World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Sack-back gown

Article Id: WHEBN0018741319
Reproduction Date:

Title: Sack-back gown  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Categories for discussion/Log/2013 March 16, 1700–50 in Western fashion, Train (clothing), Polonaise (clothing), 1775–95 in Western fashion
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Sack-back gown

Robe à la française, France, block-printed cotton, c. 1770. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) M.2007.211.718

The sack-back gown or robe à la française was a women's fashion of the 18th century. At the beginning of the century, the sack-back gown was a very informal style of dress. At its most informal, it was unfitted both front and back and called a sacque, contouche, or robe battante. By the 1770s the sack-back gown was second only to court dress in its formality. This style of gown had fabric at the back arranged in box pleats which fell loose from the shoulder to the floor with a slight train. In front, the gown was open, showing off a decorative stomacher and petticoat. It would have been worn with a wide square hoop or panniers under the petticoat. Scalloped ruffles often trimmed elbow-length sleeves, which were worn with separate frills called engageantes.

The loose box pleats which are a feature of this style are sometimes called Watteau pleats from their appearance in the paintings of Antoine Watteau.[1] The various Watteau terms, such as Watteau pleat, Watteau back, Watteau gown etc., date from the mid-19th century rather than reflecting authentic 18th century terminology, and normally describe 19th and 20th century revivals of the sack-back.[2]

Notable wearers

A popular story, traced back to the correspondence of Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans, Duchess d'Orléans, is that the earliest form of the sack-back gown, the robe battante, was invented as maternity clothing in the 1670s by Louis XIV's mistress to conceal her clandestine pregnancies. However people would comment: "Madame de Montespan has put on her robe battante, therefore she must be pregnant."[3] A similar story is associated with Marie Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans, Duchess of Berry, who during the French Regency of 1715-1723 was known for wearing this style of gown which showcased her bosom and face whilst, as with Madame de Montespan, disguising illicit pregnancies.[4]


18th century

Post-18th century revival styles

See also


  1. ^ Kimberley Chrisman-Campbell (2011). Linda Welters; Abby Lillethun, ed. : The Fashion ReaderFrom Baroque Elegance to the French Revolution 1700-1790 (2nd ed.). Berg. p. 38.  
  2. ^ Valerie Steele; C.W. Cunnington, Phillis Cunnington (2010). The Dictionary of Fashion History. Berg. p. 222.  
  3. ^ Duchess of Orleans, Elizabeth Charlotte (1824). Secret memoirs of the court of Louis xiv, and of the regency; extracted from the German correspondence of the duchess of Orleans. p. 110. 
  4. ^ Philippe Erlanger, Le Régent, Paris, Gallimard, 1966 (1st ed. 1938), pp. 227-228


  • Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen's dresses & their construction c. 1660–1860. Drama Publishers, 1977. ISBN 0-89676-026-X
  • Burnston, Sharon Ann. Fitting and Proper: 18th Century Clothing from the Collection of the Chester County Historical Society. Scurlock Pub Co, 2000. ISBN 1-880655-10-1
  • Hart, Avril, and Susan North. Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Fashion in Detail. V&A Publishing, 2009. ISBN 1-85177-567-6
  • Jackson, Anna (ed.) (2001). V&A: A Hundred Highlights. V&A Publications. 
  • Ribeiro, Aileen: The Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France 1750–1820, Yale University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-300-06287-7
  • Ribeiro, Aileen: Dress in Eighteenth Century Europe 1715–1789, Yale University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-300-09151-6

External links

  • 18th Century Robes à la Française
  • How to Make a Contouche, also known as sack back dress, saque, or robe à la française
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.