Artist/maker unknown, American
Clothing can be more than just a potent symbolic signifier: at times what one wears can be a matter of life or death. After the start of the French Revolution in 1789, citizens of both sexes wore the blue, white, and red of the new order. Tricolor rosettes, or cockades, were first displayed by patriot revolutionaries, but soon became compulsory, and those who did not conform could be condemned as traitors. The rosettes shown here, however, are purely celebratory, worn in the United States to honor the return of the Marquis de Lafayette, the French hero of the American Revolution.