Why does it appear so often on German ladies,
but not on French, English etc ones?

 

Good question...

All the non-German examples I know so far are robes de cour in the strict sense and found at royal courts. The sole exception are three or four Scandinavian instances of more casual styles that may or may not be from a royal court environment.
"Stomacher" jewelery
(click to enlarge)

And there we have what I think is the answer to the above question: Royal courts. Most European countries were, in the early 18th centrury, centralised, both politically and culturally. There was one royal court that was the shining centre of the country to which all eyes were turned. Especially in France, all the higher nobility spent a large portion of their time at court or even permanently lived there. Under Louis XIV, court dress was developed into a uniform that allowed variation only in the fabrics, colours and jewelry used.

Germany, on the other hand, was only a cultural entity, but politically it was divided into a large number of kingdoms, electorates, duchies, counties etc. which were all autonomous. Their lords therefore behaved as kings of their little domains, copying the customs of the royal courts and especially that of Versailles. That included copying the court costume.

So, the styles of the French royal court were copied to the smaller courts of the local lords, of which there were many - and each had their ladies-in-waiting. That's why I think that the Allemande was so widely used: Because there were so many small courts instead of one central court. In other words, there was more opportunity of wearing courtly dress.

What may have helped it along was the early development of casual variations that were much less impractical and expensive. The need for more casual garments such as the manteau and the Française was, therefore, less acute - not acute enough to overcome decades-old conventions.

Moreover, in France, the middle class quickly adopted the Française, so it was frequently seen in the streets and the salons held by the members of the rich, emerging bourgeoisie. In both places, the nobles were frequently exposed to garments that were obviously quite comfortable. The German middle class of the same day and age, on the other hand, had developed very distinct styles that did not have the appeal of comfortability, but rather a strong aspect of regionality, i.e. provinciality.

 

Next chapter: For what occasions was it worn and by whom?

 

 

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