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Here is a great example of how fashion works, in a painting by Boilly. The painting shows the crowd at the Louvre viewing David’s famous painting of Napoleon’s coronation. Napoleon is making his famously egotistical and blasphemous gesture of crowning the Empress Josephine himself—although he had forced the elderly Pope to come all the way from Rome to Paris for it. Josephine is dressed in grand robes, but every woman in the crowd viewing the painting of her is wearing the fashion that she (and her friends, the other ‘Merveilleuses’) had popularized: the high-waisted simple cotton chemise dress, worn without a corset and with hardly any petticoats (by the standards of the time).


This style was considered scandalously revealing and dangerously insubstantial at the time, and French women wore shawls to cover up—whereas in England, where these dresses also became popular, they wore jackets (as American viewers will know from movie adaptations of Jane Austen novels). In any case, this is a perfect example of a common way fashions form: a star of some kind starts dressing a certain way, and then the style spreads through society. #fashion #beauty #arthistory#culture #newyorkcityart #womeninhistory take the Fashion & Beauty tour >>

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