Planning my next project- 18th Century Robe de Cour

Now that my Victorian (Early Bustle) Ballgown is done, I have started planning my next project. Going to Costume College let me see many gorgeous costumes and definitely gave me plenty of ideas for inspiration. There were quite a few people dressed in lovely 18th century gowns.

Next year’s theme for Costume College is “Royalty”.  To me, no costume exemplifies royalty more than court dress (the pinnacle is probably court dress + coronation robes). Court dress existed during many eras, but the 18th century is rather famous for it, and this is the era I decided to make my next dress on.


Information on 18th Century court dress is rather scarce, and there are actually no extant gowns worn in France left in existence. Sweden has a couple lovely examples left though. There are several blogs that show some construction of court gowns, and it seems there was a project several years ago where costumers decided to recreate court gowns of the era.

Les Arts Decoratifs has very helpful posts on court gowns, and Isis’s Wardrobe also has some great posts documenting the creation of her court gown. I highly recommend visiting their sites if you have any interest in 18th century court gowns.


What distinguishes the 18th century “Robe de Cour” is the make of the bodice. It features a low, wide neckline and the bodice laces in the back. Instead of being worn over separate stays like the majority of costumes of the era, the stays are built into the bodice itself. The other thing that the court gowns of the era were known for was the wide paniers.

Petticoat of bright yellow silk worn at a ball at Holyrood in 1760 by Helen Robertson of Ladykirk

Is this dress wide enough?            Petticoat of bright yellow silk worn in 1760 by Helen Robertson of Ladykirk

I already have my main fabric. When I went to the LA garment district, I was able to find a lovely printed silk for about $6 a yard (it’s 54″ wide). If you have ever looked for silk fabric to buy, you will quickly realize how rare it is to come across such a price.

 

Below are some of the gowns that will serve as inspiration for my own gown.

1751 Queen Lovisa Ulrike's costume suit.

Queen Lovisa Ulrike’s costume suite, 1751

1766 Wedding dress of Sofia Magdalena, from the Royal Armoury 2

Wedding dress of Sofia Magdalena of Sweden, 1766

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some portraits-

1765 Queen Sofia Magdalena by Lorentz Pasch the Younger

Queen Sofia Magdalena by Lorentz Pasch the Younger 1765

1745 Portrait of Maria Teresa Rafaela of Spain by Louis-Michel van Loo

Portrait of Maria Teresa Rafaela of Spain by Louis-Michel van Loo, 1745

1768 María Carolina de Austria by Anton Raphael Mengs

María Carolina de Austria by Anton Raphael Mengs 1768

 

 

 

1765 Maria Christina of Austria

1765 Maria Christina of Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I realize that this is a very ambitious project but I am hoping that working on it over the next year, I will be able to have it done.

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