10. Ahead of the Revolution

revolutionWhen wigs were reduced to only a few curls, the tricorne returned to be worn and the nostalgic continued to use it even when fashion proposed the redingote; a short coat also named “frock coat” and worn over culotte trousers. The year was 1780.

Common people preferred the bicorne with the brim fastened by a broach. 1789 was approaching and it would mark the great social, political and cultural upheavals that originated in France and spread through all of Europe, including the Italian states.

Once the wigs and silk outfits had been thrown out, revolutionary leaders wore austere redingotes without embroidery or lace and the Phrygian cap, which in time became the Jacobin emblem. The style was “sans culottes”: long trousers, short double-breasted vests, and a “Carmagnola” jacket that was brought to Marseilles by Piedmontese workers. The felt bicorne, with a larger brim and golden braided trim, returned to be part of more decorous and sober clothing characterizing the middle class’s reaction to the post Rein of Terror, this reaction was represented by the Directory.

french revolutionIt was worn with one end on the forehead and the other on the nape of the neck until Napoleon turned the tips to the sides. The French revolution was over, but the hat had yet to begin its biggest transformation where it would be seen as protagonist of 19th Century art and culture, as well as being part of the economic evolution from handcrafting to the large scale production of the 20th Century.

The so called felt “top” hat, with curled lateral brim and a bowed conical shape, appeared on the heads of the new wealthy and anticipated the cylindrical form that was soon to invade the world.

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