Clothing in Slovakia influenced by rococo good taste (forties up to nineties of 18th century)

Faraway from fashion centre. French fashion at the Hapsburgs court and in manor houses in Slovakia

At the beginning of the 18th century it comes to gradual alteration of good taste at the European monarchical courts. France plays first fiddle which became a pattern of life style for the whole European aristocracy during the reign of Luis the XIV. The France became the greatest producer of quality silk fabrics that began to vary patterns under influence of Orientalisms especially chinoiserie. Dominance of laces and ribbons persisted on menswear also womenswear. Change in clothing happened not only by means of fabrics but also of new silhouette. This acquired a monumental character in spite of such thing that in woman´s wardrobe a chart of subtitle waist and voluminous skirt persisted and the clothing started to be sewn by other cuts. The skirt delivered robustness to the whole silhouette under which a wicker construction, an underskirt was dressed: in period terminology a panier (Fr.), there is a notion of Reifrock (Germ.) in archival resources from territory in Slovakia.  Women acted like if they have been set on voluminous pedestal. Around 1745 it comes to further change which has caused other form of skirt: it began to be formed distinctively into hips; in extreme case this ellipse had, in ground plan, a diameter up to two metres. Overexposed horizontal silhouette acted very stylish and strikingly. Theatricality of this clothing has been multiplied also by a liking in using of grey wigs, in the first place in small hairdos; after 1745 in high hairstyles. Special aesthetical standard, which had laid the grey-haired wigs on the peak of period elegancy, was valid also for men.

New changes have been followed also by high Hungarian aristocracy holding high authorities at the Hapsburgs court. But they were pattern also for pettier Hungarian nobility inhabiting territory of Slovakia, especially for woman. In spite of this that Hungarian clothing was constantly a favourite type of clothing new French trends became a standard for life style of nobility.

Change in taste came slowly onto Vienna court. Mária Terézia alone began to wear a new arrangement of her head after wedding with František Štefan Lotrinský but she was not tempted by a new design of dress. Period portraits show that robe à la française, the most typical rococo robe, was worn only by her daughters. This one was called Franzözischer Sack.  Fashion in Vienna at court during the reign of Mária Terézia and Joseph II has not even reached such unprecedented vagaries like at French royal court. The Hapsburgs, though they worn expensive and luxury dresses, they avoided extravagance. Daughter of Mária Terézia, Mária Antoinetta could not afford such fashion mischievousness at emperor´s court in Vienna as there in Versailles.

Wives of Hungarian noblemen took pleasure not only in this type of dress and in white wigs but also in new type of textile jewels which they worn as necklaces and plenty of cuffs (Fr. engageantes). Sleeves of lady´s dresses were distinctively shortened up to elbows and they have been overlapped just by these well-marked lace cuffs. They dressed them even to the Hungarian clothing which remained unchanged in its composition from Renaissance. Its silhouette has been adapted by them also according to the period one and such way that they gave themselves also the voluminous underskirt into hips under skirt (fig. 1).

Coat, waistcoat and trousers á la française were worn in men´s wardrobe of Hungarian noblemen. The trousers were narrowed from the thirties; the coat had less voluminous tails in back side in direction from waist; sleeves were narrowed and the cuff was shortened (fig. 2). The waistcoat and the coat were sewed of silky fabrics patterned by new modern patterns sometimes they were completed also by embroidery with gold and silver threads or they were decorated by distinctive “pramar´s” lacings. Their expensiveness has been completed yet by distinctive buttons on the waistcoat, coat, cuffs also pockets. Rich laced jabot (ruffles) and cuffs completed the men´s robe. A big three-cornered hat was constantly worn. Coloured or white knitwear knee socks have been completed by small light shoes on heels or by high boots for horse riding. This type of clothing has been enlarged at the court where it was worn also by Hungarian noblemen. They preferred constantly the Hungarian clothing for current life in their residences in Slovakia. In portrait creation we can see that the Hungarian aristocrats and noblemen had themselves in both types of clothing portrayed.

They were inspired by Hungarian clothing not only at Vienna Hapsburg´s court in regulations for hussar´s and “honvéd´s” uniforms, thus in many cases we saw on the portraits of soldiers in uniforms reminding the Hungarian clothing. Especially they remind it by decorative buttoning as on decorative waistcoats, by bordering with fur, by embroidery on front also back side of trousers, also on hips of calves, by fur cap but also by arranged way of wearing of decorative waistcoat thrown-over shoulders (fig. 3).

The Hungarian clothing ceases to have such political pathos in the 2nd half of the 18th century than in previous century. It is connected also with such fact that many Hungarian magnates got accustomed to the Hapsburgs at the Hungarian court; many of them have been directly engaged in various authorities. The Hungarian clothing acquires a character of ceremonial clothes for extraordinary occasions. It is put-on even by aristocrats from Hapsburg´s house as coronation solemn costume. Mária Terézia alone accepted on her head the Hungarian crown in this type of clothing in 1741 in St. Martin´s Cathedral.

Townspeople in German and Hungarian ways

Inhabitants living in towns got dressed particularly according to ethnic affiliation either in German way or in Hungarian one. The marking is period designation according to archival records for example of tailor´s guilds. It was bound to man´s clothing but also to woman´s one in towns. The townspeople of Slovak origin chose from these two possibilities. Difference between townswomen and noblewomen has been unambiguous because townswomen could not wear long skirts so the skirts reached to them ankle-deep. They did not wear dresses but multi-part completes for example skirt with jacket or skirt with shirt and bodice. They worn also constantly apron with liking (fig. 4).

In caste aristocratic regime each inhabitant knew which class he came from and until they have been raised to a noble rank they got not dressed like noblemen. The eighteenth century was the last period when lordship´s ordinances were given determining what cannot be worn by townspeople. The clothing of townsmen had to be manufactured of simpler and cheaper textile materials; the silk belonged only to nobility they could not wear gold and silver and some kinds of furs. Just the material usage was causing that townsman´s clothing acted more simply and abstemiously although it has been from equal or similar cuts as the nobleman´s one.