Barbette (December 19, 1898 – August 5, 1973) was an American female impersonator, high-wire performer, and trapeze artist born in Texas on December 19, 1899. Barbette attained great popularity throughout the United States but his greatest fame came in Europe and especially Paris, in the 1920s and 1930s.
Barbette began performing as an aerialist at around the age of 14 as one-half of a circus act called The Alfaretta Sisters. After a few years of circus work, Barbette went solo and adopted his exotic-sounding pseudonym. He performed in full drag, revealing himself as male only at the end of his act.
Following a career-ending illness or injury, Barbette returned to Texas but continued to work as a consultant for motion pictures as well as training and choreographing aerial acts for a number of circuses. After years of dealing with chronic pain, Barbette committed suicide on August 5, 1973. Both in life and following his death, Barbette served as an inspiration to a number of artists including Jean Cocteau and Man Ray.In the Middle Ages, the well-dressed (and well-behaved) lady did not run about town with her head completely uncovered like a maid. Even if she decided to forgo any sort of elaborate headdress, she would be adorned with the simple veil. Throughout the period veils came in both oval and rectangular configurations, which could be worn in a wide variety of ways – both alone or with wimples, barbettes, or any number of different headdresses and hats. We have replicated both shapes in lightweight linen, and generously sized them to create an elegant, flowing look. For more formal wear, we offer both a barbette and a wimple to be worn with the veil. The barbette’s origin has been attributed to Eleanor of Aquitaine in the mid-12th century, and was a simple band of cloth used to secure a veil or hat, worn vertically around the head and fastened closed with a pin.