August 20, 2008

Fashion, du jour: A Language of Their Own



As interesting as the fashions of the day were themselves, names of styles, colors and details were just as fascinating.
In the autumn of 1779 a new color became the it color, and that was puce. Grayish brown. Lovely!

Named after a comment Louis made to Marie when he saw her in a dress of this muted color, Puce became all the rage. Puce, or, flea was a soft color but had many variations. That autumn you could find this Flea color everywhere, in shades of:
Back of a flea, Belly of a flea, Thigh of a flea (darker brownish), Blushing flea (pinkish tones) and Angry flea.
And who could forget the popular Caca Dauphin??? (brown shade inspired by diapers of a baby who is not potty trained)

But these names were the mere beginning whole new language tailored for this world of fashion, a strange new way of describing what was in among our fashionable friends.
Just to give you an example of how extensive this code or jargon became is noted in a report of the toilette of Mademoiselle Duthé, spotted at the Opera in 1788:

“...wearing a dress of withheld sighs (split with an underskirt), adorned with superfluous regrets (a gathered looped band of material), with, in the middle, some perfect naivety (knots of lace); it was garnished with indiscreet complaints (appliqué silk flowers) and ribbons of marked attention (wide bows); her shoes were hair-of the-Queen color (ash blonde), embroidered with diamonds in perfidious attack (a ray-like design) with the come-hithers (embroidery on the back of the heels) in emeralds."

1 comment

  1. I love the term "Puce". It sounds like a very interesting color indeed.

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