Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Reticule and Ridicule - the often satirized and sometimes political fashion accessories of the Regency era
Reticules frequently featured beading or embroidery and could be quite elaborate. They could be bought from milliners but many ladies made their own, often to match a spencer, parasol, gloves or shoes.
Rectangular and lozenge shaped, they were made of silk and after 1810, increasingly of velvet. During the Napoleonic wars they could be shaped like the military sabretache, each with a tassel from the lowest point. Toward the end of the Regency, they began using clasps as an alternative to the drawstring. They were a source of artistic endeavour, such as those embroidered with floral designs and silver spangles, and even political expression with the silk reticules distributed by the Ladies Society for the Relief of Negro Slaves.
The picture is of the beautiful Madame Recamier, using her expensive shawl to add luxury and sensuality to a very simple muslin gown. Fashionable ladies were spoken of as 'well draped' rather than well-dressed. In France Madame Gardel, a performer of the shawl dance would give instructions in the graces of the shawl. The shawls provided warmth for the evening where spencers were unsuitable.
Reference material: Sarah Jane Downing: Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen
I write sensual historical romance where heroes meet their match in feisty heroines. Add a dash of adventure, a murder or two, a mystery or intrigue. What better time to set them than the Georgian, Regency and the late Victorian period on the brink of the 20th Century. The Regency was a time of both opulence and abject poverty. Of economic and social change: the Napoleonic wars, the power struggle for the Americas, and the Industrial revolution when people began to desert the country for the cities. Celebrity Lord Byron wrote dark romantic poetry, and Beau Brummell defined and shaped fashion into a period of simplistic elegance. Men abandoned brocades and lace for linen trousers, overcoats with breeches and boots, and women abandoned corsets for high wasted, thin gauzy dresses. A spend-thrift aesthete known for his scandalous affairs, George IV, the Prince of Wales was made Regent in 1811 after his father was declared too mad to rein. Prinny presided over the elegant society of the ton, the so called Upper Ten Thousand, who defined themselves by an incredibly formal etiquette code which set them apart from the rising middle class.