January 18th, 2012

Gowns in History {18th Century Court Manteau}

Modern wedding gowns are a reflection of past fashions, stretching back for centuries. We love researching what women have worn, and when we came across the image below, we were inspired to share.

Well, actually, the first thing we thought was, “How on Earth did the woman who wore this sit?”

1750-1745 British court dress at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Certainly makes today’s ballgown wedding dress look like a sheath, doesn’t it?

The above is a 1740s Court Manteau from the Victoria& Albert Museum. Popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, the word Manteau refers to the gown, but the hoop skirt (also known as a Pannier) beneath is what gave it such a wide silhouette. Gowns with exaggerated shapes were reserved for formal occasions, the most fancy of which was, of course, at court with the King and Queen.

Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette via IMDB

We imagine the skirts became so wide as all the couturiers tried to outdo one another in fashion! After all, only the wealthy could afford a gown of such extravagance, and what better way to display wealth than a gown that must be turned sideways to fit through a doorway?

1740 – 1745 British court dress at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Whatever the reason, it’s fascinating to think that our very own airy, easy-to-wear bridal ball gown, Eleanor, is distantly related to court gowns like these!

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