Saturday 15 February 2014

Analysing - robe a la circassienne

So, the robe a la circassienne.
Again, here is a link to my pinterest board that hosts both Robes a la Turque and Robes a la Circassienne. I find there are so many references on fashion plates as to what kind of style it is, with so many differences and sometimes contradictions, that I am just trying to show a few things that I think the sources I have at hand seem to have in common. Here is also a very interesting link with sources (ample!) and translations.

The robe a la Circassienne seems to have been around in the late 1770s and the  early 1780s. I haven't found an original robe (anyone can point me in the right direction here?) but there are fashion plates and paintings.

The Robe a la Circassienne again, like the Robe a la Turque, is named after a region that borders on the black sea.
Unlike the Robe a la Turque, the Circassienne seems to have the skirt part cut separate. the majority seems to be worn over some sort of corset (a long sleeved top), with back closure. There a a few that seem to close in the front, but I am not sure about the construction. Maybe it's just closed over a top.
The back seems seem to be emphasized by ribbons in contrasting colour.
The sleeves are short over either a long narrow sleeve or a very fluffy mostly white chemise like sleeve. Or a tightish sleeve with LOTS of frills.
The whole thing is VERY frilly! The more the merries, as far as I understand. It's quite mad, all in all!
The fashion plates also have in common that there is some sort of collar or very emphasized neckline.
AND a looped-up skirt (apart from one fashion plate, which also shows a dress that is unusually unfrilly).
Generally the Robe a la Circassienne reminds me a lot of Candy Floss, but there are a few examples that are a little "quieter". 

Let's have a look at some pictures, again, direct you attention towards the skirt (looped), sleeves (double layerd), neckline (lots of extras).

This is pure craziness: LEOPARD print!!! pouffy sleeves in this one.

Young Lady in a Circassienne trimmed with blonde lace, decorated with a streaked ribbon, wearing a romantic Hat and a loose, braided chignon. (1778)

Robe à la Circassienne Garnie à la Chartres: la Coëffure de meme, Avec le Tableau des Evenements, from

Gallerie des Modes et Costumes, Robe à la Circassienne, 1770's,

Young Woman Admiring a Miniature by Wille, 1778.

Galerie des Modes, 35e Cahier, 4e Figure Circassienne with bands of another color, edged with muslin. The coiffure is a cap à la Créche belted with a double row of ribbon with a bow on top of the Phisionomie. (1780)

Circassienne with a colored ground, with bands of painted fabric and a little band of pleated gauze around it; the petticoat is of another color, and the trim of the petticoat matches that of the gown. The coiffure is a hat à la Grenade. (1780). A Most Beguiling Accomplishment: Galerie des Modes

Galerie des Modes, 29e Cahier, 2e Figure New Circassienne in Italian Gauze, lined with Indian taffeta; it is trimmed in Gauze, pinched in coques with bouquets of delphiniums, the whole edged with an English Ribbon. The Coiffure is a toque: long hair surmounted with a toque à l'Espagnole, trimmed with Heron plumes and aigrettes. (1780)

Galerie des Modes, 21e Cahier, 6e Figure Taffeta circassienne with bands of ribbons, with a petticoat of another color trimmed with gauze in little box pleats, and trimmed with three large bands of different colored ribbons. (1779)

Galerie des Modes, 28e Cahier, 5e Figure Young Bourgeois Actress studying her role; she is dressed in a Circassienne, the petticoat trimmed with a band in the color of the gown: all the trims are bordered with a blonde lace, a volant of gauze at the bottom of the band on the petticoat: the sleeves trimmed with gauze. (1780) : UNUSUAL: skirt not looped up!!!

Galerie des Modes, 13e Cahier, 1e Figure This Circassienne of a new taste is of sulphur-colored gauze, the trim of soft lilac gauze; the great flounce and the band which covers the trim are of the same gauze as the gown, the base of the sabot cuffs as well; there are only bands of trim in tuyaux which are lilac, lilac ribbons, the same are in the headdress. (1778)

I hope you've enjoyed my little attempt of understanding the Robe a la Circassienne. If you have some more ideas and pictures, share them with me!


  1. Uhoh! I'm afraid my previous post got lost in the depth of the internet...if I create a double comment, please feel free to delete one :)
    Very interesting! Thank you for sharing...I suppose I'm not much of a help in that period (1770s-1780s), but "Circassian sleeves" were still mentioned and very fashionable in the early 1810s. That term described a divided sleeve cap.
    Isn't it fun perusing the journals?! :)


    1. Liebe Sabine, hast Du ein Bild eines solchen Ärmels? Dann nehm ich das nämlich auch noch mit auf, hochspannend! Modekupfer sind grossartig!
      Liebe Grüsse! Kris