Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Art of Wearing a Train

From History and Other Thoughts:
At the court of England, trains have been indispensable at the receptions called a "Drawing Room" from time immemorial, but Louis Philippe had banished them from his court, so that their revival at the court of France, under the present Emperor, or rather Empress, for we are to suppose that she presides over costumes, has created quite a sensation in Paris.

A train is the most difficult thing to wear; many a woman, graceful in the ordinary dress, feels awkward and embarrassed with this addition to her dress, for it must not be imagined that a train, such as is worn on the stage, is at all the train worn at court.

On the stage half a yard added to the length of the dress is considered a train, whilst the court, train is three yards long, leaving a yard and three-quarters or yard and a half on the ground.

At the English court, the train neatly folded, is thrown over the arm while passing through the spacious but crowded rooms loading to the presence chamber, the fullest, though not the most crowded, because the numerous assembly are all symmetrically arranged.

The queen on the throne at one end of the room, has the royal family and the officers of state ranged on each side of her in a semicircle; the middle of the room is entirely filled by the foreign ambassadors, the ministers of state, and the attaches, leaving only a narrow passage-way for the person presented to Her Majesty.

The lady about to be presented enters at a side door, where her card is taken by an officer and handed to a chamberlain, who pronounces her name to the queen. At the moment she passes this door, her train is spread out by a page, she then proceeds somewhat rapidly along this passage-way to the throne, kisses the queen's extended hand, then passes on and goes out at a door on the opposite side. As she passes out, another page whisks up her train and throws it over her arm, and all is over—she has nothing more to do but to chat with her friends, and in due time make her way to her carriage, the real ceremony for which she came to court having taken about one minute and a half.

A far more formidable thing, is a presentation at the Imperial Court of France. Here, instead of being in a crowded and comparatively small room, as at Sr. James, the emperor and his court all stand at the extremity of a very long saloon. The lady to be presented enters through folding-doors at the other end; all eyes are upon her, and she has to traverse the whole length of the room, alone, under this ordeal, with the satisfaction of hearing her name handed from chamberlain to chamberlain, until it reaches the emperor. At the door of the saloon, as she enters, the lady presented has to make one formal curtesy, then walking into the middle of the room, she makes another, and lastly, advancing close up to the imperial group, she makes the third and last, which is most graciously responded to by the emperor by an imperial kiss on each cheek, and by a profound and courteous salutation from the empress.

All this appears easy to accomplish, but those who have not tried it, cannot tell how the courage, which is great at the opening of the folding-doors, oozes out whilst crossing the long gorgeous room to no other sound than that of your own name, and knowing that you are under the gaze of a whole court, yourself examined and criticised by the gentlemen, your dress most closely looked into by the women, and with no very indulgent comments. (Read more.)

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