Regency Vogue - 200 years of fashion representation
The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashion and Politics illustrated periodical was the Regency equivalent of Vogue today. Launched in 1809 by Rudolph Ackermann (an Anglo/German bookseller, inventor, printmaker, publisher and businessman) and was issued monthly until 1829. The magazine was eagerly anticipated especially by Regency women who devoured its content, seeking inspiration to help define their own style and copying the latest trends.
It is hard to comprehend the importance of this magazine. It was full of information from the world of fashion, art and politics; highly prized and was produced exclusively for the upper classes. The heady 'conspicuous consumption' of the 18th century had not waned and this magazine was perfect for those who liked to be 'in the know'. It was without hesitation the 'Vogue' of its day and a forerunner for the actual Vogue magazine that was first published in 1892.
The two fashion images above were produced two hundred years apart. The image on the left comes from 'The Repository of Art, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics, Vol. VI (1811)' and the image on the right from 'British Vogue' from 2011. The difference between the representation of fashion is huge - from demure to the blatant but in purpose and formal aspects the images are much the same. Both show the full figure of the model within an abstracted landscape. Each element of their respective outfits is clearly shown and with accompanying editorial descriptions given (see below). However, in an age when the written word was savoured (far from the snippets of content we are used to today), the description of "Walking Dress" is in delicious detail and scrupulously accurate.
"A ROUND French robe, with bishop sleeve, of fine jaconot muslin, ornamented at the feet and wrists with a crescent broder of needle-work. A square neckerchief, of fine muslin, in folds. A short Roman coat, of amber or bright buff sarsnet, without sleeves, cut low round the bosom, and trimmed with a fall of French lace; ornamented round the bottom, and up the front, with a crescent border, corresponding with the robe, in shaded chenille. A mountain bat, composed of the same material, and ornamented with white crape. A foundling cap, of the same, with an autumnal flower in front. Half-boots of buff kids; parasol of crimson velvet; and gloves of pale Limeric. We take upon us to remark, that the length of the waist in this plate may be considered in the extreme, as few of our fair country-women seem disposed to depart from a becoming mediocrity in this particular."
Ironically the waistlines of both outfits shown in comparison are very similar but we would all agree, perhaps, that neither outfits were designed with the girl next door in mind!
The hand coloured, copper plate etching of "Walking Dress" forms part of the FARA Fine Art Prints & Multiples collection. It is attractively framed and comes with a certificate of authenticity. Why not extend your collection with this beautiful piece of art today?
N.B. Ackermann & Co. closed in 1855, but the print shop Ackermann & Son continued until 1992. Until very recently you could still see the business name on Lowndes Street, London SW1X 9HY, where Arthur Ackermann & Peter Johnson Ltd. had traded since 1952.