Fashion magazines in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were one of the prime ways of disseminating the latest fashion trends. They offered a variety of designs, accessories and beauty tips which enabled women to choose the right model for each occasion. Plus, some magazines began to publish colour plates, which provided a clearer picture of the designs and enabled readers to better appreciate their details.

The magazines showed both day dresses and evening gowns for special occasions, such as different society events or cultural or entertainment events, including visits to exhibitions, outings to the theatre or opera, concerts, parties, balls or horse races.

In this new exhibition of Unique documents we want to present some of the publications that showcase these special-occasion dresses.

We want to highlight the 1898 publication Les modes de Paris: variations du goût et de l’esthétique de la femme, 1797-1897 by Octave Uzanne, a French women’s fashion commentator, with colour illustrations by François Courboin (1865-1926), a prominent French engraver. The author devotes a chapter to “La Parisienne contemporaine”, where he refers to …toutes les toilettes qu’elles comptent porter aux courses, au theâtre, aux concerts, aux salons… with an illustration of opera clothing (1891). Document digitalised in the Digital Memory of Catalonia.

We are also exhibiting issue 3 from 1915 of the magazine Modas y pasatiempos, published in Madrid starting in 1903, which shows a variety of elegant and novel dresses for gatherings, balls or the theatre.

16. Elegant, novel suit

17. Elegant dress for dances or gatherings

19. Novel dress for theatre or gatherings

The magazine La moda elegante ilustrada, printed in Madrid from 1870 to 1927, also reported on Parisian fashion. A colour plate from this magazine is displayed: it was published on the 6th of November 1896 and depicts two women in a theatre box dressed for the occasion and holding opera glasses.

Finally, we are exhibiting the magazine Les modes, a monthly published in Paris by Manzi, Joyant et Cie between 1901 and 1937, which has been digitalised by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. We are specifically exhibiting issue 6 from 1901, where the section “La mode et les modes” details the sheer number of social events in Paris at that time, each of which required a different dress, and the importance of seeing and being seen at these events. Picture of a garden-party dress designed by Paquin.

The show is on display in the library of the Museu Tèxtil from Monday to Friday, 9:30 am to 2 pm, as well as Thursday afternoons from 4 to 7 pm, until mid-July.

Previous appointment required: or tel. 93.731.52.02.