About

This project is dedicated to the world’s most original and influential style magazine, the Journal des dames et des modes. The French Revolution of 1789 promised that all people could reinvent themselves. Between 1797 and 1804, after the political crisis of the first revolutionary years subsided, and before Napoleon demanded that women’s clothing become more conservative, the Journal des dames et des modes offered Europeans a startlingly new way to dress. It rejected the rules, shapes, and materials that had signaled static social rank in favor of mobile self-expression through consumer choice. This dramatic experiment in individualism freed men to dress as they have ever since, and for a brief time liberated women too.

Here you will find, online for the first time, all the Journal des dames et des modes plates from the magazine’s most surprising years, 1797-1804, together with their transcribed and translated captions. The digital images were made from an extremely rare, complete set of the engravings, in exceptionally good condition, belonging to the Morgan Library. Work on the vocabulary, text descriptions, locations, patterns, and historical context of the plates was begun by a faculty-student team based at Columbia University, and is ongoing.