La Robe Ó l'allemande




An Actress in Berlin

When looking at portraits of the early to mid 18th century, I discovered that many ladies wore a kind of dress that is not covered in any of the costume books I have. There is lots of material on maneaux or mantuas, robes à l'anglaise, à la française, à la polonaise etc, but this one is never mentioned anywhere. It did look a bit like French court dress, but not quite... and the ladies wearing them were not necessarily of such station or depicted in such circumstances that I would expect them to be in court dress - i.e. members of the royal family..

As it appears so often German portraits but rarely in paintings from other countries (and then only on royals) I call it robe à l'allemande for want of an "official" name. The name (meaning German dress) is modeled on the terms robe à la franšaise (French dress) and robe à l'anglaise (English dress) - but mind you, I am not saying that this dress was uniquely German, or that it even deserves a name that implies such a high degree of distinctiveness as "anglaise" and "franšaise" do. Quite contrary, I'm actively trying to hunt down non-German examples to disprove me!

The silence of my sources fired up my curiosity, so decided to start a research project. What I wanted to discover was

"Minuet" by Nilson

This is an ongoing project, so these pages are subject to change every now and then, when I have learned new things. A number of kind people who were equally fascinated have sent me descriptions and pictures of garments they've seen that fit my description of the Allemande. I would like to thank all of them at this point - thank you for your kind help! If you, dear reader, have any information pertaining to this peculiar dress, please let me know!

The sub-pages which are accessible via the menu below are modeled on my questions above. Anything I say therein should be considered preliminary.


Image sources:

Nilson's "Minuet": Boehn, Max von: Der Tanz, 1925
Coronation Gown: Livrustkammaren, Stockholm. Kindly provided by Elisa
Actress in Berlin, Mme Maintenon: Thiel, Erika: Die Geschichte des Kostüms. By A. Pesne

Maria Antonia: Gemäldegalerie Alter Meister, Dresden. By A. R. Mengs
Stomacher jewelry: Residenzmuseum München
Meta Klopstok: Museum für hamburgische Geschichte, Hamburg



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