Riding Habit, May 1803

Journal des Dames et des Modes, Paris, May 5, 1803.

“Chapeau de Castor. Fichu Garni d’Une Fraise.”

I am especially fond of this print for the way the drapery of the skirt has such vitality and movement. The artist, who signed the print, is Carle Vernet, famous for detailed drawings of battles and campaigns to glorify Napoleon. He provided paintings for this publication through approximately 1811. His much more famous son, Horace Vernet, also a painter of battle scenes, provided this magazine with scores of watercolors for fashion prints during the 1810s. The Vernet fashion prints, from both father and son, are much prized by collectors for their liveliness and elegance. (I am fortunate to own one of Horace Vernet’s original watercolors of a walking dress.)

Though I confess I am not overly fond of the hat, I find the rest of the ensemble quite beautiful: the jacket lapels framed by rows of buttons, the full ruff collar, and the typically French long sleeves that fall well below the wrist. The skirt, as with all riding habits, is cut very full and long. Though the tailoring is quite masculine, especially  in regard to the jacket, it nevertheless is a very feminine habit.

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