Regency Era Fashion Chit-Chat - December 1818 La Belle Assemblee
General Observations on Fashions and Dress
The stagnation that prevailed for several weeks in the motley regions of Fashion's extensive empire, showed that we were, in a great measure, prepared for an event which was almost to be desired by the friends of the Royal sufferer, as a sure relief from the anguish she endured, and the certain conviction that virtue meets its reward in heaven, and which reflection makes us submit with resignation to its unerring will.
Fashion is the power which is generally arrayed in the varied robe of Iris, and to whom is consecrated -
-----"the dimpled smiles,
"Such as glow on Hebe's cheek."
Health and youth light their torches at her fane, and the solemn pomp of woe suits not with her varied votaries. Yet, as is presaging this dire event, never, even in the ancient courts of Spain and Portugal, was black so prevalent as it has been for this last fortnight, both for the evening costume and for the promenade. Black satin and black velvet spensers have become almost universal among the higher classes for the morning walk.
Among the bonnets, on the present mournful occasion, we have been favoured with the sight of one made by Mrs. Bell for a lady of high rank: it is of transparent black crape, very large, and ornamented at the edge by a full cheveaux de-frize trimming: a superb cluster of the blossom called honesty, is laid in a kind of studied negligence between the crown and the brim; emblematic of the honest grief of a British bosom for the consort of him they still revere; while they bless for ever the generous heir apparent who, possessed of all the dear affections of nature, has shewn such unremitting and dutiful attention to his late venerable mother. A black velvet college cap, with a plume of cypress feathers, is in high favour; and a large black satin bonnet for mornig walks, trimmed with folds of crape, is much in requisition.
A new Scottish toque is much worn for paying morning visits, or for friendly dinner partes; it is composed of crape and black satin, with laurel leaves affixed on the left side, of the same materials. A dress cornette is, however, more prevalent on the above occasions. It is formed of white crape, and ornamented in front with a full half wreath of black crape flowers: the crown terminates loosely behind, and is formed of black crape: there is a taste and fancy in this head-dress which confer high honour on the invention of Mrs. Bell. An evening toque of black velvet, trimmed with rows of jet, dividing the crown from the head-piece, is also another specimen of her unrivalled powers in the article of taste.
The bonnets are still worn very large; cypress feathers are more worn than we expected. Opera cloaks of dark grey, lined with black, are in favour at present for the general mourning, but we prophecy that they will become too common to be adopted by the higher classes, by whom they are seldom worn, except at entering the Theatres, or in the early spring and late autumnal season, in an open carriage.
N.B. Our Cabinet of Taste is unavoidably closed at present: every European court will, no doubt, adopt the "sable garb of woe" for Britain's virtuous Queen.
Court and General Mourning
The following orders of the Lord Chamberlain and the Deputy Earl Marshal, respecting the Court and General Mourning, were published in a Supplement to the London Gazette of Tuesday the 17th of November: --
"Lord Chamberlain's Office, Nov. 19.
"Orders for the Court's going into mourning on Sunday next, the 22nd inst. for her late Majesty the Queen, of blessed Memory, viz.
"The ladies to wear black bombazines, plain muslin or long lawn lines, crape hoods, chamois shoes and gloves, and crape fans.
"Undress - Dark Norwich crape.
"The gentlemen to wear black cloth, without buttons on the sleeves and pockets, plain muslin or long lawn cravats and weepers, chamois shoes and gloves, crape hatbands, and black swords and buckles.
"Undress - Dark grey frocks."
The Deputy Earl Marshal's Order for a General Mourning.
"Herald's College, Nov. 19.
"In pursuance of the commands of his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, acting in the name and on the behalf of his Majesty, these are to give public notice, that upon the present melancholy occasion of the death of her late Majesty, of blessed memory, all persons do put themselves into deep mourning.
Deputy Earl Marshal."