For the Season of Fashion and Horses

Posted in on site by Editor on May 6, 2011

The following piece, “Hats, Horses, and History,” by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell on the conjunction of sartorial and equestrian displays at Longchamp appears at WornThrough — as posted by Heather Vaughan. Thanks to Kimberly for passing it along . . . -CH.

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I’m pleased to be able to share with you, this guest post by Dr. Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell. She is an independent fashion and textile historian and occasional contributor to WornThrough. Her work on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century French fashion has also appeared in Costume, Textile History, PieceWork, and Dress, as well as in several books and exhibition catalogs, most recently Paris: Life & Luxury in the Eighteenth Century (Getty Publications, May 17, 2011).

Nouvelle Robe dite la Longchamps retroussee avec des noeuds damour et des galands: 1779, Gallerie des Modes, Desrais, Dupin, via Museum of London.

Before Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones, before Royal Ascot and the Kentucky Derby, and even before the sport of horseracing itself, there was the promenade de Longchamp, a three-day spectacle of fashion and horseflesh. The modern-day romance between outlandish hats and world-class horsemanship has its roots in this eighteenth-century Parisian ritual, as does the American tradition of the “Easter Parade.”

About four miles from central Paris, in the Bois de Boulogne, lay the medieval village of Longchamp. Since 1256, it had been home to a convent that served as a popular destination for pilgrims for hundreds of years before the phenomenon known as the promenade de Longchamp began in the late seventeenth century.

The promenade was not an authorized religious pilgrimage, but a spontaneous, secular one, taking place on the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday before Easter—the final days of Lent. Musical members of high society began to make the annual trip to Longchamp in the seventeenth century, drawn by the convent’s sung Holy Week services. By the mid-1700s, the sleepy village in the woods had become the epicenter of French society,
if only for a few days each year. . . .

The full article (including a reading list) is available here»

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