The Regency Era and its fashion have the unique distinction of being the first time in history when people began wearing clothes that reflected those of another time. The long, narrow, high waiste white dress that is synonymous with the era was done in the “Grecian” style. Regency dresses are almost always depicted in pop culture as white or in some drab, dark color. While white was indeed the predominant fashionable color of the time, especially for formal dresses, color did indeed exist in fashion at this time! Today, we look at the surprisingly colorful dresses of the Regency Era.
This striped blue day dress is an example of how hoops began to sweep towards the back in the bustle’s predecessor. Hoops were considered fashionable because they supposedly made the waist look smaller, as if stuffing them into tiny corsets wasn’t enough!
This mid-1860's crinoline shows the type of garment that would be worn to emphasize the back. Shown here in white damask, these undergarments, like corsets, could come in a variety of colors, although colorful ones were mostly worn by wealthy women (and just maybe prostitutes). Most crinolines, however, did have a fabric covering, and were just hoops. The hoops of this particular crinoline are made of steel, but they could also be made of whalebone or wicker.
Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy was born to an old aristocratic family with long ties to the artistic and fashion world. After his father’s death from influenza, he was raised by his mother and maternal grandmother, who was an artist in charge of the Gobelins and Beauvais tapestry factories. After attending the Paris World Fair in 1937, he decided that his future lay “somewhere in fashion design.” He studied at the Ècole des Beaux Arts in Paris and later came to design for the Jacques Fath, Lucien Lelong, and Elsa Schiaparelli alongside his future contemporaries Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior. In 1952, he opened his own fashion house, becoming the youngest designer in Paris at the age of 25. A year later, he met his muse Audrey Hepburn on the set on the movie Sabrina. After that, he would design nearly all of her movie costumes, including her iconic black dress from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Givenchy officially retired from designing in 1995.