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Stunning Macroni Dresses
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Macaroni apparel was lampooned as excessive and eccentric in several caricature prints, playswith, and satirical texts. The macaronies form the largest subset within the English graphical social satires produced in abundance from the early 1770s. The catalogers of the British Museum caricature collection, Frederic George Stephens at 1883 and Dorothy George in 1935, printed a wealth of primary material regarding macaronis which has formed the basis of all further studies. Aileen Ribeiro wrote the initial article dedicated to them in 1978, and has included them in following studies of eighteenth-century costume, where they're discussed as a funny episode from the sartorial folly of young men. In 1985 they formed the subject of an article by Valerie Steele that extended awareness of the social and political influence and helped raise them out of the taint of triviality. Diana Donald's analysis of caricature indicates that a reading of the macaroni type provides significant insights into eighteenth-century English society. She highlights their role in defining the English personality as fair and measured in comparison to the reign of folly experienced across the Channel. Represented in a wide variety of verbal and visual sources, from the press to the theatre, the macaronis supplied the perfect framework for review regarding consumption and emulation, as they suggested wild expenditure, the spread of fashionability, as well as the cult of gaming in late-eighteenth-century English society. The generally held explanation for the name "macaroni," that it was derived from a fondness for that curry, might be redeemed in that "macaronic" refers also to a kind of mixed language poetry known because of its wit, a hallmark of this macaroni stereotype. "Macaroni" so also indicated that the world of the medieval carnival, burlesque, carousing, and excessive food. The macaroni was regularly linked with a slavish and shallow love of matters continental and Catholic. The amused suspicion of the English toward those supposedly uncritical followers of fashion is linked to a hostility toward trendy dress that had colored British life since at least the seventeenth century. This censure had generally been more strongly directed at girls, and the macaroni incident changed a lot of the attention toward a redefinition of effeminate guys. In occasional prints, plays, and satires that the macaroni was cast as an indeterminate figure who didn't fit normative stereotypes of sex and sexuality. Fictional descriptions of "Lord Dimple," "Sir William Whiffle," and "Marjorie Pattypan" deployed the idea of a neutral or unnatural sex where "improper" feminine attributes were grafted onto male look, dress, and behavior. The features of this Regency dandy (circa 1800)-deviant masculine consumption, nonreproductive irresponsibility, a rejection of middle-class gendering, a generation of the male body and dwelling into a function of art-are firmly evinced in the macaroni type. The macaroni fashion tastes, however, were quite different and both shouldn't be conflated.

 

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