Sunday, May 3, 2009

History of Cockades part 1- 1600s to 1789

I'm a history geek as well as a clothing geek, and since I started making them I've been interested in finding out more about the history of cockades (aka rosettes). It seems that they started out in the 1600s as a button and/or ribbon tie fastener to hold up the side/s of a cocked hat, and then became more common in the early 1700s. The early cockades were pretty plain, like these):

As you can see, they're not too flashy, just some ribbon (usually black) tacked on under the button loop for a bit of decoration.

Pretty soon, however, people were doing more complicated designs with the ribbon, and using color/s to symbolize military rank or political party affiliation, like wearing a mini-flag. The style of hat worn as part of military uniform was very important for identifying rank at the time.

Edward Francis Cunningham: Portrait Prinz Friedrich Ludwig Karl von Preu├čen, c. 1786:

Military-style cocked hats were also just plain fashionable in France during the reign of Louis XV & Marie Antoinette, and cockades became more decorative and complex.

A young Marie Antoinette, 1771 (without the actual ribbon part of the cockade, but you can see clearly the way the loop & button work to cock the hat):

The following two pictures are especially interesting because in addition to the cockades on their hats, the people each appear to be wearing a cockade on their jacket- the man's is actually an embroidered 'order' insignia (military or chivalric). The woman's is probably an order as well. I have a theory that military medals and insignia like these evolved from cockades, I'm still researching this. They did migrate from hats to clothing, in any case.

The display of politics through wearing cockades took on major importance during and after the French Revolution- More about that in a future post.

Classic Encyclopedia (the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica rocks!)

Wikipedia article on cockades


Fashion in the French Revolution by Aileen Ribiero
Queen of Fashion, What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber

1 comment:

  1. I came across a 1790s military character who seems to be wearing 3 red cockades on the left side of his tophat. the cockades are all in a line under each other.

    Was this a common practice?