Sunday, August 2, 2009

Madame Tallien

Speaking of Incroyables, the female counterparts, the merveilleuses, were led by the scandelous Theresa Tallien. Since her husband led the Thermidorian reaction that overthrew the Jacobin control of the National Assembly and installed the five-man Directorate, and since she was the lover of one of the Directors, Paul Barras, she was considered to be the It Girl of her day.

She particularly liked to push fashion to the very limit and turned the Neo-Greek and Roman fashions that had gained popularity under the French Republic into fun but frivolous pieces, made in see-through muslins and worn without petticoats (gasp!). Madame Tallien once appeared at the Paris Opera wearing absolutely nothing but a white silk dress. Talleyrand, after admiring her for a few minutes, remarked, "It is not possible to exhibit oneself more sumptuously!"
Considering that, a few weeks before, Madame Tallien had wagered that her earrings weighed more than all her clothes, immediately proved it in public and won, the Amateur Historian is inclined to agree.


  1. Almost the French equivalent of Elizabeth Chudleigh!

  2. Ha, almost, but I think Elizabeth Chudleigh had the spotlight much longer than Mme Tallien!