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Book of 19th Century Fashions Gets a Makeover

The scrapbook
The scrapbook
The scrapbook
Written by
Colin Buttimer
Published date
01 August 2014

The scrapbookFor her final project, Camberwell conservation student Corinne Henderson breathed new life into a scrapbook of 19th century fashion plates from our museum.

The book contains 191 plates taken from a variety of English and French publications, including Lady’s Magazine and La Belle Assemble. The images, which are predominantly hand-coloured engravings, depict society women’s dress from 1800 to 1890. They offer a fascinating insight into the contemporary culture.

Fashion plates were published in magazines from the late 18th century and throughout the 1900s, and were a popular way for people to stay up to date with the latest high-class fashions. They are rather specific, with titles including “morning dresses for July 1800” and “evening promenade dress in May 1809”.

Looking smart

Although it is not known when the book was compiled, it was probably created in the 20th Century as a source of reference and inspiration for costume students. The scrapbook is part of a small collection of two other books – one covering mostly male fashions, and the other accessories and ephemera.

The condition of the book prior to treatment was poor, but Corinne managed to get it into a fit state for handling, display and research. She worked with our Head of Museum, Judy Willcocks, to make sure she did so without damaging the scrapbook’s integrity.

Thanks to Corinne, the book is now fully functional as a scrapbook and available in the Museum for people who want to see it. You can read full details about the restoration process on her blog.

More information:
Corinne’s blog
Our Museum and Study Collection
Judy Willcocks profile