Ball Dress, September 1798

Gallery of Fashion, September, 1798.

“Ball Dress”

The Gallery of Fashion was a very expensive, very exclusive magazine published in London by Niklaus von Heideloff from 1794-1803. It was available only by subscription, and  subscribers included the Queen and several of the royal princesses. Prints from this magazine are scare, so those I own are treasured. These are very large prints, almost twice the size of the prints from Ackermann’s Repository or Arts or La Belle Assemblée at 12″ x 9 ½” (quarto size), and printed on high quality paper. The hand-coloring is much more precise and delicate than in other publications, and this was the first publication to use silver and gold metallic paints (as here, in the head-band and the silver cords on the dress). The high production values warranted the high price. (The Gallery of Fashion’s subscription price was of 3 guineas per year, the equivalent today of over $310.)

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

“Head-dress à la Niobe. The front hair cut short and combed straight; the sides in large loose plaits, turned round the head in the form of a bandeaux; part of the top thrown over the clasp in curls, the rest of the hair combed smooth, and finished behind in a bow. Pearl bandeaux fastened in the front, with a gold and purple enameled clasp in the form of a helmet. Gauze petticoat, trimmed at the bottom with a silver tissue ribband. Jacket of silver tissue, short close sleeves; the whole richly embroidered in wreaths of green leaves and red berries; the waist and shoulders ornamented with silver cords and tassels. Small plaiting of narrow lace round the bosom. Purple ear-rings and necklace. White gloves and shoes.”

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