Robe à la Française "Sack-back gown"

  • Gift of Madame Bove
  • c.1750 - 1760
  • Dress: liseré satin, grey and green silk. Lining: striped taffeta, green and violet silk. Green silk chenille appliqués.
  • GAL15611.D.37 A/B
  • Palais Galliera, musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris

Often to be seen in the works of the great painter Antoine Watteau, the 'robe à la française' was the hallmark of the elegant woman during the reign of Louis XV. Its outstanding characteristic was its back, whose box pleats fell loose to the floor, with a slight train. It was worn over a petticoat most often made of the same material. The close-fitting bodice was closed by compères, pieces of fabric attached to each side of the opening and buttoned together. The 'pagoda' sleeves stopped at the elbows and were ornamented with two scalloped flounces. Beneath the dress was a whalebone corset which turned the torso into an inverted triangle, while the hips were broadened with panniers or side hoops made of reed or metal.
This robe à la française is a pefect illustration of the Rococo aesthetic, which saw beauty as necessarily dynamic: the undulation of the flowers on the fabric and the silk chenille appliqués on the bodice were harmoniously matched by the swaying of the panniers as the wearer moved about.

Notice's author : Pascale Gorguet-Ballesteros