Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford: Ch. 10 Annotation – Turbans in Victorian Fashion & Madame de Staël

Gaskell Blog © Katherine C.

Signor Brunoni spoke broken English like a Frenchman, and, though he wore a turban like a Turk, Mrs. Forrester had seen a print of Madame de Stael with a turban on, and another of Mr. Denon in just such a dress as that in which the conjuror had made his appearance; showing clearly that the French, as well as the Turks, wore turbans: there could be no doubt Signor Brunoni was a Frenchman

Turbans were very a la mode in the Regency and even through the early Romantic era they make the occasional appearance, but by the Victorian I haven’t seen a fashion plate with someone wearing one. Bergers Ladies’ Gazette of Fashion does mention them in an 1844 edition:

The turban Algerienne, composed of a gold or silver gauze scarf, ornamented with diamond epis, will be the favorite turban.

It must be assumed they were still worn but not terribly fashionable. The engraving on the left is the one most likely seen by Mrs. Forrester of Madame de Staël. Who wasn’t actually French but Swiss. She did, however, live in Paris and spoke fluent French. Described as an influential person in the 19th century, she had a strong intellect from a young child, was interested in the theories of Rousseau, and published a few novels.

If you’d like to read more about her please visit wikipedia.


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