Enlightenment à la Mode

This early example of a periodical featuring fashion and interior décor was published monthly in London from 1809 to 1828. Aflutter with glued-in fabric swatches of cotton, satin and wool, Ackermann’s Repository delighted stylish women and men in Britain and the United States. Although the dresses shown here are called “neoclassical” today, in their own day they were known as “Grecian robes.” Grecian style in furniture and dress was the first international aesthetic style to be fueled by the industrial revolution.

Among Ackermann’s fabric samples are examples of printed cotton with motifs applied by a metal roller, an innovation of the 1790s that underscores the close relationship among fashion, fabrics, and factories in the industrial revolution. Textile producers spurred the transition to mechanized labor even as the “ancient” styles they promoted looked back to a simpler age two thousand years before.