Historic Fashion Prints- L’Histoire du Costume Feminin de l’an 1037 a l’an 1870

This is a continuing glimpse into some rare books in the Ringling Museum Library’s collection focusing on the history of fashion. The next book on our agenda is…

L’Histoire du Costume Feminin de l’an 1037 a l’an 1870 by Paul Louise de Giafferri. Published by Editions Nilsson, Paris. 1922-23.

This book is a bound copy of ten sections or chapters. The material was originally published as ten separate sections, each focusing on a specific time period in French women’s fashions. Each section begins with a full page colored plate labeling the time frame for the coming chapter. The sections each begin with a text description of the time period and the attitudes of the women toward fashion as well as what fashions were evolving during the time period.  Then, each section then breaks down into twelve subsets the major aspects of fashion in each time period- “Robes, Manteaux, Chapeaux, Corsage, Jupes, Manches, Broderies, Etoffes, Lingeries, Rubans, Chaussures, Parures, and Colifichets” – “Dresses, Coats, Hats, Bodices, Skirts, Sleeves, Embroidery, Lingerie, Ribbons, Shoes, Jewelry and Knicknacks”- and discusses the major attributes of each.

This book discusses colors and styles extensively, and mentions important women who started or perpetuated the trends in each era. The book is a history of French women’s fashion, written in the 1920s, a full half century removed from the most recent era discussed in the book.

The most remarkable part of this volume is the sets of twelve plates at the end of each chapter that illustrate the twelve major aspects of dress discussed in the proceeding text. Each plate focuses on a single attribute, and has several numbered illustrations and accompanying text describing the color and important aspects of the styles. These color plates are beautiful examples of the hand-colored pochoir printing technique that was in its heyday in the 1920s. They also exemplify how French people in the early 20th Century thought about their fashion history.

This volume of French women’s fashion history and pochoir plates was a gift to the library from James Lovatt in 2000. Please enjoy the following section opening pochoir scenes from the volume.


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