SAINT  LUCIA  NATIONAL  DRESS

 

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The origin and design of the Saint Lucia National Dress is said to have been fashioned from a similar one worn by the women of Southern France, since most of our customs were influenced by those who came to the Caribbean when France was the mother country.  In Saint Lucia, as well as in the French neighboring islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe and Dominica, many changes were made to the costumes to make them the most colorful and gorgeous to be worn by a native of these Islands.

The national dress is called the Madras and is a three piece outfit consisting of a white blouse known in French creole as (Chemise decoltee) made of cotton or poplin and trimmed with borderie anglaise and red ribbon.

The outer skirt is made of Madras material (made in Madras, India) and can be long or short.  This outer skirt is worn over a long white cotton slip which is trimmed at the bottom with rows of  insertion lace through which red ribbon is weaved.

The head piece, called the TÍte en l'air is also made of Madras material and tied in peaks at the top.  (These peaks represent various levels of romantic commitment). One peak means my heart is free, two peaks mean my heart is engaged but you can try, three peaks mean my heart is engaged, and four peaks mean, anyone who tries is welcome.

The foulard, a triangular shaped shoulder scarf (brightly colored satin) pinned on the left shoulder with the ends tucked in the waist of the skirt to the front and back, completes the outfit.

The man's outfit consists of a white shirt, black trousers, and a colored or madras bow-tie and sash (cummerbund) around the waist.

TRADITIONAL DRESS

Another version of the National Dress, the Wob Dwiyet  introduced in the 18th century and worn as a formal gown worn on special occasions, e.g. christenings, weddings, processions etc. is still worn today.  It is a long one piece dress with a train, made of bright colored fabric, sometimes brocaded satin with floral design. The back  is full, with a pleated seam at the waist.  A tie extending from the sides and tying in front holds the dress in place.

It is worn over a petticoat (slip) which appears when the dress has been lifted on the right or on the left.  The sleeves are always long, and the  neck can be round or heart-shaped.  The petticoat is made of taffeta, satin or chantilly lace, decorated with insertion lace and ribbon, and superimposed, gathered and pleated flounces and lace.

In order to avoid being hampered by the train, the wearer picks up the folds of the dress and elegantly throws it over the left or right arm allowing the long petticoat to show. The foulard, a triangular scarf made of satin material with the apex at the centre of the back, is worn around the neck and shoulders and is held in place by a brooch.

The head-dress worn with the Wob is the calendeuse one peak head-dress, or tÍte casť  and is a flat version of the headpiece. It is made of the same material as the dress, or of madras.  It has a peak called provocacion towards the front, and a gold pin or brooch is attached to the base of the peak.  Bracelets, large hoop earrings and necklaces complete the ensemble.

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