Pink Popularity in the 18th Century

If you’re anything like us, you have probably been really into the moment the color pink is having in fashion this summer, thanks to a certain iconic doll. It’s been really fun and inspiring to see people from all different aesthetic groups and fashion spaces embrace the power of pink by creating bold pink ensembles- and we had to make some shoes to match, of course!

Snapshots from our limited edition Think Pink mini-collection, available for two weeks only through August 4!

I think that one of the reasons why it feels especially cool to see pink being embraced at the moment is because the way pink can sometimes be stereotyped as a frivolous, un-serious color (smells a bit like misogyny to me…). But, pink is really a very interesting, important color in fashion, with an extremely rich history that dates back hundreds of years! That’s why our Think Pink collection pre-order is going to be accompanied by a couple of blog posts on the role of pink in fashion (stay tuned for our next post about pink in fashion during the first half of the 20th century). Today, we’re going to focus on pink’s rise to popularity in the 18th century.

The Georgians were pink enthusiasts, especially during the second half of the 18th century. While today, pink has this stereotype as a ‘feminine’ color, in the 18th century, pink was frequently associated with power and wealth. Popular with royals and fashion trendsetters from all genders, pink was a symbol of aristocracy.

Enlightenment-era innovations with chemical dyes also contributed to the availability of pink tones in textiles. King Louis XV of France, for example, loved pink, and had all manner of decorative items created with pink features. Thusly, pink began to spread from clothing and ornaments onto walls, via paintings and interior decorating features. New plant dyes meant that paint was available in brighter and longer-lasting shades of pink. This rise in popularity helped to solidify pink as color within it’s own right, as opposed to just a lighter shade of red.

Musical clock c. 1762, French, attributed to ean-Claude Chambellan Duplessis the elder. From The Wallace Collection.
Beautiful mid-18th century tray, painted by André-Vincent Viellard and manufactured by the Sèvres Manufactory. Now at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut.

18th century upper-class and royal men wore lots of pink. For example- the portrait of Sir Miles Stapylton, 4th Bt of Myton below.

A delightfully bright men’s coat and waistcoat, from France circa 1860. From the collection at LACMA.
This absolutely gorgeous 1770s/1780s British silk suit is from the costume collection at the Met Museum. There are lots of close-up photos of the details, go take a look!

Speaking of Louis, Madame de Pompadour herself helped popularize pink. Mme de Pompadour was extremely influential at court, so once she started wearing pink, the color really took off.

La Marquise de Pompadour, c. 1740-1760, at the Bowes Museum.

Ever fashionable, Mme de Pompadour frequently paired pink with blue, which was also very chic at the time.

Madame de Pompadour, Francois Boucher, 1756. At Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany.

Later on, Marie Antoinette was bedecked in pink by her modiste Rose Bertin.

This gazette des atours features a collage of pink fabric pieces used to create Marie Antoinette’s wardrobe. This page of the gazette is from 1782, and it’s located in the French National Archives.
This miniature of Marie Antoinette by François Dumont from 1784 shows Marie in pink- it’s considered the last known portrait of the queen wearing pink.

As pink was associated with nudity and more sensual areas of the body, pink functioned as a suggestive color in dress and in art. For example- the ever-famous painting The Swing, which we can’t seem to stop talking about.

Les Hasards heureux de l’escarpolette, c. 1767, by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, in the Wallace Collection in London.
Madame de Pompadour again in Pompadour at Her Toilette, by François Boucher. All these accents in pink (especially her pink cheeks) are sensually suggestive.

Okay, we could keep going on about this topic forever, but a blog post should only be so long. To finish, we present a few snapshots of our friend @laurietavan in some delicious pink 18th century gowns, from American Duchess photoshoots past.

The Think Pink Limited Edition mini-collection is available for TWO WEEKS ONLY! Snag yours by August 4, and you will receive a nice discount of $20/€20 per pair.

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