By Clare Haru Crowston
"Fabricating ladies" examines the social establishment of the seamstresses’ guild in France from the time of Louis XIV to the Revolution. by contrast with prior scholarship on girls and gender within the early glossy interval, Clare Haru Crowston asserts that the increase of absolutely the nation, with its centralizing and unifying developments, may perhaps really bring up women’s monetary, social, and criminal possibilities and make allowance them to thrive in company organisations equivalent to the guild. but Crowston additionally unearths paradoxical outcomes of the guild’s luck, akin to how its starting to be club and visibility finally fostered an essentialized femininity that was once tied to model and appearances.
Situating the seamstresses’ guild as either an fiscal and political establishment, Crowston explores specifically its dating with the all-male tailors’ guild, which had ruled the garments fabrication alternate in France until eventually ladies challenged this monopoly in the course of the 17th century. Combining archival facts with visible pictures, technical literature, philosophical treatises, and model journals, she additionally investigates the recommendations the seamstresses used to make and promote garments, how the clothes mirrored and formed glossy conceptions of femininity, and guild officers’ interactions with royal and municipal professionals. eventually, by means of supplying a revealing portrait of those women’s inner most lives—explaining, for example, what percentage seamstresses went past conventional girl barriers by means of deciding upon to stay unmarried and determine their very own households—Crowston demanding situations latest rules approximately women’s paintings and family members in early glossy Europe.
Although garments lay on the middle of French financial construction, social contrast, and cultural id, Fabricating Women is the 1st publication to enquire this mammoth and archetypal girl guild extensive. will probably be welcomed by way of scholars and students of French and ecu heritage, women’s and hard work background, style and expertise, and early sleek political economic climate.
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Additional info for Fabricating Women: The Seamstresses of Old Regime France, 1675–1791
If, for example, the rules regarding male and female attire at the court of Versailles were intended to ensure the visual prestige and honor of the absolutist monarchy, courtiers could exploit nuances within the established code to express their greater attachment to or alienation from the king. A circle of young aristocrats thus expressed their frustration with the tradition-bound court of the aging Louis XIV with an exaggeratedly fashionable, foppish way of dressing. 9 It is also doubtful that any society harbors a unitary clothing system that is transparent and meaningful to all its members in the same way.
26 A closer look at the garments produced by seamstresses reveals that this development more likely took place between the 1670s and 1700, suggesting that crucial changes in mentalities and attitudes may have occurred a century earlier than Roche and others have argued. More profoundly, the seamstresses also underline the constant interrelation between production and consumption. The very deﬁnition of their trade identiﬁed female producers of clothing with the female consumers who purchased and wore it.
24 Women usually wore the dress skirt open in the front to reveal a matching underskirt. The bodice with trained skirt and matching underskirt together formed the habit, which was called a grand habit when made for wear at court. 25 Reinforced by numerous strips of whalebone and tightly laced down the back, the dress bodice held the spine erect, pulled the shoulders back, compressed the stomach and the waist, and molded the breasts. Cut low over the chest and shoulders, it did not serve to hide the woman’s body, but to impose a rigid silhouette on it.
Fabricating Women: The Seamstresses of Old Regime France, 1675–1791 by Clare Haru Crowston