From high starched towers to elaborately pinned, tucked, and embroidered confections of handmade lace, the creations captured here by Charles Fréger are as delicate as they are distinctive. Fréger has photographed a series of portraits of Breton women of every generation from every region, wearing costumes and headdresses of endless variety. Each costume and headdress may indicate a wearer’s village as well as age or status. They are worn for celebrations of marriage, birth, or a local saint’s day, or to mark a period of mourning. Against a translucent gauze backdrop, young girls and women, both married and unmarried, mothers, sisters, and grandmothers, pose in costume for these stunning portraits.
Although these headdresses were once worn daily, today they are part of a costume tradition upheld by women throughout Brittany in rites of passage, in Celtic circles, and at summer festivals, keenly attended by young and old.
Some fifty headdresses are identified and described in a separate reference section, accompanied by specially commissioned illustrations. Fréger’s exceptional photographs demonstrate Breton culture’s wealth of pride, ingenuity, and personal expression.
Charles Fréger is a photographer based in Rouen, France. Internationally acclaimed for his subtle and poetic portraiture, he has devoted himself to the representation of social groups. Previous books include Portraits in Lace: Breton Women, Yokainoshima: Island of Monsters, and Cimarron: Freedom and Masquerade.
Marie Darrieussecq is a novelist and winner of the Prix Médicis.
Yann Guesdon is a specialist in Breton costume.