Opera Dress, March 1809

Ackermann’s Repository of Arts, March 1809.

“Opera Dress”

This print is from the third issue of this magazine, and has only a very brief description of the dress. More detailed fashion descriptions, plus more general commentary on fashion, increased as Mr. Ackermann grew to understand that his primary audience was female.

Though the description says the hat and dress are purple, every copy I’ve seen of this print shows it as a sort of royal blue.

The print is described in the magazine as follows:

“Henry the Eighth hat of purple velvet trimmed with pearls, a dress of the same colour, with a white satin front trimmed with pearls, and fastened down the front with large white round pearls; a white satin Spanish mantle trimmed with swandown; white shoes and gloves, pearl ear-rings and necklaces, white and silver fans.”

In the General Observations on fashion, the following is found: “We have the pleasure to inform our fair readers that the fashions for the present month have been again furnished by Madame Lanchester, whose taste and elegance stand so high in the estimation of the fashionable world.”

Madame Lanchester was a very important modiste of this period. She even published her own fashion magazine from 1803-4, but it was a large, expensively produced publication that she no doubt could not afford to maintain. She is mentioned in most of the early issues of Ackermann’s Repository, and I would not be surprised to learn that she posed as the Arbiter Elegantarium who commented on fashion in subsequent issues. Madame Lanchester appeared in my book Once a Gentleman. You can read more about her on the Behind the Scenes page for that book.

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