Fashion plates are printed images of models wearing the latest fashions, often with hand-colored backgrounds. They are usually depicted in traditional, minimally narrative social contexts. These plates were popular from the late 18th century to the early 20th centuries. They were often distributed together with fashion magazines as either supplementary plates or integral parts of the editorial content. In his essay The Painter of Modern Life Charles Beaudelaire described fashion plates in the following way: they are an image of the ideal self and reflect the historical, artistic, moral, and aesthetic feelings of their time. In 1863, fashion plates were at their peak of development, he wrote this. While the primary purpose of fashion plates was to show new styles and sell more clothes they have a strong appeal that gives them a place in minor graphic arts. Unfortunately for students, fashion plates are often taken from the magazines where they were published and sold as collectors’ items. They lose much of their historical value.
The end of French Guild restrictions in 1777 opened up fashionable clothing to more people and created a flood of illustrated fashion materials. The Galerie des Modes et Costumes Francais is the best-known anthology, which includes around 200 to 400 color fashion plates. It was compiled from many sources by Esnaut and Rapilly, and illustrated most notably Watteau le Jeune and Desrais. J. M. Moreau drew the fine Suite d’Estampes pour serve a l’Histoire des Moeurs et du Costume (1778), with the stated goal of promoting French taste. Although it is often considered the epitome of French fashion, it serves more as a guide to the world and people who are fashionable in their particular context.
La Mesangere expanded the artist-illustrator range by publishing them in a series fashion and genre prints. These pictures are an example of the intimate picture series Gavarni and Deveria’s fashion plates, which were so common in the periodicals of 1830s and early 1840s, have been published. It was a successful formula that was continued by pochoir fashion illustrators in the 20th century, including George Barbier.
The male fashion model disappeared from fashion plates around this time. However, he was able to arrange and accessorize but lacked the vibrancy of fashionable men like Paul Gavarni or the Vernets.
High Quality Fashion Plates
These books are still available from large-scale French publishers as well as agents for foreign publications, such Goubaud or Mariton. The Colin sisters-Heloise Leloir and Anais Toudouze-were the most well-known and prolific artists of the 19th century. They, along with Jules David, were skilled in displaying the appropriate dress details in traditional evocative settings. American fashion can be modified from French designs, such as Godey’s Ladies Book or the publications of Mme Demorest. They may also include domestic appliances.