Textiles & Costume


Louis XIV’s favourite colour was flame, an orangish-red which worked well with his self designated title of ‘The Sun King’.  Louis wore it frequently.

Maria Theresa is handed over to the French and her husband by proxy, Louis XIV on the Isle of Pheasants

The French court was all about gaining the kings favour, and a good way to become his favourite was to wear his favourite colour, thus it’s frequently seen in garments and trimmings in 17th and early 18th century portraits.

Women wore it in ribbons and feathers:

La Grande Mademoiselle, Anne Marie Louise d'Orleans Duchesse de Montpensier by Louis Ferdinand Elle, 1640

Portrait of Françoise-Marguerite de Sevigne, Comtesse de Grignan attributed to Pierre Mignard

La Grande Mademoiselle, Anne Marie Louise d'Orleans Duchesse de Montpensier by Louis Ferdinand Elle ca. 1650

Or wrapped around their body in wraps:

Henrietta of England, Duchess of Orleans, oil on canvas, châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon, studio of the Beaubrun brothers

Men wore it as bows around their neck:

Louis Charles de Levis, Pierre Mignard, 1675

Or as sashes tied around their torsos:

Antoine Nompar de Caumont, duc de Lauzun by Alexis Simon Belle

Whole interiors were done in it, and family groups wore it as jackets and robes:

Louis of France, Grand Dauphin, and his wife Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria with their three sons- Louis, Petit Dauphin, Philippe (later King Felipe V of Spain) and Charles, Duke of Berry by Pierre Mignard 1687

If you didn’t like flame, but still wanted to kiss up to the king, inflicting it on your children in large quantities was always an option.

They could wear it as historical fantasy dress:

A young Mademoiselle de Blois, Marie-Anne de Bourbon, daughter of Louis XIV and Louise de La Vallière, by Pierre Mignard

Or pseudo-classical short clothes:

Élisabeth (Isabelle) d'Orleans, Duchess of Guise with her son by Mignard, 1672

Or stiff, old fashioned dresses with flame rosettes:

Elisabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate displayed with her two children Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orleans, (future Duchess of Lorraine) and Philippe d'Orleans, (future Regent and Duke of Orleans) by Pierre Mignard

Even Louis’ neglected wife and his kids wore the colour:

Maria Theresa of Austria (1638-1683) and the Grand Dauphin (1661-1711) by Charles Beaubrun, 1665

Yep.  Mid 17th century France was aflame.


    • You are welcome! I love this sort of historical detail too, because it must have been so much of everyday life for people at the time, just like we all recognise certain designer labels and styles.

  1. Hi, could you tell me where you found the image of that first portrait of La Grande Mademoiselle (the one with the fabulous hat)? I wrote my thesis on her and I’ve never seen that portrait before. Merci!

    • Hi Donna, I found that image on the Wikimedia commons page for Louis Ferdinand Elle. I’ve also seen it featured in books on Louis XIV, Versailles, and 17th century fashion, though I can’t remember which one at the moment!

      Her headdress is pretty spectacular isn’t it? The ostrich feather usage in 17th century France must have been phenomenal!

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