Monday, February 02, 2009
Harper's Bazar Nineteenth Century Fashion: All Online
A red-letter day! Cornell University's HEARTH site put much of Harper's Bazar online...from the magazine's inception in 1867, in fact, until 1900. I am enchanted.
One of the sources for high-style fashion news in America, the magazine's engravings are superb, and the text is full of fashion news, sewing and needlework instructions, fashion plates, articles and poetry, and in every other issue, a full set of patterns, too. Sadly, Cornell has no plans to post the pattern supplements. I wrote to ask them about it and they replied the same day.
Here is a sample of text describing the carriage dresses featured on the July 18, 1868 cover:
1. Dress of blue silk, with tablier simulated by a puffing of the same, edged with narrow black lace, which begins at the waist, and sloping on each side borders the entire bottom of the dress, excepting the front breadth. Two similar rows of puffing, separated by black lace, are set above this on the bottom of the skirt. A row of silk bows, composed of four loops without ends, are set down the middle of the front breadth, in the manner of buttons. Large carriage mantle, with "full slashed sleeves, of black cashmere, lined with rose-colored silk, and trimmed with gold fringe and galloon. Black lace bonnet, with gilt diadem, and red rose and leaves at the side.
Fig. 2. Dress of changeable silk (gorge de pigeon) trimmed with a box-pleated flounce. Black lace mantelet attached to the bonnet. Corsage half low, with white muslin chemise Russe. Sleeves tight, trimmed with three silk folds. Belt edged with a bias fold of silk. Half long gloves of peau de Suede; changeable silk parasol, to match the dress, lined with white gros de Naples, with wide changeable fringe.
You see? Incredible detail.
Some of the plates and patterns in Harper's Bazar are the same as those in De Gracieuse of the Netherlands, and the supplements for that magazine are available online (see my Fashion Plate and Photo Sources list for details). Why are the patterns the same, you might ask? Because Harper's Bazar took much of its content from Die Modenwelt in Berlin, which in turn seems to have copied Paris fashions.* America still leaned heavily on Europe for fashion instruction in those days.
The posted pages are fairly well scanned, although many seem a little dark, and the text is fully searchable, a real boon.
See the magazine index.
* The book Producing Fashion: Commerce, Culture, and Consumers, by Regina Lee Blaszczyk (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007) states that Die Modenwelt was published across Europe, using the same fashion plates, in some 13 languages. De Gracieuse, I surmise, was one of these.