"upheld them with the aid of exquisite garter scarves."
In one of the French museums is preserved a garter of a duchess who was guillotined at the time of the Revolution. It is of faded blue silk, and is worked with silver fleur de lys, with the motto "Je maintien-drai" ("I will maintain").
A pathetic relic of the French Revolution. A garter reputed to have been worn by a friend of the ill-fated Marie Antoinette, who, like her Royal
A pretty garter of the eighteenth century, as worn by a lady of rank and fashion
In a very fine collection of historic and curious garters made by a French lady of title are some exquisite and costly as well as very interesting examples. One of white satin, now faded with age, and worked with roses in gold thread, is believed to have once belonged to Madame beauty of Charles the Second's Court. Concerning that period of the garter's history, we read in a contemporary memoir: de Maintenon. Another very interesting specimen is a pair in black velvet with diamond
clasps, known to have graced the dainty limbs of Frances Stewart, that frail
"All English ladies of quality wear silken stockings. Green is now a favourite colour; and those who cannot afford silk, the sooner than disfigure their shapely limbs with cotton, go barelegged, showing on occasion their white, soft skin, than which nothing could be better. Such is the fashion for gartering that even then they are worn often of black velvet with bejewelled clasps."
Yet another interesting specimen, once belonging to the famous Madame Vestris, is a golden pliable snake with ruby and emerald eyes, long enough to more than encircle any average feminine limb above or below the knee. A garter, said to have been one of Queen Elizabeth's, lies in a specially made casket or box lined with pale green silk to contrast with the faded vieux-rose of the garter itself. The clasp is a plain gold one in the shape of a crown, now broken.
It will be easily gathered that the garter in the past has been ornamental, costly, extravagant, artistic, and plain by turns. It has never prob-ably been on occasions more elaborate, costly, or bizarre than at the present time. The nymphs and merveilleuses of the Directoire period garlanded their lower limbs (often exhibited in broad daylight clad merely in skintight pantaloons of kid) with real flowers. Flower garters are by no means unknown at the present time. A Regent Street florist, in 1911, made up several pairs, for a well-known "society" woman, of Parma violets, and of "button" roses mounted upon broad silk elastic. A lady at the Court of the Second Empire encircled her knees with flexible golden snakes with diamond eyes costing 10,000 francs (£400) the pair. Recently (1911) a pair of gold snake garters was made, costing very little less.
And so fashion in garters, as in other things, repeats itself.
Formerly mottoes for garters were in fashion. Nowadays there seems to be a revival. Recently a pair was made on one of which was embroidered in gold thread, "Ich dien," on the other "Have no Fear."
Should garter mottoes again become fashionable, possibly poets may break forth into suitable verses such as the two following, which grace a pair of elaborate ones dating from the middle of the last century. On one was embroidered:
"When night with morning lingers, Awake and stirring be,
A simple but dainty garter of early Victorian date
And with your dainty fingers Place this around your knee."
On the other was;
"When day with eve reposes, And owls begin to see, Unloose this band of roses, And, dear one, think of me."
There are several quaint customs in connection with garters. A description of two, however, must suffice. The one is that prevalent in several mid-european countries, of taking off the bride's garter by the best-man at the "breakfast," and cutting it up, and distributing the pieces amongst the groomsmen and guests. The second is the practice in the German Imperial Family of giving the bride thirteen pairs, one pair of which is kept as a memento by the bride as likely to bring her good luck. 1 his pair is always made of pale blue silk (the virgin's colour), and has diamond clasps. Another pair is sent to the museum in Berlin - where there are something like seventy most interesting specimens - and the remaining pairs are given as keepsakes to the young nobles and others who attend the bridegroom at the altar.
A dainty garter worn by a modern bride, copied from a beautiful model of the
What does the German Mrs. Grundy say? judging from the modern specimens, garters are even nowadays scarcely less dainty, elaborate, or costly than of yore, though perhaps often worn more for ornament and sentiment than for use.
Occasionally, beautiful model garters are made from old examples, which are to be found preserved in such museums as the Cluny, Paris, or that of Berlin, or are to be found illustrated in old books of fashion, or in the quaint and now valuable mezzotints and prints of the eighteenth century. Of such a nature was a pair (one of which we are able to illustrate) made recently for a well-known "society" bride, copied from a model which must have graced the limbs of a Watteau shepherdess of the French Court of Louis the Fourteenth, or those of one of the dainty merveilleuses of a somewhat later age.
But of whatever fabric, elaborate or simple, the garter has always seemed to have exercised a fascination over the mind of the fair sex.