Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: Fashion Plate from La Belle Assemblée, 1828

Fashion Plate, 1828
From La Belle Assemblee
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Let’s have a ball today, shall we? In honor of today's "Exceptional Person," an exceptionally glamourous one at that, I thought it only appropriate that we should look at elegant ladies throughout history. 

 So, let’s begin with his lovely drawing—a fashion plate, in fact.

This fashion plate was printed, in 1828, in the periodical “La Belle Assemblée” or Bell's Court and Fashionable Magazine Addressed Particularly to the Ladies.
 This rather clumsily named magazine was published between 1806 and 1868. “La Belle Assemblée” was an early example of a women's magazine, and was filled with articles about celebrities and royalty, etiquette advice, beauty and cosmetic instructions and advertisements selling make-up and corsets. It also carried social information, mild gossp and information about births, marriages and deaths.

This particular plate is from the March, 1828 edition.

Fashion plates, such as this one, showed the latest dress styles, with written descriptions, detailing the hairstyle, accessories and materials used, so that the ladies at home could recreate the look.  Since people cared about how they looked in the Nineteenth Century, fashions often changed from month to month—not a lot, but just enough to make a lady feel very out of place if she didn’t keep up.  Given this, very specific information about the trends of each month was printed in order to avoid societal embarassment.

This plate shows an evening dress and a ball dress. Both outfits, of course, include gloves, elaborate hairstyles and narrow shoes. The waists of the gowns, as was the style of the time (to quote Abraham Simpson) are tiny and the skirts full.

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