Watteau Pleat

Dress and Petticoat, French 1730. Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Dress and Petticoat, French 1730. Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Hawai’i’s geographic location (the most isolated island chain on the planet) coupled with its strategic position (for military and trade) creates a place for cultures to collide in unusual ways. And often these collisions remain intact forever, like insects in amber.

Take the Watteau pleat. Watteau pleating is a beloved convention of Hawaiian clothes but where did it come from? In the 1800s Boston missionaries were allowed to live on the islands and brought with them many crazy ideas including enforced clothes wearing. The fashion rage at the time was a revival of the watteau pleat which was worn in European tea dresses and named after Rococo painter Antoine Watteau. Hawaiians adopted it into the mu’umu’u lexicon and the pleat has stayed elegantly in place ever since.

We take the traditional full length Watteau pleat and shorten it to give back interest to our watteau midi dress. We love how it lengthens the dresses’ line.