Grand Ladies of the Reign of Louis XV - 1715 - 1774

Fashion abruptly shifted when Louis XIV died. Dresses with panniers (basket-like appendages to the sides) and bodices ending in vee waistlines crossed the Pyrenees into France and came into style. This style remained in use with little change until the 1770s. Change was most noticeable in coiffures that began short in reaction to the commodes and Fontanges headdresses of the late Louis XIV era, but began to expand upward in the 1760s to reach towering heights and massive volumes in the 1770s and 1780s. The sideways-expanded skirt reached a grotesque width with court "mantua" dresses in the UK. The French saw two styles of dress, one where the fullness of the skirt swept upwards in back to be gathered at the back of the neckline to form a sack-like garment, the "robe à la française." In the other style, the bodice was attached to the skirt to create the "robe à l'anglaise."

Regional variations were still important - information moved at the speed of a horse-drawn carriage, including information about fashion. German existed as a language, but Germany did not exist. German-speaking central Europe was a melange of bishoprics, duchies, grand duchies, principalities, and kingdoms, often ruled by persons entitled to select the Holy Roman Emperor as Electors. Marquise.de identifies another dress format, the "robe allemande" that developed in this area and era described here.

The Western World was changing. The UK had granted people civil liberties and limited royal power with the Glorious Revolution of 1688 , People understood government was not pre-ordained and could be agreed to in the concept of "social contract." However, France was not adjusting to the new thinking. Madame de Pompadour knew trouble was brewing when she calmed Louis XV by saying, "Au reste, après nous, le Déluge."


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