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Portraits and Performance: Eighteenth Century Dress and the Culture of Appearances in Spanish America

by Laura Beltrán-Rubio

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During the eighteenth century, there was an increased interest in the Spanish World for French fashions and imported luxury goods, sparked by both the establishment of the Bourbon dynasty in Spain and a general increase in consumption. A new style, influenced by the fashions of the French court at Versailles, influenced the Spanish American colonies, where aristocratic women began to modify the French fashions into a local culture of appearances. Using portraits, texts from inventories, diaries, and travellers’ journals, this article makes a preliminary exploration of the emergence of this process in the Viceroyalty of the New Granada, northern South America, by studying the influence of French female fashions and their adoption and adaptations by the Spanish colonial aristocracy.

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