Ackermann’s fashion models are dressed for the cold in January 1812’s plates. The outfits worn both consist of multiple layers. For the lady in Plate 4 (“Half Dress”), both a “High Roman round robe,” a “Pomeranian mantle of silk,” and a “high standing collar of muslin or net” ; for the one in Plate 5 (“Carriage or Polish Walking costume”), a morning robe, a demi pelisse, and a pelerine. Both also rely on fur for warmth: sable fir trim on the half boots in Plate 4; “sable, oppennoch, or other tastefully contrasted fur” for the “Canonical cap” in Plate 5. Perhaps the editors suspected the spring and summer would be particularly cold? (See Pascal Bonenfant’s informative web site on “British Weather from 1700 to 1849” for more details).
Arbiter Elegantiarum returns this month to offer an assertion that his work criticizing current-day fashion is important:
“Dress has been so seldom made the subject of serious criticism by the writers of any age or country, that the observations which have appeared under this head in the former volumes of the Repository, whatever faults may have distinguished them, must, at least, be allowed the merit of novelty.”
Even literary men cannot escape his discerning eye. AE criticizes Alexander Pope, Waller, and Marmontel for the way each dresses his heroines in “silly and cumbrous appendages of fashion,” rather than the more “tasteful” costumes of which AE approves. He concludes by vowing to continue to offer both his praise and his anathemas “with a license unlimited, but by the anxiety I feel for their best interest, and the love I bear for the sex in general.” Not sure if I were a fashionable lady, I would have found his reassurances all that assuring…
This month’s fabric samples include the longest write-up of a single company I’ve yet to see in the magazine. Praise for the “house of Millard, in Cheapside” goes on for more than an entire column; was it the largest, or most prestigious, fabric shop of the period? The copy claims it is “unrivaled, both in the variety, richness, and elegance of its supplies; and possesses, at the same time, the advantages of a superior economy.” While some of Millard’s goods can be had for as low as a single shilling per yard, its Indian shawls can cost up to one hundred and fifty guineas!
Ackermann’s also seems prescient in featuring a “fine Merino wool of Wellington brown” amongst this month’s samples—did someone have the inside scoop that General Wellington would be raised from an earl to a marquess the following month?