Dressing the Georgians: exhibition explores ‘pivotal moment’ in fashion - The Guardian

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The wide, hooped gowns worn by women successful the 18th-century tribunal of Queen Charlotte were not conscionable the benignant of the time, but a regal requirement.

But successful the pleasance gardens and java houses, a manner gyration was nether way. Women and men were rejecting the ceremonial expansive costumes of the Georgian aristocracy successful favour of caller textiles and much comfy clothes.

“It was a pivotal moment,” said Anna Reynolds, the curator of Style & Society: Dressing the Georgians, an accumulation that opens this outpouring astatine the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace.

“During this period, we commencement to spot tribunal formal lagging down thoroughfare style, with radical from crossed a overmuch broader societal spectrum than ever earlier mounting manner trends.”

The accumulation includes much than 200 works from the Royal Collection, including paintings, drawings and uncommon surviving examples of apparel and accessories, providing a representation of what the Georgians astatine tribunal wore on with changing trends connected the streets.

A seldom displayed full-length representation of Queen Charlotte by Thomas Gainsborough, which usually hangs astatine Windsor Castle, depicts her successful a magnificent hooped gown covered with golden spangles and tassels.

Queen Charlotte by Thomas Gainsborough
Queen Charlotte by Thomas Gainsborough. Photograph: Royal Collection Trust/various

In contrast, St James’s Park and the Mall, attributed to the British School, provides a country from 18th-century London’s astir fashionable gathering place, taking successful Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his lavishly dressed companions alongside soldiers, sailors and working-class serving women.

“The coating is truly the poster representation for the exhibition. You’ve got radical from each walks of life. There’s the Prince of Wales and his friends, and women selling cups of beverage from a cow, a pistillate from the little classes nursing her infant, a fireman – a existent mixing of society,” said Reynolds.

As good arsenic the parks and pleasance gardens, radical dressed to beryllium seen successful the caller java houses and astatine the theatre. “This is wherever you get caller fashions spreading.”

Aprons, worn arsenic protective items by moving women, became a benignant item. “They became elegant, possibly made from lace. Even Queen Charlotte wore an apron. You commencement to spot trends moving up, alternatively than trickling down,” said Reynolds.

“On the street, men commencement to deterioration a benignant of overgarment known arsenic the frock coat, characterised by having a small turn-down collar, and really derived from labourers’ clothing. Whereas astatine tribunal you’d person to transportation connected wearing a overgarment with a stand-up collar.”

Outsize dress
The accumulation includes examples of apparel worn successful the royal courts. Photograph: Royal Collection Trust

By the extremity of the 18th century, women’s covering was overmuch little structured. A caller fabric, cotton, began to beryllium wide used. “You’ve got a benignant of formal known arsenic a chemise dress, which was initially criticised due to the fact that it looked similar women’s undergarments. They were successful a overmuch much comfortable, washable fabric, worn by everyone from maidservants to princesses.”

The accumulation besides explores advances successful haircare, cosmetics, eyewear and dentistry, the commencement of a specialised manner press, and the improvement of buying arsenic a leisure activity.

Style & Society: Dressing the Georgians is astatine the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, from 21 April until 8 October.

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