1860 Empress Eugenie wearing a crinoline dress close up
This photo shows Empress Eugénie wearing a full crinoline day dress with five tiers and that has been adapted to meet the needs of basic social interaction by reducing fullness in front and moving the fullness to the back.
More from Fleuty: Some years ago (Spring 1916 by Maison Worth – gogm), an effort was made to bring back the crinoline, though in less exaggerated proportions. But, fortunately, the attempt failed. And yet, it cannot be denied that the fashion was becoming to certain women. All of them did not appear ridiculous in crinolines. At the court of the Tuileries, where dress was never carried too far, it cannot be said that the crinoline was ugly. The Empress was not able to ignore the fashion but she always kept the crinoline within reasonable bounds. Its final suppression, I always considered to be due to Worth, who was really a great fashion-maker. He did much to revive a taste for grace in attire. He modified the shape of the skirt, while he gradually molded the shape of the body. Little by little he diminished the immense circumference of the hoops until they were quite done away with, or were replaced by light cage-like affairs which held up the train behind (bustles –gogm). This sort of 'dress improver' held its ground for a few years longer, and then it, too, was at last abandoned. Though this improver may be said to have been abnormal, it was not wholly inartistic in some respects and on some persons. Perhaps the Empress’ own liking for short skirts, which all wore for walking at Saint Cloud, Fontainebleau, and Compiegne, had something to do with this gradual modification of woman’s attire.
Norris and Oswald in Nineteenth Century Costume and Fashion, had more about this fashion icon and her crinolines, "We are told that the Empress changed her clothes frequently, hardly ever wearing the same dress more than twice. The amplitude of her skirts was simply fabulous, 'all this stuff being supported by a sort of skeleton of extremely flexible iron.' This type of crinoline was composed entirely of narrow bands of steel descending perpendicularly from the waist, crossed by other bands at right angles forming the circumference." Earlier in the book, they state the name crinoline came from the latin for (horse) hair, crin, and cloth, linum. The cage crinoline freed women from the bulky horsehair predecessors. The crinoline was a technologically advanced version of the farthingale and panniers of earlier centuries, the steel allowing for expansiveness with light weight.
From Paul Frecker; sepia tone removed by gogm.