Mouches Pour Bal

Reviving the seductive language of 18th century artificial moles


The nearly lost courtesan art of clandestine communication, through the application of artificial moles, might just be experiencing a modest revival. Literally translated as “Flies for Balls,” Mouches Pour Bal are self-adhesive shapes that last swarmed women’s faces during France’s decadent 18th century court. Bell’occio, the San Francisco vintage shop known for reproducing rare merchandise by select ateliers has reissued the self-stick insignias in velvet. Based on a packet fallen from a courtesan’s handkerchief—now held in the shop’s antique collection—the ensemble includes 20 Mouches: four each in hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades and circles with a postcard illustration to suggest placement.

Once worn to conceal a blemish or to create allure, the mouche—and its specific placement on a woman’s face or neck—would become a language under the extravagant chief mistress to Louis XV (an official role positioning her as an arbiter of taste) and was used as a code of seductive intent.

Mouches Pour Bal can be found at Bell’occio for $20 a pack. As well as from Marbella, the French innovator of jewelry worn directly on the skin. A kit of 19 (in gold, silver, black and red) is available for €15.

Images by Cool Hunting