Posts Tagged ‘La Belle Assemblee 1807’

Morning Dress and Full Dress, 1807 La Belle Assemblee

When it first appeared in February 1806, La Belle Assemblée claimed to be ‘an entirely original and most interesting work, addressed to the ladies’. However, the new magazine entered a market that was already well established. Periodicals directed particularly at leisured women had existed since the late seventeenth century, and with the success of the Lady’s Magazine (1770–1837), the monthly magazine became an established form. The new magazine, however, had a distinctive flamboyance in its elegant combination of polite literature and illustrated accounts of the fashionable world. It was the production of John Bell (1745–1831), a printer and publisher of considerable reputation and style who was renowned for his puckishness and love of innovation, not least in introducing modern type-faces to British readers.- Science in the 19th Century Periodical

Not all fashion plates were created equal. La Belle Assemblée came out in two forms, one at half-a-crown with plain fashion-plate and one at three shillings and sixpence with the plates coloured by hand. * The difference in treatment can be seen in the fashion plates below.

An engraved plate from ‘La Belle Assemblée,. This is an early black and white plate from February 1807, featuring the Roxborough jacket and the Incognita hat – both drawn from fashions worn by the Duchess of Roxborough and a Miss Duncan.   Plate 1: A new spencer walking dress with the incognito hat, Plate 2: A full dress, the Roxborough jacket.

At 76, ten years before his death, John Bell sold the magazine. La Belle Assemblée predated Ackermann’s Repository of Arts (begun 1809 – 1827) by three years.  Obituary of John Bell, 1831:

At Fulham aged 86. John Bell esq formerly of the Strand bookseller. Few men have contributed more by their industry and good taste to the improvement of the graphic and typographic arts, witness his beautiful editions of the British Poets and Shakspeare. He was one of the original proprietors of the Morning Post and projector of that well established Sunday newspaper Bell’s Weekly Messenger. Another of his successful projects was the elegant monthly publication La Belle Assemblée.The Gentleman’s magazine, Volume 101, Part 1 By John Nichols

La Belle Assemblee Morning and Afternoon Walking Dress, November 1807

More on the topic

*Hand coloured fashion plates, 1770 to 1899 By Vyvyan Beresford Holland

Colored Fashion Plate (The Roxborough Jacket – A New Spencer Walking Dress), February 1807 LACMA Collections Online

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Inquiring readers,

This fashion plate and accompanying description come from La Belle Assemblée Or, Bell’s Court Fashionable Magazine, August 1807, Volume III edition. The descriptions about dress are directly from the magazine. The publication featured quality engravings and advice about women’s fashions that became an essential part of the magazine, and also offered a special supplement of advertisements in the back that became a permanent record of commerce and fashion of the time. – A Magazine of Her Own, Margaret Beetham, p. 32. By the 1830’s, La Belle Assemblee, which had been such a force during the mid-18th to early 19th centuries, had merged with Lady’s Magazine before quietly dropping out of sight.


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La Belle Assemblée Or, Bell’s Court and Fashionable Magazine

We scarcely ever witnessed a period when taste and fashion were more perfectly in unison, nor any season when elegance and grace shone with such unrivalled fascination. Not only amidst the ranks of assemblies and opulence, but in those simple unobtrusive adornments appropriated to the intermediate station — in those chaste habits becoming such as move in a more domesticated sphere, have our fair country women exhibited testimonies of their advancement in taste and the graces of life.

The era is long since past when the daughters of our Isle condescended to turn copyists; and the females of a neighbouring kingdom are now happy to aid their exhausted inventions by adopting the correct graces of English style.

Frocks of coloured muslin or Italian crape with a painted border of shells in Mosaic worn over white sarsnet slip, are a new and elegant article; and French veils of coloured gauze forming at once the head dress and drapery are considered as most graceful ornaments. They are usually worn with a plain white sarsnet or muslin gown, with flowers or wreaths in front of the hair, placed towards the left side so as nearly obscure the eyebrow. La Belle Assemblée Or, Bell’s Court and Fashionable Magazine, 1807

Fronticepiece of the magazine

Fronticepiece of the magazine

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