Sunday, 2 June 2019

The Robe Battante

The Robe Battante is an early version of the robe à la Française but a considerably more comfortable one than the tightly laced ones later favoured by Versailles. It was cut in the same fashion; hanging from the shoulders in pleats. However, a robe battante was unfitted both at the front and at the back - therefore, it was far more informal than a fitted one. In the early part of the 18th century the robe battante was popular as a maternity gown particularly because the stomach could easier be concealed - although the stomacher could still be visible. This was a matter of taste. It was not necessarily cut completely open but could be fastened with buttons or even sewn up for a more modest look.

When the style was still new, it was considered to give the wearer a look of innocence. For that reason it was sometimes nicknamed the "innocente".

Nevertheless, a corset was usually worn beneath it to keep an upright posture. In the case of pregnancy it could be dropped but it was often a matter of formality. Once Louis XV reached his majority, it was always worn with a corset. From around 1718, another piece of clothing was added to the ensemble: the pannier. The result was that the silhouette became even more bell-like.

Some claimed that Madame de Maintenon had created the gown partially because it suited her extraordinarily well and partially due to her frequent pregnancies by the king. It was said that she intended to hide her condition but it soon became almost an official symbol of her being pregnant. As Madame Palatine said: "Madame de Maintenon has put on her robe battante, so she must be pregnant".

Madame de Maintenon's legacy would be carried on by her grand-daughter, the Duchesse de Berri, whose scandalous lifestyle resulted in many pregnancies outside marriage. Even after, the Duchesse's premature death, the robe battante continued to be fashionable during the 1720's - 1740's.

Those who could afford it - like Montespan or the Duchesse de Berri - had their robe battantes made from silk or muslin. Because the stomacher was still on display, it was often made all the more elaborate. It can easily be imagined that some sought to outweigh the simplicity of the gown with a lavish stomacher.

Robe volante

Note that the robe battante is very similar to a robe volante.

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