Regency Fashion Plates
I first saw these on eBay and they really took my interest. Fashion plates, such as these below which appeared in Ackermann’s and The Lady’s Magazine were the Regency equivalent of today’s Vogue or Glamour photo shoots.
As all garments during this period were made by hand, these plates would probably be handed to a woman’s local dressmaker with instructions to make the dress as best as they could. I should imagine that the quality of the workmanship and the availability of the necessary trimmings and fabrics were quite varied.
The descriptions provided with the dresses are very detailed, probably to help the dressmaker as much as possible. Here’s an example:
Invented by Miss Pierpont & engraved for the Lady’s Magazine 1826
Pelisse of cedar-colored gros de Naples lined with blue sarcenet: the pelisse made very simply, trimmed round only with a double rouleau; the body slightly drape a la Circassienne. A plaited frill of the same material as the pelisse, encircles the throat in lieu of a collar, surmounted by a triple ruff of Urling’s lace. The sleeves fit almost close to the arm, with a mancheron formed of one scallop indented round the edge. Bonnet of purple and yellow velvet trimmed with the same and with riband to correspond. Veil of black Chantilly lace. Muff of grey and white squirrel.
The fashion prints were usually engraved in black and white and then hand colored by teams of women. My favorites are the ones from Ackermann’s mainly because of the beauty of the faces. These days it’s actually a lot easier to find the prints than it is a whole edition of the magazines they came from because people obviously ripped them out and kept them.
Note how the fashion changes quite dramatically from the classic high-waisted gowns that epitomize our idea of the Regency to the lower waisted big-sleeved gowns of the mid 1820’s. I still prefer the earlier dresses.
Some of the prints do show some damage or have been cut to fit into a scrapbook or even pasted onto a backing. But they are almost 200 years old and still beautiful to look at, so I don’t mind that. I particularly like the one of the widow in mourning clothes, with her perfectly round face, flushed cheeks and lowered eyes.
Ackermann’s didn’t just produce fashion plates. They also included prints of fashionable styles of furniture and architecture as you can see below.
Fashion Plates Gallery
Images of Major Robert Kurland*
*Major Robert Kurland, late of the 10th Hussars, and heroically wounded at Waterloo, is the hero from DEATH COMES TO THE VILLAGE.