French Fashion Mannequins - DRAFT

Rose Bertin

Henry IV of France dispatched miniature, elegantly attired dolls to his fiancée, Marie de' Medici of Florence, to update her on French trends.

Louis XIV wanted all of Europe to know about Paris fashions so he began sending life-sized fashion dolls to every European Court. These highly detailed and accurately scaled "lady dolls" were used to illustrate the latest styles of dress, hair fashion and accessories before the advent of modern fashion magazinesThe dolls were dressed in the latest styles. Noble ladies would have their tailors imitate the clothes, footwear, hats and accessories on the latest dolls. Middle Dutch word mannekijn, the diminutive form of man, "man, person." French Poupees are some of the stars of the antique doll world. From renown makers of dolls such as Jumeau, Bru, Huret, Gaultier and many others

Bertin clothedMarie Antoinette from 1770 until her dethronement in 1792. Marie Antoinette was known to send dolls to her mother, the Empress Maria Theresa, and sisters in Austria so they were kept up to date with what was in vogue at Versailles.Bertin's fashion dolls were called "Pandores," and were made of wax over jointed wood armatures or porcelain. There were small ones the size of a common toy doll, or large ones as big or half as big as a real person, petites Pandores and grandes Pandores. Fashion dolls as courriers of modes[1] remained in vogue until the appearance of Fashion magazines.It became the fashion for ladies to own a pair of dolls, one dressed en grand toilette, and the other en de'shabille. These were known as the Grande Pandore and the Petite Pandore respectively, and they were the subjects of every extravagant whim of stylish dressing: hats, dresses, shoes, elaborate hairstyles and a great deal of miniature beads and jewelry.

Rose Bertin circa 1780

The painstakingly correct dolls' clothes were beautiful and included every construction detail. The dressmakers were able to remove the clothes and copy them as patterns which they would then grade to the size of individual customers.

Emperess Eugenie - Her biographer says cautiously that " possibly also she was the inventor of the lift communicating with the Empress's dressing-room on one Moor of the Tuileries and with rooms containing her wardrobes on the floor above. It was customary for her waiting-women to dress in the costume proposed for the Empress one of four mannequins modelled on her figure and to send it down in the lift. Eugenie could thus see herself before as others would see her later and transfer the clothes from the model to her own person
Nevertheless it was always with England that the main French fashion trade was exchanged even during war of the Spanish Succession, when the hostilities between the two countries might have been expected to hinder such frivolous interchanges. The Abbe Prevost, writing in 1704 at the height of the war, observed: 'By an act of gallantry which is worthy of being noted in the chronicles of history for the benefit of the ladies, the ministers of both courts granted a special pass to the mannequin , that pass was always respected, and during the times of greatest enmity experienced on both sides the mannequin was the one object which remained unmolested'. And in 1712, when an embittered peace was still two years away, an announcement appeared in the English papers to the effect that 'last Saturday the French doll for the year 1712 arrived at my house in King Street, Covent Garden'.

There are frequent instances of Anglo-French co-operation in fashion throughout the eighteenth century. During the Regency, Dubois, the French Ambassador to London, later Cardinal Dubois, wrote to a Parisian dressmaker named Mademoiselle Filon, commissioning a large mannequin to show the ladies of London how the ladies of Paris were dressed, even down to the details of their underclothing. The answer was that a mannequin of this type would cost at least 300 francs, and Mademoiselle Filon would not risk the expense unless she was sure of being reimbursed. One imagines that the future Cardinal, rather than disappoint the ladies of the country to which he was then accredited, proceeded then to forward the money.

