French Fashion Revolution

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From its birth in November 1785 until the start of the Revolution in 1789, the French fashion press sought to aid commerce. By presenting to subscribers commodities and advertisements that merchants provided to the publication editors, the fashion press functioned as a mediator between merchants and consumers. The editors of the fashion press considered fashions to move “presque toujours dans un cercle, ou dans une chaine sans fin;” however, the importance of variety for French commerce created an incentive for French fashions to change more rapidly than those of other countries. In an article titled “Fashionable Absurdities in France,” The Fashionable Magazine wrote that “it [French fashion] keeps one continual whirl like the fliers of a jack.” To defend the constant change in French fashions, and to explain England’s disdain for variety, the editor of the Magasin des modes nouvelles wrote: …show more content…
According to the Magasin des modes nouvelles, when a French woman wore a dress ‘à la Turque,’ she “remporte des triomphes plus sûrs & plus agréables que ceux d’une Georgienne ou Circassienne dans les Harems de Constantinople. Il n’est pas même de Sultane qui ne fût jalouse de son élégance, de sa grace, & des hommages qu’on lui rend.” Women’s superiority in dress became an argument used in editors’ nationalist discourses; editors of the French fashion press often presented ‘their’ women as more fashionable and better studied in the arts of la mode than their foreign counterparts. This practice was not unique to the French, The Fashionable Magazine similarly touted English women’s fashions as superior, dismissing French fashions as “objects of our imitation.” To the French fashion press editors, the change documented in their publications served as proof to all other nations that “leur [women’s] imagination ne se repose

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