European Fashion Heritage Association

Journal Exhibitions

Object Voices: Le ‘Robe Volante’

European fashionFrench fashion

An interesting eighteen-century gown from the collection of the Palais Galliera, whose fascinating details enrich its history

One year after its reopening in 2020, the Palais Galliera inaugurates, during the autumn of 2021 in its new galleries ‘A History of Fashion at the Palais Galliera’ which traces the history of the Palais Galliera and its collections.

Visitors are taken on a chronological and thematic tour that presents two intertwined stories. From masterpiece to masterpiece, from the 18th century robe volante to the creations of Comme des Garçons, from the wardrobe of the Comtesse Greffulhe to the avant-garde designs of Rick Owens, the visitor is drawn into a history of fashion from the 18th century to the present day, illustrated by the finest pieces in the Palais Galliera, the fashion museum of the city of Paris.

This gown probably belonged to Anne Françoise de La Chaize d’Aix, who in 1736 married Pierre-François de Montaigu (1692-1761), Louis XIV’s future ambassador to Venice. It was kept at Château de La Chaize in the Beaujolais region, which was home to the La Chaize d’Aix family. The celebrated confessor of Louis XIV was a family member.

This gown is an example of the change in the feminine wardrobe between the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. It is part of the vast family of coats and dressing gowns, known as “déshabillés”, with a pleated bodice covering stays and a skirt that was lifted above or lowered over an underskirt. Fashion opposed these new arrivals to the type of gown used until that time, with a visibly stayed bodice and train; these older-style gowns were gradually relegated to official ceremonies and prestige events. Flounced gowns are very rare and only five are currently conserved in international public collections. Two are found at Palais Galliera.