Not on view

This separate bodice and ankle-length skirt stand out from within the first waves of radical change in fashion in the late 1770s, for the horizontal separation of parts and the exposure of the feet. Such practical thinking--with primary reference to peasant traditions, not to elite clothing--was still combined with panniers and a conical silhouette of past practice. But, most significantly, a dialogue has begun: clothing can be changed by real needs, even the desire of women to be active, to walk more in nature (as advocated by Rousseau) and stand less on ceremony. In the 1981-82 Costume Institute exhibition "The Eighteenth-Century Woman," this costume was worn with an enormous wig with a frigate atop it, in the manner of court celebrations of French naval victories. But this dress had already taken its own plebeian and pedestrian path and should not be mistaken with the last flourishes of court hegemony.

Dress, silk, French

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Overall front.