themes and issues

A History of Fashion: XVIIIth century

During XVIIIth century fashion was influenced by the new and innovative Rococo style.
In Italy the French influence conditioned hairdressers and cooks, who had to be “foreigners”, or have foreign names, to be fashionable.
At the end of XVIIth century there was an important change: England became the new centre of fashion, following the colonialist economical power.
During  XVIIIth century, elegant men  wore only clothes made in London.
Until the French Revolution female fashion was characterized by light colours, flowers and laces.
In this period there was the introduction of some particular female clothes elements, like plunging necklines, beauty-spots on the breast, uncovered forearms.
Until 1770 the most common garment was the “adrienne”, characterized by a long  cape trail.
After that year clothes became shorter and showed the neck. In this period the first type of the modern tailleur appeared: it was composed of a short and tight jacket and a skirt of medium length.

In male fashion colours became lighter and there was the introduction of embroidered decorations.
English male fashion of this half of the XVIII century were the tail-coat and  the “riding coat”, particularly suitable for riding  comfortably.

But the most famous characteristic of this century was the wig, used by both sexes, that were powdered and slicked.

Ladies began to wear  a red ribbon around their neck, called “à la guillotine” because it imitated the sign of the head detached from the  body, and it the hairstyle “à la victime” was invented,  that recalled the shearing imposed to a convicted.

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