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Early 19th Century Fashion Plates

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Early 19th Century Fashion Plates

12th Feb 2011 - 10th Jul 2011

In times of great change, fashion can be a barometer that reflects new ideas and even cultural shifts. 


This exhibition of exquisitely rendered fashion plates from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery collection depicts modes of dress during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The styles were linked not only to the French Revolution, but also associated with the romantic Regency period in Britain.


Women’s dress celebrated a less constricted feminine shape - hoops and padding were abandoned and corsets became less severe. Empress Joséphine of France, with her heightened sense of fashion, was instrumental in the adoption of the loose slim skirt and raised-waisted so-called ‘Empire-line’ dress. These simple styles were welcomed in England during the Regency Period (c1806-1830), and the new cotton processing mills were able to produce some very fine home-grown muslins and cottons suitable for the fashions of the time. 


The 45 hand-coloured etchings in the exhibition were published in Rudolph Ackermann’s journal which is now known as Ackermann’s Repository of Arts and the fashion illustrations are among those made famous in dramatised versions of Jane Austen novels.  

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