Another specific style popular in the later 18th century was the infamous Gaulle, also called the Chemise a la Reine (after Marie Antoinette). Resembling the chemise, an 18th century woman's most intimate garment (underwear!), the Chemise a la Reine was considered quite scandalous when it first debuted. When the portrait of Marie Antoinette in her new Gaulle premiered it only added to the growing mistrust surrounding her reputation. It didn't help that once the Gaulle became popular instead of scandalous, the French Aristocrats were buying yards and yards of (imported) cotton muslin, instead of French Silk. The French silk market took a hit, and since the trend had been attributed to Antoinette, she was blamed for yet another problem befalling France. Never the less, it was soon one of the most popular styles for fashionable ladies of the 1780's and 1790's, on both sides of the English channel.
|Elizabeth Foster, 1785 Lady Lemon, 1788 Kitty Calcraft, 1787|
|Mrs. Bryan Cooke, 1787-91 Princess Louise Auguste of Denmark, 1780 Baronne de Chalvet-Souville, 1793|
|Portrait of a Lady with a Book, 1785 Marie Antoinette, 1783 Georgania Cavendish, 1786|
|Chemise à la reine 1785-89, musée de la toile de jouy, photos from costumehysteric.blogspot.com/|
I am not sure of other extant examples, it seems that none of what I consider the big costume collections (LACMA, MET, and the V&A) have one in their collections. I am sure there are more out there in smaller and less public collections, as they were so prominent in portraiture from the time.
The Chemise a la Reine is a popular choice for modern costume designers for films set in the late 18th century. I first fell in love with the various styles of Chemise a la Reine gowns in the Trianon scenes in Sofia Coppola's film Marie Antoinette. I have yet to make one of these beautiful gowns, but I hope to soon. I have to make one so I can wear my big Picture hat!
I hope you guys liked today's brief overview of the Chemise a la Reine!
All of the information for this post has been gathered from the textbook Survey of Historic Costume (5th edition) by Phyllis G. Tortora and Keith Eurbank, from the links above or my own knowledge. I want to share the resources I come across with all of you as much as possible. The portraits used to illustrate today's post were sourced from Pinterest and can be accessed here.. Again I repeat my disclaimer that I am not a historian, and if you have corrections or additions for this post, please begin the discussion in comments as I would love to learn more!