The Aesthetics of the Exotic

in British Fashion

During the Eighteenth Century

Fashion has surrounded us since that fateful day in the Garden of Eden. Between that time and the present, clothing trends have faded in and out of existence. However, the period that is now considered one of the most revolutionary in women's dress didn't beginuntil the end of the 18th century. It was at this time that fashionable women in France and England began to show an interest in the textiles of far-away places. As their husbands began to travel more frequently, and trade routes opened between Europe, India, and the Orient, women had innumerable new sources from which to draw inspiration.

Circa 1745 (10)

(Milan lace with baroque-style embroidery;the fantasy motif incorporated in the dress is part of the rococo tradition)

While the era began with the thrust of Rococo, it ended with Neoclassicism. During the span of one person's lifetime, women's formal wear experienced a 180 degree revolution. So what was happening; what were the turning points?? The timeline below outlines major dates in the stormy fashion scene, beginning with the late 1600's, and ending with the French Revolution (4-6, 10, 11).