The Chatelaine was neither a jewel, an accessory nor an house object but actually a mixture of all these elements: a wonderful addiction to the female outfit and at the same time gracious and useful tool for the household tasks.

The “Chatelaine” was kept at waist height running down to half the legs, usually on the belt but also as a brooch and able to hold objects such as scissors, needles holder an threats for last minute fixing, salt phials (for abrupt fainting of the ladies of 1800, probably a fake), tiny block notes with pencils, coin purse, magnifying glass, small watches, a Swiss knife or matches.

Basically a bazaar when needed

Below: “Two Women” by Charles Boom made in 1901

In high middle class families and aristocracy, the object was worn by the governess in charge of the servants, while in bourgeois families it was used by the mistress of the house that often has some waitresses but not a fixed governess.

The Chatelaine was not a jewel, it was a functional object with no aesthetical purpose, but this did not prevent them from being beautiful, with their researched details which often were turning them into actual important accessories.

The Chatelaine were built, according to the needs of its owner, with different tiny accessories, which were finely decorated. According to the social class to which it was belonging, they could even be made out of silver, becoming a jewel all the way through.

The figure of the governess was of great responsibility. Even by being part of the servants, she was on a higher step; she was the one keeping the keys of the house, the wardrobes, the pantry, she was the one managing the waitresses and she was also who would handle the direction of the house as the Madame was asking her to.

The governesses were often remaining in the family for all their life, they were very appreciated and considered as part of them, despise it all. The male equivalent was the butler, who was though the person dealing with the master of the house and he was in charge of the table set, of parties and the contacts with guests. As for the governess she had contacts with the members of the family, not with public personalities or simple strangers, and she would work on the background, as the society of the time was expecting from a woman.

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Rachele Goracci

DESIGNER, COSTUME MAKER AND LANGUAGE ENTHUSIAST. I HAVE ALWAYS HAD A HUGE PASSION FOR MYSTERY, ODDITIES AND PSYCHOLOGY. BY COLLABORATING WITH VANILLA MAGAZINE I HAVE THE CHANCE TO NURTURE (ALMOST) ALL THESE INTERESTS AT ONCE

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