A hundred years after the publication of the fashion magazine Journal des Dames et des Modes, (1912-1914), over one hundred of the Journals exquisite illustrations known as Costumes Parisiens, go on display at the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin Castle
The exhibition presents a vivid snapshot of culture and fashion in early 20th-century France. It also provides an exceptional opportunity for historians, artists and fashion designers to explore a glamorous period in fashion history and design, just before the outbreak of World War 1.
From the late 18th century, fashion magazines illustrated the latest styles with engravings known as fashion plates. With the introduction of photography, many of these journals no longer produced original prints. However, the early 20th century saw a revival of high quality fashion prints in magazines like the Journal des Dames et des Modes and it included prints designed by some of the most renowned fashion illustrators of the time, including George Barbier. Barbier was highly influential in the world of design and fashion illustration. The Journal was designed to appeal to the elite of Paris and to reflect the cultural life of the city at the time. It was produced to a very high standard from the quality of the paper to the breath-taking beauty of the prints. The Journal sought to equate fashion with the world of art and culture and its fashion plates became miniature masterpieces.
Published by Italian writer Tom Antongini, the magazine lasted only two years from 1912 to 1914. The seventy-nine issues published chronicled developments in fashion and lifestyle. The most distinctive feature of the magazine was its illustrations. Artists were given free rein to create illustrations inspired by contemporary styles, producing prints with a combination of copperplate engraving and pochoir (a stencil technique), a medium particularly suited to the simple lines and vibrant colours of the current fashions. For a brief moment, before the outbreak of World War 1, the Journal was one of the arbiters of Parisian culture.
It is likely that Chester Beattys fashion-conscious wife, Edith Dunn, prompted him to acquire the fashion magazines containing the prized fashion plates. New York society acclaimed Edith as one of the most beautiful women in America. In 1912, Chester Beatty purchased and renovated Baroda House, Kensington Palace Gardens, in preparation for the familys move to London. Chester and Edith shared a love of art and literature and she encouraged his collecting practices. A great connoisseur in her own right; she acquired one of the finest collections of French impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, in Europe.
The exhibition runs until 30 March 2014 before travelling to the Ulster Museum, Belfast, where it will open in June 2014.