The story of Du Barry By James Lauren Ford

(Duuring the 18th Century) At that time French taste governed the entire world in matters of dress and adornment, as for that matter it did a century later during the Second Empire. The new fashions for each season emanated from the court of the king, and were sent abroad by means of a manikin called "the great doll of France," which was dressed in accordance with the very latest styles, and sent to every court of Europe in charge of an envoy and a numerous suite of attaches and lackeys. So much importance did

foreigners of fashion and distinction attach to the visits of this doll, the forerunner of the modern fashion-plate, which was of course unknown then, that once, during the Seven Years' War, when the British had established such a complete blockade of the French ports that it was impossible for a single ship to break through the cordon, an exception was made in favor of the vessel bearing the great doll of France, which was allowed to cross the channel. And it is with no small degree of pride that French historians describe the manner in which the flags of the enemy's fleet were dipped in salutation to the ship bearing the doll and its accompanying embassy on its way to teach the English how to dress themselves properly."

If necessary they would unpick the stitched outfits, assess the cut of the pattern and then remake the fashion doll's costume. The miniature fashion dolls were passed from court to court throughout Europe. They were exquisite and represented the latest word in fashion and trimmings. These alabaster or china dolls were sent to Europe and America in the 19th century.

Although effective paper patterns were developed in the Victorian era the use of costumed dolls as models was used even after the Second World War. In mid 1945 the Theatre De La Mode was organised by the Chambre Syndicale of Paris. The Syndicale organised the sending of small scale couture designed models abroad.

a huge leap forward with the development of electrically-lit streets and large, glass-pane windows. Suddenly, strolling along avenues and looking at the fantasy worlds displayed in retail store windows became a favorite pastime. The first mannequins created for this purpose were made of wax and wood. They were extremely heavy, weighing between 200 and 300 pounds, with iron-reinforced legs so they would stay upright. With glass eyes, false teeth, and real hair, the mannequins adopted the feminine ideal of large bosoms and tiny waists, in situations of genteel living, like giving a toast at a dinner party. The art of fashion merchandising was born.

In 1945, a group of French fashion designers developed a plan to show the world that even after the ravages of war their country was still the leader in fashion. Enlisting the talents of top designers, including Balenciaga and Schiaparelli, they created 172 twenty-seven-inch-tall mannequins, dressed them in the latest French fashions, and sent them out on a world tour. The exhibit, called Théâtre de la Mode, toured England and the United States. In the early 1950s the figures from the exhibit were acquired by the Maryhill Museum of Art in Goldendale, Washington, where they can be seen today.

It was a collaboration of fashion designers and artists for the spring and summer of 1945 fashions. It was intended to show the supremacy of French fashion designing and was an attempt to reassert French Couture. There is nothing quite like a model mannequin to really show off a garment.

A few years ago Staff at a stately home have discovered a rare 19th century mannequin used as a body double for the Paris aristocracy, and art historians are now trying to solve the mystery of its origins. The model, which had sat undisturbed in a sedan chair at Packwood House, near Warwick, for a century or so, was so intricately put together that an X-ray of its hand looks almost human.

Expecting to find a rag doll underneath the antique dress, they were amazed to find the mannequin had been put together with fine detail. Unusually for the period, it has breasts, nipples and even a belly button.

Further detailed examination with specialist X-ray equipment revealed that it was made of wooden ball-and-socket joints, metal struts and fake muscle tissue, allowing it to be moved in the same way as the human body. She is completely jointed, even down to her fingertips.

Its creator also put on blonde human hair, complete with a subtle wave. The delicate papier-mache head also has pierced ears and blue eyes.

It is believed that the model was made in Paris and, because of the detail, used by the upper classes. Lay models, as they were called, were a favourite in the Pre-Raphaelite era for artists seeking to overcome the challenge of how to get their subjects to remain still.

The life-size models were dressed, posed and painted so that the lady of the house was required to sit only when the artist turned to the face and hands. It also saved her modesty should she not wish to pose naked.

For as long as anyone can remember, the figure at Packwood, which stands 5ft 5in tall and has a 21.5-inch waist, had worn an elegant beige silk dress, embroidered with tiny flowers, dating from the 18th century. Once this was removed, dress restorers had to wade through long drawers and petticoats before they discovered the lady's hidden charms.

Gone to the Shops: Shopping in Victorian England by Kelley Graham 2008
The Fashion Doll: From Bébé Jumeau to Barbie by Juliette Peers 2004

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