How This Jaw-Dropping 1700s Dress Changed French Fashion

Erin Fitzpatrick

It’s a bold claim to call a dress style a “French revolution,” but we think you’ll be convinced when you hear why this frock deserves that moniker. NPR took an in-depth look at a rare 1700s dress that was just purchased for over $150,000 USD. Per NPR, the dress style is known as a “robe volante,” or “flying dress,” which signalled the shift from the rigid, corseted looks of Louis XIV’s court to looser silhouettes.

“By the end of the 17th century, the formality began to wear thin and the magnificence became a burden,” NPR writes. “And so a fashion revolution was born: Down with the corsets and cages! Up with the robe volante! Full and comfy, in fancy fabrics or simple cottons, everyone could wear it—and they did. The ‘revolutionaries’ were young women of the court, merchants, and dressmakers; the robe became a social leveler.”

Head over to NPR to learn more about the significance of the dress, including a history lesson from French cultural historian Joan de Jean.

Scroll down to see the dress NPR describes as a “French revolution.”

What are your thoughts on the story behind this dress? Tell us in the comments below, and if you want to learn more about fashion history, buy Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style on Amazon!

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