Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Robe battante- the inspiration

In three weeks time I’m going on an 18th century weekend and as I won’t be able to wear stays, I need clothes that are loose. I already have simpler clothes, but I really wanted something nice for the evening and though a robe battante would be a very good solution. We will ignore the sheer madness of attempting one- I did try to get the voice of reason, but everyone I asked told me to go for it. I promise, I will not kill myself in making it, if I can’t finish, then I won’t try to finish.

A robe battante, or volante, is a loose gown from the early 18th century with the back in watteu pleats. Worn over panniers it gave the wearer a rather bell-shaped silhouette.
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Though an informal gown it could certainly be worn at social gatherings and in painting by Nicolas Lancret and Jean François de Troy engage in various pleasant pastimes, wearing this comfortable gown.
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As you can see above the neckline generally seems to be V-shaped and the front may be open down to the waist. Winged of shaped cuffs seems to be most common. Being so loose it could certainly have been worn without stays, but on those gowns that are open, it seems to reveal laced stays underneath. I don’t find that so odd- for many women it can be uncomfortable to go without any support at all. And stays was what you wore, something you put on at a daily basis without thinking about it. Stays aren’t in itself an uncomfortable garment and can be laced so it just gives a nice support.
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It’s hard to see on the picture above, but the front is close by tiny silver frogs. Very cute. The collar is rather odd, though. Again it’s hard to see here, but it looks like a “fur” made out of small loops.

The battante had a little sister too, the shorter casaque. Here a very striped one.
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6 comments:

gentlewomanthief said...

Bell shaped - I love it! What a great solution for not being able to wear tight clothes/stays. Looks like a great way to show off a pretty fabric, too (that dark blue in the fourth picture is gorgeous)! That stripe is really fun and so is the red in the second picture.

Good luck! And I want to see what fabric you're going for!

American Duchess said...

brave woman! I have no idea what is going on here, hahahaa. Keep us posted!

Johanna Öst said...

I don't know if this is of any help to you, and maybe you have already seen the picture, but I think this painting of a woman actually getting in to her robe volante is very interesting: http://jaffa.johannaost.com/IMGP8480.JPG

Isis' Wardrobe said...

gentlewomanchief: You can see the fabric in my new post. :-) I would have loved a striped one, but perhaps another time...

American Duchess: Hmm, I realise that I may sound a bit cryptic. I'm not pregnant, I'm going to have surgery, that's why I can't wear my stays.

Johanna: Thank you! I have seen it, I have it in a book somewhere, but only in black and white. So lovely to see it in colour (an deasier to see the details)!

Feminism and Beaches! said...

Hello there!

I know this post is old but I wondered (if you're still active on this blog that is!) if you could provide the source for the first image. The black and white couple image. Is it from a book or a museum archive? I can't seem to find it anywhere but your blog. Thanks!

- Erika
Soon to be MFA Costume production, costume historian

Isis said...

Feminism and Beaches!: It's from a costume book I scanned some fifteen years ago, and I'm sorry to say I can't recall which one. I don't even know if it's one I own, or one I got from the library. :( If I come across the source I'll get back to you.

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