Gallery of Fashion, May 1799
Prints from this very expensive and exclusive magazine (the Queen was a subscriber) are said to represent the best and most fashionable dresses that are “not imaginary, but really existing ones.” They are not, however, the really existing ones of ordinary women, but only of “ladies of rank and fashion.” The prints themselves are lush and large and beautifully produced. One can only assume that the fashions represented were equally luxurious.
During this early period, waists had already risen to beneath the bosom, in the style we always associate with the Regency, but skirts were still somewhat full, often gathered high in the back with a small bustle. Note the dress on the left, which looks as if it is printed muslin, is in fact embroidered muslin.
Hats at this time are shaped close to the head with very narrow, if any, brim. (Compare them to 1795 examples, only 4 years earlier, when not only where the crowns and brims larger, but the hats exploded with tall feathers and bows, as here.)
The print is described in the magazine as follows:
“FIG. CCXVII. The front and hind hair cropped. Straw hat ornamented with bows and pink riband, and an artificial flower. Round gown of muslin, embroidered in colours; full short sleeves. Yellow shoes. Pink gloves.
“FIG. CCXVIII. The front hair cropped; the hind hair in small ringlets. Straw hat with a garland embroidery; the crown terminating on the left side, and finished with a tassel. White satin riband under the chin, tied on the left side into a bow. Round dress of British cambric: short sleeves, the upper part in small plaits; plain cuffs. Green silk scarf-shawl, with a crimson border, the end trimmed with a deep fringe. Gold hoop ear-rings. York tan gloves. Yellow shoes.”