Thursday, 18 August 2016

Look-Book: Robe de la Polonaise

Look Book: Robes à la Francaise


Look-Book: Justaucorps

1740 -
Quite possibly a justaucorps à brevet


17th century

Late 17th century

House of Cossé-Brissac

The house had its roots in Maine but later relocated to Anjou and could be traced back to 1492. Charles II de Cossé-Brissac was elevated to the rank of Duc de Brissac (previously Comte de Brissac) in 1611 and accompanied Louis XIII on his way to meet Anne of Austria for the first time. The son, grandson and great-grandson of Charles II both carried the title but since the grandson, Henri-Albert, died without issue it was transferred to Henri-Albert's cousin, Artus Timéleon Louis.

Incredibly, the family managed to keep the title alive through cousins and siblings since some died without heirs. The family also managed to stay in power during the empire of the Napoleons where they were somewhat restored but had to "make due" with the title of Marquis de Brissac - that was eventually raised again. From what I have been able to find out the last member died in 2001!

Titles held by the House of Cossé-Brissac:
Duc de Brissac
Duc de Cossé
Marquis de Thouracé

Special honours and notes:

  • Grand Pannetier de France (Jean Paul Timéleon)
  • Governor of Paris (Charles II and Louis Hercule)
  • Commander of the Hundred Swiss Soldiers (Louis Hercule)
  • Louis Hercule was assassinated by the revolutionary mob in 1792. He was beheaded (not by guillotine though) and his head was put on a stake and placed outside the home of Madame du Barry.

Image gallery:

Portrait équestre du maréchal de Cossé-Brissac
Charles II -
first Duc de Brissac

Jean Paul Timéleon

Louis Hercule Timéleon

Emmanuel-Timéleon -

Wednesday, 17 August 2016


The justaucorp existed during the entire ancien regime at Versailles as one of the foundations of male fashion. Basically, the justaucorp is the overcoat worn over breeches and a waistcoat. It has often been compared to a frock coat but this is not quite correct since the frock coat is less ornate and more subdued in both silhouette and execution.

It is one of the only articles of the male silhouette to change noticeably during this period. For convenience sake let us take a look at the development:

Second half of the 17th century:
The justaucorp had slowly replaced the doublet. There was no collar and the justaucorps reached the calf. It had buttons all the way down the front but was usually only buttoned at the neck which created an inverted V-shape. The "skirt" of the justaucorp - from the waist down - took after the female counterpart and was stiffened off with whalebone or a like material. It was often equipped with deep pockets but these were placed so low on the coat that the wearer could hardly use them. However, they were immensely decorated. The fabrics reflected the class which typically wore them; the nobility used heavy damask fabrics, silks, brocade and wool. The justaucorps were often distinguishable with their large cuffs which were folded back.

First half of the 18th century:
The pockets had by now moved up to where they could actually be reached and the cuffs no longer folded back. The "skirts" reached their zenith in size which was made possible by only having buttons to waist and leaving the skirt pleats wide. To highlight the wider skirt the opening was rounded rather than being in a reversed V-shape. 

Second half of the 18th century:
The justaucorp was now far more fitted to the wearer's body and only reached just below the hips (not a far cry from today's tuxedo-jackets). This slimming of the silhouette was largely due to developments in the military's uniforms which became a great deal better fitted - as it happens the justaucorp had made its way into high society through the army's influence. Velvet had become a popular fabric but silk and damask were still the favourites among the gentlemen at court. By this point the exquisite embroidery were very much the focus-point of a man's court outfit.
It was no longer referred to as a justaucorp per say since it was now an integrated part of the habit.

Throughout these periods both embroidery and precious buttons were used to decorate the attire. The embroideries of men's fashion is by no means less extravagant than their ladies' - it was considered a duty to dress according to rank for both men and women. Buttons, too, received their fair share of embroidery but would more often than not have precious stones attached to them.

Louis XIV attached particular meaning to a specific type of justaucorp called the justaucorp à brevet. It was characterised by being of blue colour with silver or gold embroidery and was only given to those who had accompanied the King on trips to Marly or had been granted specific permission. It was considered quite an honour to be offered such a piece of clothing but other than that it carried no rights. Louis XIV created a patent on 4 February 1665 stating that only a select few could wear this particular colour combination (blue with gold/silver trimmings) while all others were prohibited without an express permission from the King. Originally, it was to show favour to the Prince de Condé.
An example of how much of an honour it was considered is clearly seen in the memoirs of Bussy-Rabutin who overjoyed could write down that he had receive such a coat. However, the justaucorp à brevet did not last long and was even outdated before the death of Louis XIV.

BONUS: Look-book

As seen in portraits:

Friedrich Wilhelm I um 1701.jpg
Frederick I of Prussia
Luis Francisco de la Cerda
Portrait de Louis N Baron de Breteuil.jpg
Baron de Breteuil
A very young Louis XV
Elie de beaumont présumé.jpg
Presumed to be Elie de Beaumont
Carlos III, niño.jpg
Carlos III of Spain
Le Grand Condé with his son Henri Jules, Duke of Enghien (future Prince of Condé) by Claude Lefèbvre.jpg
The Grand Condé and his heir

Sunday, 14 August 2016

House of Choiseul

Tracing their roots from the region of Champagne the House of Choiseul were descendants of the Comtes of Langres. The founding head of the family was Renaud III de Choiseul who married into royalty when he in 1182 wedded Alix de Dreux, daughter of Louis VI. No less than 10 branches extend from this family as can be seen below.

As I usually do, I will focus on the family members that were alive during the period touched on by this blog. 

The foremost here is Étienne Francois, Duc de Choiseul (from the Choiseul-Beaupré branch) who rose to power due to the patronage of Madame de Pompadour. She ensured that he got first a position in Rome where he did so well that he was transferred to Vienna - the capitol of France's archenemy. Eventually, he was made Minister for Foreign Affairs but the disastrous Seven Years' War had made him unpopular and he was forced to retire. He was also one of the leading forces in setting up the marriage between Louis Auguste and Marie Antoinette.

César Gabriel de Choiseul (of the Praslin branch) is another person worth mentioning. He served as Secretary of State - officially holding the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs which was actually controlled by Étienne Francois. He would later enjoy a great deal of success as Minister for the Navy which he managed to rebuild. 

Both Etienne Francois and César Gabriel found themselves unable to continue in their positions after the death of Madame de Pompadour.

Another César, Duc de Choiseul served in the army and achieved the rank of Marèchal du Plessis-Praslin. He also went on several diplomatic tours. He gained the lasting trust of Louis XIV when he - during the Fronde - remained loyal to Anne of Austria and defended her and her sons from Turenne with a good deal of success. As a reward he was granted a number of high-ranking positions in the government of Louis XIV including Minister of State. He was also the first Choiseul to be made a Duc.

Titles held by the House of Choiseul:
Duc de Choiseul
Duc de Choiseul-Stainville
Duc de Praslin
Duc de Marmier
Marquis de Beaupré
Marquis de Francières
Comte de Chalons-sur-Marne
Baron de Quintin
Baron d'Ambonville
Baron de La Ferte
Baron de Lanques

Image gallery:

Étienne-Francois de Choiseul
César Gabriel de Choiseul-Praslin
Cardinal Antoine-Clériade de

Béatrix de Choiseul-Stainville -
Duchesse de Grammont by marriage
César de Choiseul du Plessis-Praslin
- first Duc de Choiseul

Louise Honorine,
Duchesse de Choiseul-Stainville