In the last post I mentioned the August 1795 issue of the German magazine Journal des Luxus und der Moden. Here is a translation I made of the first section of the August number (pages 389-390) that talked specifically about fashion. Subsequent sections follow in a few days; I am stretching out the posts for ease.
Being neither a native German speaker nor having experience with 18th century German, reading the journal was a bit of an adventure, and I couldn't make out all of the words. Still, the result may help those of you interested in this era to understand some of the finer details of then-current modes. So, here we go. For each section, first the German version as well as I could make it out in the Fraktur typface, then the English translation. I tried to stick closely to the original sentence construction, or as close as may be done in English, so as to preserve as much as possible the feel of how the author said what he or she did. Also, given that each page of the journal was typeset and printed by hand, sometimes characters did not print properly, leaving empty spaces. Readers of the day most probably had little trouble filling in these blanks, where I find them really perplexing.
A note: Thank you, Sabine, for your kind help and comments about the term "Tracht" and "seit einiger Zeit". Most appreciated, and they make me feel better to know I've done an okay job with the translation.
London den 3ten July 1795.Eigentliche Neuigkeiten von Kleidermoden kann ich Ihnen durchaus nicht melden, da jeßt äusserst selten etwas zur allgemain herlichenden und wirtlich bermerkbaren Mode wird. Die Haupttheater, und mit ihnen die eigentlichen Sammel-plätze, wo neue Mode-Erfirdungen zur Schau getrugan under schnell verbreitet werden, sind in dieser Jahreszeit geschlossen. Nur Eine Bemerkung will ich hier anführen, die sich mir seit einiger Zeit ehr lebhaft aufgedrungen hat. Um sich ohne Affectation stark pudern lassen zu können, muß man hier zeßt in voller Kleidung, im Full dress seyn. Frauenzimmer, besonders die jugendichern (?), tragen in der weinger gepußten und streifen Kleidung, in der man sich gewöhnlich uch dem Publikum zeigt, die Haare nachläsig in Locken geshlagen, und fast gar nich gepudert, einige -- doch kommt dieß immer mehr ab -- auch ganz heriengeklämt. Eben dieß ist der Fall bey den Herren. Nun ist aber jeßt das gepuderte Haar ein Zeichen des loyalen Patriotismus geworden, weil es eine Taxe bezalt, die zur Fortseßung des Kriegs unentbehrlich war. Man sieht daher jeßt im Allgemeinen weit häufiger Personen beyder Geschlechte auch an solchen Orten unde bey solchen Gelegenheiten im vollen Anzuge, wo man sonst im Tracht oder einem zierlichen Negligee zu escheinen gewohnt war.
[the text moves on to other topics, such as literary works and the theater.]
New Things in Fashion
London the 3rd of July 1795.
Actually I cannot quite offer you anything new about fashion, since now there is [äusserst] seldom anything that rules and is truly worthy of notice. The central theater, and with it the actual gathering places, where new fashion inventions are shown and are quickly spread, are closed this time of year. I will make just one observation, which has recently forced itself upon me. In order without affection to be able to strongly powder [one's hair], one must be in full clothing, in Full Dress. Women, especially the younger ones, wear less polished/fussed over and stiff clothing, than which one normally shows to the public, the hair thrown carelessly in locks, and almost entirely unpowdered; a few -- indeed these appear ever more -- entirely uncombed. This is even the case among the gentlemen. Now powdered hair has become a sign of loyal patriotism, because it is taxed, this was for the continuation of the [unentbehrlich] war. So now one sees all across the land more frequently people at home and also in such places and in such occasions in full dress, where one was used to appear in normal dress or in a dainty Negligee (morning or traveling dress).
Fascinating, eh? Three points:
- Fashions are spread by the upper class, who come up with new looks and display them at the theater and other gathering places, which in those days would have included London's pleasure parks.
- The author believes that the tendency to go out in public "carelessly" put together was partly a result of the taxation of hair powder. So the young, even the men, go out barely powdered and combed, while those who stick to "strong" powder appear in full dress, and it's a sign of patriotism to do so. So here is one perception of what caused the decline in the use of powder.
- The term "Tracht" appears quite often in these pages. I am taking the liberty of quoting Sabine from Kleidung um 1800, who explained the term this way: "'Tracht' is a very old German word, which - in its origin - simply meant 'what one wears'. That could be referred to work clothes for which most professions called, as well as for folk groups from different areas across Germany. It was simply the dress that a person usually wears. The 'negligee' back then meant casual daywear (morning dress, travelling clothes etc) in comparison to the official garments 'Parure' and 'Grand Parure'."
Next time, a translation of the description of the August issue's first of two fashion plates.