The fleur de lis is the theme of this month’s fashion plates and embroidery patterns, in celebration, no doubt of the abdication of Napoleon and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in France the month before. Plate 30’s Opera Dress features fleur de lis embroidery around its bottom; hair is to be “separated on the centre of the forehead by a pearl ornament or fleur de lis.” Plate 31’s Walking Dress also features the French symbol, this time on a shawl: “White silk shawl handkerchief, the corners richly embossed with the fleur de lis.”
The “General Notes” encourage the theme: white evening dresses are “constantly attended with the fleur de lis whenever it can be introduced.” Lilac and sea green dresses are occasionally seen, too, all with the French ornament embroidered round the bottom of the dress “without exception.” And white silk shawls and scarves featuring the symbol are also “much in vogue.” No sympathizing with the French revolutionaries for Ackermann‘s readers!
This is one time where having the descriptions alongside the fashion plates themselves really helps us understand more than what the plate shows; I don’t think I would have “seen” any of the ornaments as fleur de lis without their identification in the accompanying description.
The “General Observations” notes several other fashion trends for the early summer of 1814:
• Loose sleeves, “generally carried down to the wrist, some of them continuing to be drawn four and five times down the arm, and each drawing fastened with a small bow of white satin ribband.”
• Bosoms cut less square
• Embroidery less common down the front than about the bottom of the skirt
• Long hair more fashionable than short, especially when worn “very low on the neck behind.”
• “Blücher” hats, no doubt named after the Prussian field marshal who battled Napoleon at the Battle of Nations at Leipzig in 1813
• Silver sprigged or spotted muslins, rather than silk or gossamer, for summer gowns
• Single flounces
Do you think lilies were the fashionable choice for floral decorations in English ballrooms this month?