Monday, 6 February 2017

Robe à la Turque

By the late 18th century - particularly in the 1780's - the upper classes were fascinated by the exotic Turkish influences. This can easily be seen by the popularity of the "Turkish"-rooms which became a must in the fashionable circles; Marie Antoinette and the Comte d'Artois both had one. As for the robe à la Turque it is rather hard to describe since little is said of it despite its popularity. According to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston the style first appeared in July 1779.

The robe à la Turque was distinguished by having the upper skirts (or manteau) being of a different colour than the petticoat, sleeves and bodice/corsage. This upper skirt would often be longer than the petticoat which caused it to trail the ground. As such it was not uncommon for the upper skirts and the attached short sleeves were often not sewn together with the remaining dress - but in some cases they were. Nevertheless, the overdress was cut in one piece of fabric.
The sleeves were worn long in opposition to the quarter length sleeves of the robe à la Francaise or the robe à l'Anglaise.

It was quite common to wear a robe à la Turque with a sash around the waist. Otherwise the front resembled that of a robe à l'Anglaise with the fitted bodice forming a triangle. What makes the robe à la Turque hard to identify is the variations. Some had longer sleeves than others while some did not necessarily have a sash.

Billedresultat for robe a la turque
Henriette Anne d'Aguesseau wearing a
robe à la Turque, 1789
Billedresultat for robe a la turque
Self-portrait by Rose-Adélaide Ducreux
Un projet de plus : Robe à la turque d'hiver
Robe à la Turque as seen on a fashion plate
Billedresultat for robe a la turque
This fashion plate clearly shows the difference
between the upper skirts and the petticoat


  1. I believe that the first image you placed, 'Elisabeth Vigée le Brun' is actually a portrait of Henriette Anne Louise d'Aguesseau, the mother of Adrienne de La Fayette. Le brun is the painter, not the subject.

    1. I did a little research on the portrait and it would seem that you are right! Madame Vigée le Brun painted it in 1789, so the original source I found must have been mistaken. Thank you for pointing it out :)