A lady’s robe de chambre
Text Martin Ciszuk.
We got an e- mail from one of our customers, where she presented her last costume project made from Duran Textile historic fabrics. It is a woman’s banyan or robe de chambre, in green silk damask FLORA lined with light peach taffeta. The robe was made following an original in Victora & Albert Museum in London. This was made in the mid 18th century from an English Spitalfield silk damask, which could be attributed to the designer Anna-Maria Garthwaite. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O85965/banyan/.
These elegant robes were a part of the informal clothing for upper-class women. It was worn in the morning before getting dressed and in evening before going to bed, but also at daytime at home when receiving friends and being with the family. There were different levels of informal wear in the mid 18th century. At home a noble lady could appear “undressed” –dèshabillé- in bed jacket or banyan, but if she went outside she had to be at least “half dressed” –negligee- wearing jacket and petticoat - a style which was used by lower classes, but in simpler material. Evening and formal receptions required full dress – pannier, silk robes, powdered coiffure and plumes. The formal costume was complicated to dress and to wear, with hard laced stays, hoop skirst and heavy silks, so many women preferred to stay in their private rooms dressed in banyan, robe de chambre or contouche. The popular style, which had many names, was inspired from oriental garments as kimonos and kaftans. It came to influence formal fashion, particularly in the late 18th century when the favor grew for less formal clothing.
The original in Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
(Photo Victoria & Albert Museum).
Evelyne Bouchard, Quebec, Canada, who made the damask robe, is a technician in museology, specialized in the documentation and preventive conservation of costumes and textiles. She is also the founder of a reenacting group: la Société d'Histoire IN MEMORIAM www.lashim.com. Several periods are possible to the members, from the 15th century to Word War II. The reenacting group is one of a great family of 18th century groups. There are about ten of them in the province of Quebec, Canada, most of them are on the military side. The Société d'Histoire IN MEMORIAM too have a military side, but also gives a real great place for everyday life, not only the battles and camp life.
The group has made a fruitful partnership with some historical sites like Manoir Mauvide-Genest http://www.manoirmauvidegenest.com, Louisbourg http://www.pc.gc.ca/fra//lhn-nhs/ns/louisbourg/index.aspx and Maison Drouin http://www.fondationfrancoislamy.org/. These sites give them the facilities to be in buildings and reenact the life in a wealthy house in the 1750's. The green robe de chambre was made for Evelyne´s 18th century persona: a high society lady living in Nouvelle-France (the French colonies in North America). In the activities, the members of Société d'Histoire IN MEMORIAM try to live all the way: hygiene, cooking, etc. All should be as accurate as possible. All the domesticity is there and acts with the period etiquette. All members of the group have a persona: valet, chamber maid, cook, etc.” It's real and complete experimentation, nearly a form of ethnological archeology!” Evelyne expresses.
More pictures of Société d'Histoire IN MEMORIAM reenacting activities at: http://lashim.myphotoalbum.com. Many of the costumes in the pictures were created and sewn by Evelyne Bouchard. She is also making patterns for historic costume. http://www3.bell.net/louis_matte/fdl/Patterns.html
Duran Textiles thanks Evelyne for sharing her knowledge and photos with us. We are happy to see our fabrics made up so skillfully and used in these inspiring historical settings. We wish you all good luck.
Evelyne wearing a sack dress of ca 1750 in blue silk taffeta
(photo Société d'Histoire IN MEMORIAM).
Evelyne Bouchard, undressed, (in French dèshabillé), wearing her robe de chambre of silk damask FLORA (photo Société d'Histoire IN MEMORIAM).
The reconstructed woman’s banyan green silk damask FLORA (photo Société d'Histoire IN MEMORIAM).
The robe is lined with light peach silk taffeta (photo Société d'Histoire IN MEMORIAM).
The reconstructed robe de chambre. For informal wear a low coiffure is used, covered by a lace bonnet (photo Société d'Histoire IN MEMORIAM).
Detail of the back. The kimono cut without the sleeve or shoulder seam is fitted with pleats which give the robe an elegant shape (photo Société d'Histoire IN MEMORIAM).