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15 November 2017

South Tyrol tour, part 1: Castle hopping, the finding of fashion and women's magazines of the mid-19th century, and the comparison to nowadays' fashion communication

South Tyrol tour, part 2: After walking through nature, I relaxed while reading at mid-19th century fashion magazines about women's movement activities

South Tyrol tour, part 3: Women as drivers of cabriolets, the depiction of women in art,... are themes in fashion and women's magazines of the years 1866, 1867

by Fashionoffice publisher Karin Sawetz

I used mountain tunnels, river bridges and walked through forests for getting to higher places with lovely views over the South Tyrolean landscape. Later in the afternoon, I continued reading the 'Damenkleider Magazin vereinigt mit Musterzeitung & Frauenzeitung' (could be translated as 'Women's Clothing Magazine united with Pattern Journal & Women's Journal'), published by the J. B. Metzler'schen Buchhandlung in Stuttgart, Germany. 

At the issue of 1st June 1867, the magazine reports under the title 'Weibliche Eitelkeit' (translated 'Female Vanity') about the new fashion of French women to drive cabriolets (wagons with foldable roof). These cabriolets were favored by elegant women who drove them alone in Paris. "What a confusion!" is the situation described at the article. Emperor Ludwig XV. and his police chief developed a strategy to prevent accidents in future; the chief's idea was a new rule that allowed every woman who is older than 30 years to drive such a vehicle. Two days later, the new trend of driving cabriolets had found an end as - according to the article - women didn't dare to confess that they are older than 30 years. Well, the story can be true or not. 150 years are lying between the female cabriolet drivers from Paris and nowadays but when in the early 21st century the government of a country where driving cars by women is still forbidden announces to open the streets for female drivers, media all over the world report from men's sensational new ruling concerning the personal freedom of women. During the last century in Western countries, the car industry has reacted on the female market and turned cars, motorcycles, bicycles, scooters,... to almost gender-equal themes in magazines such as the editorial 'motor' articles on are addressed to everybody, no matter what gender, like the recently released about a new electric kick-scooter.

The literally eye-catching difference between mid-19th century articles and 21st century lifestyle communication is the visual richness of reports nowadays. At the issues of 1866, 1867, no single photography can be found (the technology was in its early beginning). Articles such as the one about the female cabriolet drivers were not illustrated - neither by a photograph nor by a sketch. Illustrations concerned fashion drawings of the latest clothing, accessories, or shoes but didn't accompany other articles like it's common today.

Even when the theme of an article concerned the visual depiction of a woman and her clothing at an artwork, the readers had to use their foreknowledge and imagination to create the picture from the words such in the case of the article published at the issue of 15th December 1866 about a newly found tapestry showing Jeanne d'Arc's first meeting with Karl VII.. It was assumed that the textile work was made in time of the meeting. Jeanne d'Arc wore the same clothing how it's closely described in the process files of Rouen. According to the article, the tapestry had proven that many artworks with later creation date faked the clothing of Jeanne d'Arc. But it's not mentioned if the tapestry shows Jeanne d'Arc in men's or in women's wear. People hadn't too many opportunities to resolve this pciture-puzzle and it's even today not easy to find an image of the tapestry which was discovered once by the Sardinian Ambassador Marquis d'Azeglio in Lucerne. My online search led me to an article from 1859 published at The Spectator archive - without picture of the tapestry.

In today's communication of art, fashion or beauty, new works by artists or designers are depicted generously with photos and videos online. Furthermore, the products themselves carry in many cases picture-stories such as the flacon of 'The Real' eau de toilette of the 'Cheap & Chic' line by Moschino. The flacon represents flapper Olivia Oyl; the comic figure was created in 1919 for a daily newspaper comic strip and was joined ten years later by Popeye the Sailor. The bottle's black closure reminds the figure's iconic black hair styled with bun. Below the closure, the surrealistic face looks as if it's focusing on jewelry. It's painted in the height where the upper body of Olivia can be assumed. Below the waist line, Moschino Art Director Jeremy Scott created a transparent ocean-blue dress decorated with lips and jewelry. The female treasure seeker sculpture-perfume-bottle is a classical applied arts object for at home.

Bringing art through fashion to the homes of women isn't new! At the magazine samples of the mid-19th century, colored prints - the 'Modekupfer' (on view left at the image below), were delivered like posters for the application on the wall. Art was one of the important topics of writers who delivered articles about high-culture such as literature or opera performances in the format of blog-like personal experience reports or novel-like short essays - only without accompanying depictions of a book cover, the portrait of an author, or the picture of performers on the theater stage.

'South Tyrol tour, part 4': Dresses made of toxic fabrics,... - fashion themes in 1866, 1867 and the comparison of mid-19th century journalism and 21st century fashion, beauty communication

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