Then and Now…The Armoire

 During the reign of King Louis XIV, XV and XVI, clothing of the wealthy lent itself to opulence.  Lots and lots of fabric and elaborate ways to wear it!  Women’s clothing in particular was very layered and required corsets and lace, jewelry and sometimes large wigs.  This overindulgent dress was encouraged by these three Kings!

Louis XIV 1645-1715 (King of France for 72 years)

LOUIS XIV’s grandson Louis XV (1715 to 1774) took the throne when he was only 5 years old!


Louis XVI (1774-1792) grandson of Louis XV was 20 when he took the throne. He married Marie Antoinette.

If you were of importance and lucky enough to be in the court of one of these Kings, it was important to dress formal– you wanted to look rich, and you wanted to look powerful and impressive.

Marie Antoinette and her husband the King of France Louis XVI sitting for portraits in yards of cloth that made up their clothing.

 Women’s clothing was extravagant and stunning made of the finest laces, silks and satin….

 ….embellished with tiny waistlines and stiff, tight bodices allowing them to only stand – never sit when worn.

France suffered from great debt during the lavish reigns of Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI which laid the seeds for the French Revolutionary War (1789) causing changes in politics and aesthetics in France.

Formality in dress began to wear thin because of unrest in the land and the magnificence became a burden.

So evolved the Robe Volante. This style is historically significant to fashion in France.  Women could move differently. They could sit and lounge, cross their legs — even show a bit of leg. Painters started fixating on ankles and shins, showing the leg as “an object of desire”.

These dresses were still enormous and demanded space for storage.  This was the beginning of subtle changes in clothing and thought for storage.This rare 1700s <em>robe volante, </em>or "flying dress," was recently purchased by Palais Galliera, a fashion museum in Paris.

For women used to wearing tight bodices, the loose-fitting robe volante was a welcome change.

So comes the question, “How was clothing like this stored”?

 One solution: The ARMOIRE

Image result for pictures of 18th century french armoires in french homes

The word “armoire” is a French term that loosely describes any type of wooden cabinet with shelves. It also refers to the word “closet”.

“Closets” as we know them were non-existent in the 1800’s and kings and ladies alike needed somewhere to store their exquisite robes and expensive gowns when not in use.  European royalty had enough clothes to fill entire rooms which made “clothes rooms” very popular.  These rooms were filled with all sorts of cabinets, typically on stands, to house all of the dresses, robes, jewelry and wigs.

The elaborate clothes cabinet shown below was one that Marie Antoinette had made for her use.  So began the evolution of a cabinet to house clothing instead of chests.

La chambre de La Reine à Versailles:

Eventually, these new, upright closets with hanging spaces and shelves evolved into the modern armoire.  A cabinet with doors from top to bottom.

The armoire was considered a sign of prosperity in the provinces of 17th-Century France. Although less ornate when compared to the elaborate court furniture, the country armoire typically was handsomely decorated with ornate carving and detail.

The armoire below is available at RF Antiques 251-928-8336IMG_5603 - Copy



By the mid-18th Century, it was common for a household to have several armoires. Because closets were unheard of then, the armoire was an essential piece of furniture and usually was an important part of a bride`s dowry.  The piece below may have been a wedding armoire.  Hand-carved by a daughter’s father, given at a young age and filled with linens and clothes (a trousseau) to move with her once she was wed.

This exquisite piece is currently at Aubergine Antiques 251-928-0902

IMG_5597 - Copy


Our shops carry armoires more simple in nature, as well as ones elaborately carved.  Depending on where you plan to use the piece may dictate your preference.


Many people use these pieces in main living areas, bedrooms, bathrooms and in kitchens.  The armoire is quite versatile.

The piece below has wire inserted into the door and looks beautiful when books are stored inside.  This style is also used in bathrooms where one might place folded towels on the shelves.  As well, a kitchen area is an ideal spot – cleverly displaying your pottery or dishes. VERY French.


When contemplating whether or not you should purchase an armoire, remember what Louis XIV wrote:
“There is nothing that indicates more clearly the magnificence of great princes than their superb palaces and their precious furniture.”
You too can own a piece of France’s history.  Call us!
Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!

New French Container

JUST IN – OUR AUGUST 2016 French Container!!

Please take a peek at our newest items under What’s New


IMG_5501Crown and Colony 251-928-4808                 Aubergines 251-928-0902

RF Antiques 251-928-8336




Come visit all three of our stores!  You are sure to find something unique and wonderful to enjoy in your home!  We look forward to seeing you!

Our Address is
24 S. Section St., Fairhope, Alabama 36532

Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!

European Bamboo Furniture

BAMBOO FURNITURE                                


The Exposition Universelle of 1867 in Paris created a craze once again for all things exotic and of Asia, in particular – Japan.  Japan had just opened up to the West in 1854 exporting porcelains and in particular, bamboo furniture.   Bamboo furniture had a quirky lightness that was a real counterpoint to the heavy Rococo Revival styles of the early Victorian era.

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Louis Philippe Commodes


The word “commode” comes from the French, & can mean “convenient” or “agreeable,” or it can mean a piece of furniture with drawers.  For antique collectors, a commode is typically meant to refer to a chest of drawers.

This style of furniture was named Louis Philippe–after the last King of France in the mid-19th century.   He was often referred to as the “Citizen King” because of his efforts to reconcile the traditional Kingdom of France with the Revolution that first brought it to ruin.  He made it a point to be quite affable with the beourgeois (middle class individuals)  and based his monarchy on the support of the people.


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Summer – Luxembourg Gardens

 Wooden Sailboats in Luxembourg Gardens

Jardin du Luxembourg – Paris, France

Before summer gets away from us all I really wanted to share a little bit about our time spent at Luxembourg Gardens in Paris.

A special attraction within the gardens is to visit the Grand Bassin.  There, I very much wanted my children to experience pushing little antique wooden boats around this “pond” in Luxembourg Gardens.   Not boats of their own, but boats made by a French man, Cement Paudeau.  This Parisian tradition began in 1927 making it now over 90 years old!  Paudeau had a passion for wooden boats and his wife made the sales for the boats he hand carved — with the idea of renting them to children visiting the pond they quickly became a fixture of the gardens.

Voiliers Paudeau or Paudeau’s sailboats

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