Barreto-Lancaster Private Collection

Picture by C. Barreto - Barreto-Lancaster Private Collection

Gravure 1116 
is a special treat: It's a "hair-how-to", described a bit further down by its inventor, Mr. Palette, who runs his business as a hairdresser at Rue Neuve-des-Petits-Champs
Chou en Mèches. Bandeau de Coraux Hair-rosette or chignon made from multiple strands, coral-bandeau

First one added fringes to spencers, now also onto redingotes aux merinos (soft woollen redingotes), douillettes and onto velvet redingotes: Nowaday gold or silver fringes attune themselves to ball-dresses.

A long very flexible plume or, even better, a bird of paradise adorns toques. A velvet toque is usually ponceau (Poppy-read). Nearly all satin toques are white. It's also a white satin ribbon what dressmakers pair with blonde lace (silk lace) to compose a ball dresses bodice. Some hairdressers employ flowers where, instead of batiste velvet took its place.

Speaking of velvet, it is useful to mention that some bandeau (ribbons) used for the hairdo with hair (Coëffure en cheveux) are sprinkled with steel-spangles.

Other interesting snippets 
On January 15 the magasin de mode of Madame Amette currently located at 4,  Rue de l'Echelle moves to Rue Saint-Honoré no 338, between Place Vendôme and rue Neuve-des-Jacobins. (Comment by me: That's still a prime address for any fashion related enterprise today)

In our issue appearing on January 20, we shall include instructions on how to compose the hairdo shown on plate no 1116, of what Monsieur Palette, Hairdresser in rue Neuve-des-Petits-Champs is the composer.

Issue No 4, published on January 20, 1811

Gravure 1117
Ball dress. Demonstrating the Pas du Shall.
Please note the fringe on her dress, what have been discussed in issue No 3. In regard of the Pas du Schall I have to refer you to my other Blog, Terpsichore, where this topic will be discussed in a short while, though I am still gathering more information about it.


At all the milliners you will see pink, white, yellow, but don't let yourself be fooled by these sights. Yellow looses it's merit, white and pink are following. Ask for grey, take grey.

However a small demi-parure hat in white satin, what shows under it's bent rim a garland of flowers is not to be disdained. (Note: Parure is not just used for jewellery, most of you would combine "Parure" with "set of necklace, bracelets, brooch, earrings and tiara" - but it means nothing else than "finery" - so demi-parure is a semi-ornamented outfit. Might translate into "Casual Elegant, but not yet red-carpet" in modern terms)

For the rest, address yourself to your hairdressers, they are called upon daily. Not only do they know, but they also invent this winter's fashion. One of them will tell you, that a net shall hide a part of the hair-rosette (bun), therefore the look needs two bandeau of blue velvet. The other opts that straight hair, instead of a comb (tiara) a white flower garland ought to be placed.

But lets not forget that this space here is destined for the explanation of Plate 1116.

Picture by C. Barreto - Barreto-Lancaster Private Collection

Gravure 1116 (Published in No3, you don't see double)
Chou en Mèches. Bandeau de Coraux

Hair-rosette made from strands, coral-bandeau
To arrange this up-do, M Palette, who invented it, knots the hair rather too high than too low. If they are 8 pouce long (1 pouce = approx 1 inch) he divides them into four equal parts, and crosses and knots these strands with a ribbon-like knot, what he secures with a pin.
He first takes as much hair with the pin what is required to secure it, and then hides the pin between the strands. The fingertips help him more here than his eyes to make this task easy, he reveals to us. It's the thumb what holds the loose strand, and only withdraws it when the pin takes it's place to hold the strand in place. The pin is directed by the finger, what retreats the more the pin dives into the knot of hair. He uses the same technique for each loose strand. The Chou may be composed of five, six, seven or eight parts, up to taste, though one egresses through the other.

The bandeau is made of coral seed-pearls, larger in the middle than at the edges.

Other interesting snippets

The man who wears his garrick in the streets, is either travelling merchant, or a dandy of the café Hardi. The one who wears it either up front or at the back of a carriage is nothing else than a footman or a coachman; but the man who has quite some problems getting into the carriage with his heavy and long garrick - now that's a distinguished gentleman. A man as he ought to be.

Some time ago, we've seen these cheap little pieces of jewellery displayed only on fob-chains of the young, but these past months we've also seen them around ladies necks. Once it's a small locket in the shape of a basque-drum, or a golden book representing tablets, a hieroglyph of fortune's wheel, decorated with pierre parlantes (where the first cipher of the names of the stones give a word) or - and this is the most extraordinary and most fashionable one - a small golden dagger, what would - without a doubt - give most of our ladies the resemblance of Lucretia, and stands as a symbol of their virtue. (Don't think Borgia here, it's the Roman story, of the virtuous Lucretia, who preferred to kill herself than to live in shame)

There were many outcries against the corset (the original text reads corset, see for yourself on page 26), and our ladies did not only abandon their corsets, but also their gowns, without neck-kerchief, they went nearly in their smock. Of this extreme in giving up garments, the ladies fell back into another.

Not only do they lace, and enclose themselves with busk and whalebone as in past times, but today's corsets are bigger (higher) and heavier than those earlier ones. A current corset doesn't only compress the stomach, the waist and the shoulders, but it surrounds and compresses the bust in a way, that a woman wrapped in such a way can barely move.

Oh, how these grand ladies are envied their brilliant finery! They can't laugh, or eat, not bend or turn. What do I say - they can barely breath. The slightest sight breaks the cord, and will bring their finery in disorder. Happy are the good ladies, the family mothers, who live quietly in their house, they receive not compliments of some toadies, but the love of their children, and they live, head, ésprit and body in liberty with a rested consciousness.

(Now - please don't take these lines too serious. Le Centyeux usually signs rather poisonous little epistles, mostly mocking, sometimes hurting. I am happy I am not a subject of his scrutiny or his pen ;-) )

Read up what occupied readers in Germany & England in the same month:
Sabine is taking a closer look into the "Journal des Luxus und der Moden", Natalie tackles "La Belle Assemblée", Maggie devotes her time to "Ackermann's Repository". (I will link directly to their monthly entries once they are up)

A Journal Journey into the Year 1811 - Introduction

Let me introduce you to our project, a travel back into the year 1811.
Sabine is taking a closer look into the "Journal des Luxus und der Moden", Natalie tackles "La Belle Assemblée", Maggie devotes her time to "Ackermann's Repository", and I leave through the "Journal des Dames et des Modes".

Each of us will read, transcribe, translate her journal, and then it's up to us to pick up the quill and start writing.

It is as much a discovery journey for us, as it is for you, to read and compare the leading fashion magazines of their time, month by month.

Nearly everyone of us has come across the "Journal des Dames et des Modes" - though most of us nickname it "Costume Parisien", based on the titles of the fashion plates. But the Journal des Dames et des Modes is much more than just a fashion magazine. It includes theatre-critics, satirical writing, travel reports, fashiontrends and the famous plates. Pierre Le Mésangère, the publisher followed normally a publication rhythm of every 5 days, sometimes it's a tad shorter, sometimes a bit delayed.

For the year 1811 the BNF - the Bibliothèque National de France has 56 issues digitalised. Sadly not all of them, and not everything what has been digitalised has all it's pages. I will mention in the title the issues included in this month. If the database of the BNF will be updated with further issues, these will be included in time.

I will mostly concentrate on fashion, but you will also see transcriptions of other passages, of satirical pieces, references to dance and healthcare. The tags will help you navigate if you look for something particular.