November 2007 Archives

The Victim's Ball

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victime01.jpg
Croisures à la victime, 1798
from "Fashion in the French Revolution" by Aileen Ribiero
Or, les Bal des Victimes...

The celebratory atmosphere following the "Reign of Terror" gave way to a number of frivolous yet gruesome fashions and pastimes, one of which was the Victim's Ball. In order to qualify for admittance in one of these sought after soirees one had to to be a close relative or spouse of one who had lost their life to the guillotine. Invitations were so coveted that papers proving your right to attend had to be shown at the door, and some were even known to forge this certificate in their eagerness. All the rage at these grand balls was to have the hair cut high up off the neck, in imitation of "le toilette du condamne" where the victim's hair is cut so as not to impede the efficiency of the blade. There were several popular hairstyles including cheveux à la titus or à la victime for both women and men, where the hair is given very short and choppy cut, and the "dog ears" worn by Muscadins, where long flops of hair are left on either side of the face, but cut right up to the hairline on the back of the neck. And for the ladies, a thin red velvet ribbon worn round the neck, or red ribbons worn croisures à la victime, a kind of reverse fichu, or ceinture croisée, across the back of the bodice forming a symbolic "x marks the spot" across the upper back.

Will posterity believe that persons whose relatives died on the scaffold did not institute days of solemn and common affliction during which, assembled in mourning clothing, they would attest to their grief over such cruel, such recent losses, but instead [instituted] days of dancing where the point was to waltz, drink and eat to one's heart's content.
—Mercier

Like most fads, these reactionary styles and those of the Incroyable et Merveilleuse crowd that ruled Paris the days after 9 Thermidor, this one was over before it began. By the end of the decade once mutually exclusive sartorial insignia such as knee breeches (monarchist) and the tricoloure were sported together with verve, irrespective of their once pertinent symbolism. It's just fashion! The short and sassy hair cut à la titus never caught on outside of France for women, but lasted in France into the next century. Men's hair never recovered. From the unpowdered long locks of the revolutionary sympathizer, to the dashingly short titus, men have endeavored to look unfussed ever since, even if it took a whole lot of fussing to achieve.

Sources:

Marie-Antoinette and the Petit Trianon at Versailles
Legion of Honor, San Francisco
November 17, 2007 — February 17, 2008

marie-antoinette_legion_of_honor.jpg

Now, if my google alert box weren't quite so overwhelming, I might have caught this press release when it went out. But due to the sharp eyes of a good friend, Nadja (♥), I have the link!

Aieeeee!

The blurb:

Marie-Antoinette, the Austrian-born queen of Louis XVI of France, was given the Petit Trianon, a small château secluded in the park at Versailles, upon her accession in 1774. An icon of French neoclassicism, it exemplifies the perfection of 18th-century French architecture through its delicate balance of form and proportion. Its interiors were furnished to the queen's order with pieces of the utmost elegance, restraint, and beauty. This exhibition gives a visual history of the Petit Trianon through 88 pieces of the finest furniture, paintings, and sculpture from this château. It is complemented by watercolors, prints, and drawings of the house and its innovative landscaping, including the picturesque Hameau, a rustic village where the queen and her favorites could relax away from the prying eyes of the court at Versailles. This is the only venue of the exhibition, which is organized by the Musée National of the Château de Versailles.

One of my favorite things about trumpeting your hobbies loud and proud (on the internet and otherwise) is that friends and strangers alike are sure to let you know of something dead or decapitated... in case you missed it. Yay!

I'd be running down there this instant if I didn't have so much going on this week with Dolpa & Work & Thanksgiving & OH GAWD! Heh.

In any case, it is showing at San Francisco's Legion of Honor from today til 2/17/2008, with lots of very cool special events planned.

We'll report back. For reals. I still have 2837434 pictures from my Severed Head, er, Absinthe tour of Europe last summer! And more on the revolutionary fashion stuff. I'm a busy girl. But it is all coming along.

Mwah!
Kallisti

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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