Above a glove from 1590. The major historic collections of fashion come from European courts. The best fashion of the 16th & 17th century was tailored formal wear. By contrast lower classes were given simple cotton, solid clothing in payment for their services. Below 16th century European examples.
Above Louis XIV was well known for his love of luxury and fashion, especially diamonds and shoes. Cosmetics and perfumes were also popularized during his era. Below the reign of Louis XVI began in 1774 with the official portrait left, and his wife Marie Antoinette's bedroom in Versailles is shown at right.
Below the look of the French court in 1765 changed little to 1775 on the right. The main differences are more embellishment on fabric, narrowing of the hips and the addition of the pouf by Marie Antoinette.
The courts were an international network of power, connected to one another through trade, marriages and social events. Above a Swedish royal court dress from the 1770's and below Marie Antoinette's court, 1770's.
Above the French journal Mecure Galant gave aristocracy insider information on aristocratic society and style and featured regular fashion sketches. Below a journal of poufs and hairstyles from 1777.
In support of a French victory, Marie Antoinette added a boat to her pouf in what the public considered an ostentatious and wasteful gesture, 1778.
After the revolution, fashion become more democratic and there was an increase in journals and magazines, described in the article below on "Repackaging Rousseau." The 19th century was a moment of industrial revolution and more availability in fabrics. There was a greater diversity in style. Below left a child's dress of 1865 and right a cape from 1895.
Above a vintage couture design by Charles Frederick Worth from 1888. Below left female designers Jeanne Lanvin from 1924 and right Madeleine Vionnet, 1933.
Above Chanel evening gowns from 1933 & 1939. Below Chanel couture from 1964. Chanel was best known for her soft form jersey suits, along with the sleeveless evening dress, quilted accessories and costume jewlery.
Below, Coco's last collection in 1971.