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What can be more French than allowing current affairs to affect fashion? The hairstyles of Marie Antoinette, balloons taking off, battleships, and newborns are some of the examples, but the finest of them is the beautifully dressed Merveilleuses. The first appearance of Les Merveilleuses was in 1974, inspired by the guillotine victims who cultivated a very fashionable and edgily morose style. The leaders of the Merveilleuses, Rose de Beauharnais and Theresa Tallien, were very stylish and had barely lost their lives after being sentenced during the Terror. It is inexplicable how that horrifying origin of the style makes even modern ladies adopt and like it. A number of contrasting items contributed to the Les Merveilleuses dressing style form its basic description (Huber and Drowne, 2004)
Majority of fashionable hairstyles at the beginning of the Terror’s closing stage tended to resemble the haircuts of the guillotine’s victims, which were done before the victims were transported to the place of execution. The locks of the hair were messed up by scented pomades creating a stylish disheveled appearance. The red scarf as a part of the garment was worn for the first time after the famous beauty of Emilie de Sainte-Amaranthe was executed. Her heroism, courageousness and indisputable glamour made the Parisian ladies wear red scarves in her honor. A red ribbon lapel, which was made of rubies, imitated the blood droplets near the neck (McEvoy, 2009).
A lavish use of fragrant white powder on bosom and face made a suitable appearance of a pining living corpse. Almost transparent white muslin and gauze low cut dresses resembled the clear dresses and chemises worn by the prisoners during their executions.
A red silk harness, the Croix a la Victime, was worn resembling a shawl just about the bodice, deviously making a red cross on the back. Thin sandals in Grecian style looked very beautiful combined with gold or silver toe rings and painted toe nails.
It should be noticed, that contemporary fashion differs from the original designs. One of the comparative and contrasting aspects between the historical design and the modern one is that modern design does not include the red silk harness or the Croix a la Victime. There is also an absence of diversity of color as the dresses only utilize the aspect of gauze material, but the symbolic aspect of white and red colors are neglected. It is quite distinctive that unlike the previous model with some degree of decency, the current designs popularize clothing that portrays excessive exposure of women’s bodies, which is a dominating factor in modern fashion. Thus, a modern diversity of styles is quite critical.
Robe De Style
During the early 1920s, the features of women’s clothes were characterized by dropped waistlines and short skirts. At that time, women’s clothing was full of silhouettes of long and cylindrical dresses, with the skirt falling below the knee by 7” or 10”. The simple style had an astonishing wide range of details, demonstrating an imaginative variety of trims and cuts. Fashion consisted of numerous variations and styles. Among the most popular styles was the Robe de Style or Basque dress, a dressing style of 1920s, which could mostly be correlated with its initial Parisian designer, Jeanne Lanvin (Lavin, 2007).
The robe de style was a version of a young girl’s dress as it had something in common with the silhouette of 1920s and the old styled belled-skirt. Its shape had a slightly fitted, tubular bodice that draped or hung down straightly to a dropped waist. It has a more fitting aspect compared with chemise around décolletage that is irregularly heightened with a stylized flower-patterned design. The full-skirt youthful fitting is occasionally supported with the use of hoop structured undergarments or petticoats enunciated with a broad waist ribbon, which at times sits lower beyond the natural waist (Lavin, 2007).
Just like the majority of 1920s evening wear, the clothing was obtainable in luxurious fabrics from structured taffeta to sturdy velvets. The hem of robe de style discreetly fell slightly above the ankle and was therefore suitable for women above the age of 30. Womanly and gratifying, the dress emphasizes hips and a tummy. For women who did not find it comfortable to wear the tubular dresses of Chanel and chemise dresses, the robe de style provided a little more excitement with its full flounce (Boyer, 2010)
It should be also mentioned that, modern design of robe de style has a contrasting feature to the initial design as its hem is broader and it is also much longer. The chemise part is also different as it is quite gauzed, slightly tight and it does not have the initial neckline, clinging tight to the shape of bodice. The waist has also dropped further, leaving the upper tightened part of the chemise to extend up to the upper part of the legs.