Rococo Fashion: History, Period & Terms

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European art was at its peak during the Rococo Fashion era. This lesson will show you how the Rococo’s motifs and ideologies were translated into fashions for men and women, as well as the social impact.

Rococo Fashion

The fashion standards have been set by the European royal courts for generations. What happened to this? The Americas saw independence movements elevate the common people above the aristocrats. Working class fashions celebrated this. The same trend was seen in Europe with the gradual rise of constitutions that challenged absolute power of monarchs. This shift was more dramatic in France than anywhere else.

At the end of 18th century, the French Revolution saw the violent defeat of the monarchy. Peasant fashions were made national. The Rococo was before this. From 1720-1789, the Rococo was a period when French aristocrats began to obsess about their wealth and finery. France was split between the wealthy ruling class and the poor peasantry. The Rococo was therefore the last truly aristocratic style in France. It was rejected by the whole aristocracy.

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Rococo Designs

The Rococo was a whole artistic movement that encompassed art, architecture and theater. Understanding the Rococo’s trends is key to understanding the role fashion plays in this world. This era was a continuation of the grand Baroque era. It featured a lot of ornamentation in order to show solemn power. The Rococo totally abandoned the Baroque’s solemnity, but maintained its focus on wealth and ornament.

Rococo Fashion designs were often elaborately ornate with intricate patterns and the best of materials. The color palettes were pastel and light, the designs were whimsical and asymmetrical and all motifs were organic. Courtly life was all about having fun and enjoying privileged wealth. Sometimes, this meant ignoring the more serious responsibilities. Aristocrats rarely had to appear in court so they spent their time on private estates hosting extravagant parties. Fashion reflected this irreverence, self-interest, and a love for all things fancy.

Rococo Fashion would be nothing without excessive ornamentation. The finery that was attached to women’s clothing became a key part of their fashion. Materials were light and refined, with a preference for pastel-colored taffeta silks. Robes and dresses were lined with fur trimmings, while organic, flowered details were added to every item. Although wigs were occasionally worn on hair, the Baroque style of a pinned-up natural hairstyle that was grey or white was often used. You’re now ready to live in aristocratic Rococo Fashion society with exquisite jewelry made of playful gold and pearl designs.


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