Fashion Today and Yesterday
With the death of Louis XIV and the coronation of Louis XV in 1715, a new style called rococo blossomed across Europe. Although the term was later used in a derogatory manner, suggesting excess and frivolity, it generally refers to a high achievement in fashion that represents the height of French culture. Though France was already the well-renowned leader in fashion by the reign of Louis XIV, the rococo period confirmed the countrys reputation as a worldwide leader in the world of fashion. After the initial popularity of rococo, the styles changed, and the French Revolution in 1789 seemed to create a new modernization in clothing styles reducing rococo into the much more stark fashions of neoclassicism in style. The radical change in clothing style is one of the most dramatic such shifts in the history of fashion.
During the seventeenth century new and ornate mens fashions continually appeared, but by the time of the eighteenth century the styles had become much more refined. The typical French court apparel included a coat, which gradually became more fitted and added a waistcoat and breeches, a white shirt, a cravat, and a pair of silk stockings. Brilliant colors and intricate embroidery were increasingly important adornments. Cloth for jackets was often embroidered before being tailored so that men could choose their favorite patterns and then order the suit cut and sewn to size.
Despite the fact that Rococo began in the exclusively ornamental arts, the method showed unquestionably in painting. Painters used graceful colors and blissful forms, decorated with cherubs and myths of love. Some works show a sort of wickedness or contamination in the behavior of their subjects. Landscapes were idyllic and often illustrated the laid-back jaunts of patricians.
On the eve of the French Revolution, striped patterns became very popular, and the desire for elaborate embroidery seemed to tail off and the favored fabric shifted from silk to much more simple cotton. The youth adopted new fashions that defined the age, some dressing in black coats to be seen as outlandish. The only thing, it seems that could end the reign of high-fashion rococo dress was the leveling of the French Revolution.