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:

1 comment:

  1. HOW EXCITING!!! Especially the reader's letter about the corsets/stays!!! This finally solved the mystery about the 'Corset de Tissu en X", which was declared as a ball gown in the 'Göttinigsches Taschenbuch'. But it truly is underwear! I have edited my post back from September last year accordingly with a note at the end of the text. (
    Thank you :)