Regional French costumes

Bretagne Wedding

Traditional regional French costumes

Vintage French costumes are still traditionally worn for special fete occasions and celebrations all across the country.  New modern versions are also worn created by specialists and amatuers alike. They are really colourful and elaborate designs, showing crests of coats of arms and French emblems of every kind.  A huge range of textiles are used including cotton sacking, linen, to luxurious brocades silks and lace.   Ribbon, cord and braiding are interwoven for bodices and skirts.  Jugglers, harlequins, dwarfs and princesses are highly popular. Knights to the rescue riding on decorated horses charge the ramparts when the draw bridges are down and gallop through the streets.

Medieval times have a huge influence in the Dordogne, because of the many  Bastide villages in the area.  Every summer large displays take place nr Castles, village squares and also larger towns.

A long time is spent all the year in making elaborate costumes for both men and women and is a great opportunity for talented seamistresess who create the traditional themes using old and new patterns for the fabric.

Some  of the best known costumes are from the northern coastline of France, Britagne also from  another area,  Alsace as well as Provence in the south.  The mountains of the Pyrenees bring more spectacular styles.

Collecting starts now! We cannot begin to  get costumes from them all but we will try over time.   If you have an image of outstanding costume reference please let us know it’s history  or relvance to you.

1. Bretagne  

Bretagne Wedding

Traditional Bretagne Wedding

2.  Alsace  

Alsace  (1)

Alsace Costumes -Watercolour byP.Kauffmann - printed March 1919


Alsace  (2)

Alsace at the Water Fountain by P. Kauffmann - Printed March 1919


Alsace  (3)

Alsace - Days in the country - Printed March 1919

Alsace Watercolour by P. Kauffmann

These four  stunning watercolour paintings were recorded in a copy of L’Illustration recently found September 2012.  The last image has all the individual names of  all the ladies gathered.  Wish we had more!  Gathering gossip the old fashioned way…

These wonderful costumes were about to disappear but this was delayed by the German occupation of Alsace following the victory of Germany after the Franco/Prussian war of 1870/1. After France finally beat Germany in 1918 after the Great War,these costumes became virtually extinct. We have found these wonderful watercolours reproduced in 1919! They were by a prolific artist called Adolphe Paul Kauffman. He was born in 1849 and lived for 90 years dying in 1940. He began his career in industrial design in Mulhouse before going to Paris. He then started as a regional painter before becoming a brilliant illustrator. He was engaged in the 1870 war and during this time started to work for L’llustration the great French weekly news magazine. His great joy,however,was painting in watercolours. He was determined to preserve these unique costumes before they permanently disappeared. There were at least eighty distinct different costumes,special bonnets from the Haut-Rhin, hairstyles from the Valley of the Fecht.At the end of the war they dressed up to celebrate the end of hostilities. Much couture,even in Paris,was highly influenced by regional costumes.



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