German Little Lord Fauntleroy Suits

Figure 1.--The image here shows a boy outfitted in his best velvet party suit about to be presented to Chancellor Bismarck, probably some time in the ealy 1890s. The boy is obviously a bit dubious about the encounter. His sister is trying to encourage him. The long hair and Little Lord Fauntleroy suit are interesting because it looks right out of Mrs. Burnett's bool "Little Lord Fauntleroy" that ignited the Fauntleroy craze. The illuustration was drawn by C.W. Allers. We believe that this a very acurate depiction of an actual event and boy's costume. Unlike some illustrators, who were often inventive, Allers very acurately drew the costumes of the day.

I believe that the Fauntleroy suit and long hair, especially ringlets, were less popular in Germany than in America and other European countries. We do not have adequate information at this time, however, to make any definitive statement. We do know that Fauntleroy suits were worn to some extent in Germany, but we do not know to what extent. We believe that it may have been more of an aristocratic or wealthy than a middle-class style as was the case in America. Also there may have been significant regional differences. Germany was only unified in 1871 and destinct regional differences persisted in Germany for many years. Fauntleroy suits seem more likely to have been worn in Bavaria, for example than more austere Prussia.


The image here shows a boy outfitted in his best velvet party suit about to be presented to Bismarck some time about 1894. The boy is obviously a bit dubious about the encounter and his sister is encouraging him (figure 1). We can't be sure about the precise date. His sister's dress, for example, looks more like the 1890s than the 1870s to me, but I do nor pretend to be an expert in lady's dresses. The velvet suit and lace collar certianly looks like a Fauntleroy suit spin off which would date it after 1885. This is interesting because while we known that Fauntleroy suits were widely worn in America, England, and France in the late 19th century, we have little information on Germany. The date is unclear because in the source the drawing is included in a chapter of his life right after the Franco-Prussian war, but then I read that he often went to Bad Kissingen where he took time to talk and meet all kinds of people. [Allers and Kraemer] That was during the last years of his life. Bismarck died in 1898. The parents of this boy were possibly inspired by the Fauntleroy look of upper-class English boys. So the date of this illustration appears to be the 1890s. The boy wears a black velve suit and what look like above the knee knickers. He has a small cap. I'm nit sure what that style cap was aclled. Note that he wears a closed jacket and not the small open classic Faintletoy jacket, worn open to show off a fancy Faunrleroy blouse. His lace collar and cuff trom look to be pinned on. He has a veru large matching bow and sash as were common in the 1890s. Note he does not wear long stockings. While European boys commonly wore socks rather than long stockings, American boys until the turn of the 20th century almost always wore long stockings. Also notice that his long hair is not curled. This also appears to have been common in France. American boys with long hair usially had it curled.


HBC has very few 19th century German photographic images. Thus we can not make an assessment as to how common Fauntleroy suits were in Germany, except to say we have not yet encountered such an image. A German reader who collects old photographs tells us, "For 5 years now I have been searching old photographies (flea markets, antique markets, e-Bay, etc.) and I have never seen a German photo with a boy with long curls or a Fauntleroy suit. So it must be absolutely rare." Apparently it was, however, not unknown. The Aller drawing here almost certainly represents an actual German boy in a Fauntleroy suit during the 1890s. Aller was known for his accurate depictions. We do note some boys in the 20th century wearing what might be called modest Fauntleroy suits. This could include cut-away jackets and small ruffled collar. These outfits were much less elaborate than the Fauntleroy suits of the late-19th century, but we see quite a few German boys in the early-20th century wearing outfits with Fauntleroy features. This included boys dressed up for their first day of school.


We are just begining to build a chronology of German Little Lord Fauntleroy suits. This is complicated because the style was not nearly as popular in Germany as it was in America, Britain, and several other European countries. We especially note very few 19th century (1880s-90s) images in the photographic record which was the peak of the Fauntleroy craze. The image here is a rare exception. But this boy came from an obviosly wealthy family. We note many American boys wearing Fauntleroy outfits from middle class families. They were mostly families in comfortable circumstances, but certainly not rich by any means. We do see boys from well to do German families wearing Fauntleroy suits or Fauntleroy influenced suits in the 20th century. These seem to be boys from wealthy families or at least the uper-middle class, perhaps influenced by Bavarian royalty. A good example are the Staufenberg boys in 1915. We notice a few examples after World War I in the 1920s and 30s, but fewer and less elaboratte outfits. And we no longer see long flowing hair..

Bavarain Royals

We also note that the Bavarian royals were dressed in outfits akin to Faintleroy suits until their early teens. This was especially true of the children of Crown Prince Rupprecht during the 1900s. They did not, however, have ringlet curls. How common this was among wealthy Germans and other areas of Germany, we do not know at this time. Prince Rupprecht married twice and had a total of ten children, quite a royal family. Prince Rupprecht first married the Bavarian Maria Gabriele (1900). It w a very successful marriage. Their first child, Luitpold arrived the next year (1901). They had four children. Several years after Maria Gabriele died, Prince Rupprecht married again to Princess Antoinette von Nassau, of Luxembourg (1921). They had another six children.


Allers, C.W. and Hans Kraemer. Unser Bismarck "Our Bismarck" (Union Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft, Stuttgart, 1900).


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Created: September 27, 2002
Last updated: 1:26 PM 10/13/2019