What made a woman a true Parisienne? Even more important than her beauty, behaviour or character were the clothes she wore.
It was all about combining the latest fashion in eye-catching ways to create a visual ensemble that enriched the Parisian street scene.
The appearance of cheaper clothes in the French capital’s department stores meant that the ideal of the Parisienne was also attainable by less well-off women.
Now everyone could stroll fashionably along the boulevards.
A successful prostitute might even buy her clothes from the same designer as a princess, making it harder to judge a woman’s class and virtue from her appearance.
Octave Uzanne, La femme à Paris, nos contemporaines. Notes successives sur les parisiennes de ce temps dans leurs divers milieux, états et conditions, Paris 1894
Ruth Iskin, ‘The chic Parisienne. A National Brand of French fashion and Femininity’, in Modern Women and Parisian Consumer Culture in Impressionist Painting, Cambridge 2007, p. 184-224
Sabine Denuelle, La Parisienne dans l’art, Paris 2011