In the 17th century France became the undisputed leader of European style. The modern fashion industry is rooted in France, Paris of the 1670s, when new fashion journals and boutiques promoted seasons, looks and novelty as drivers of change. This process is sinonymous with King Louis XIV, who reigned from 1643 to 1715, but also with the influence of his finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, who funded state sponsorship of the textile industry, conducted Louis's wars, and created the wealth that the king and his courtiers wore on their backs. Colbert himself was rarely seen out of black and seemed a reflection of the glorious king as seen in the painting of Henri Testelin from 1667.
King and his clothes reflect the power, grandeur and wealth of the monarchy. Meanwhile the king's finance minister, Colbert - dressed in black - wears a lace collar and cuffs. The son of a draper, Colbert understood the allure of luxury products, such as silk, tapestry and become the centre of fashionable luxury consumption. The Gobelins tapestry workshop in Paris weaved portraits of Louis's feats for the palace at Versailles and created furnishings for chateaux across France. Traders of luxury accessories and jewels were encouraged to establish shops in the newly built royal squares of Paris. Lace workshops were established in Alençon in 1665 and their output included lace accessories and lace ornaments. These high-quality materials became required trimming for all formal court dress.
Court dress achieved an unparalleled level of splendour and from 1661 to 1789 made France the model for other European monarchies. Access to the French court was theoretically open to all subjects, but one had to be properly attired. For occasions such as coronations, marriages and balls, this meant wearing the grand habit (as you can see in the picture above) that was the pinnacle of sumpturay clothing, displaying the wealth and status of both - the wearer and the state that produced it.
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My name is Edīte Parute and I am a fashion historian and researcher from Latvia, association member at "The Association of Dress Historians" (UK) and author of the book "Stila un modes enciklopēdija"/"Encyclopedia of Style and Fashion" (2010) as well as author of many publications.