To answer the questions we ask about the fashion press of the 21st century can be answered traveling through time up to three centuries ago and that is precisely the main objective of ¡Extra, Moda !, a beautiful exhibition located in thE Museo del Traje of Madrid.
The show starts in the 16th century. In this a key moment for fashion, a series of illustrated publications that begin to speak on the subject of clothing, first in codex format and then in book format already printed.
This is the primordial broth of current fashion publications because they begin to represent people dressed in different ways with explanations about the dresses they wear or the accessories that accompany them, in addition to the country or social class to which they belong.
The German Christoph Weiditz makes a trip to the court of Carlos V in which he passes through Holland, disembarking in Santander and traveling to Granada. Both in his outward journey and in the return trip he made in Italy, he made a series of sketches of the costumes that he finds along the way.
In the second half of this century, Cesare Vecellio, located in Venice, the most cosmopolitan point in Europe at that time, is responsible for collecting a comprehensive sample of characters from all over the world. At that time it is not yet a fashion magazine, but a register of costume typologies.
In the court of Louis XIV, due to the collaboration of the monarch with his finance minister, the first fashion system is based on the luxury industry that includes furniture, perfumes, clothing etc … to place France as a reference for luxury worldwide increasing its economy capacity. Le Mercure Galant would be born then, publishing in 1678 his first fashion number, with news and figurines, dedicated to the court of Versailles, both for men and women. At that time men’s fashion is almost more important than women’s, and now that the man adorned, his garments, something that lasted until the nineteenth century.
The publication then gave all the information about the garments, framing them in a season, in addition to informing about the places where the fabrics or accessories were to be bought.
Paris was the nerve center of fashion. There the figurines were created, colored and then distributed throughout Europe and included in the different publications of the different countries. In Spain, the first periodic publication aimed at a female audience is La Pensadora Gaditana. These are weekly newsletters created by Beatriz Cienfuegos, with an ironic tone on the issues of female life, which also has a chapter dedicated to fashion.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the masculine aesthetic began to be established based on comfort, which is maintained throughout the century with a suit that consists of three pieces: tails, vest and pants. This dandy figure, a fashion-loving man, is based on the gentleman George Brummel, who later named a well-known eau de cologne.
At that time, in 1822 in Spain, the first official fashion publication called El Periódico de las Damas was created, coinciding with the Liberal Triennium, coinciding with the freedom of the press and presenting the first Parisian figurines.
That is when men leave women as the main consumer of fashion and as a model. The change of tissues, or the change of silhouette in the women’s clothing, is then appreciated.
Just then, it was when Queen Victoria of England celebrated her wedding wearing a white dress, a fact that popularized lower social classes, who previously used her wedding dress for their daily lives.
The Museo del Traje have tried to get the public to understand the correlation between the real model and the figurine that appeared in fashion publications.
In Romanticism, the woman’s attire keeps a great symbolism, from the husband’s economic capacity, to his figure as an angel of the home. Fashion magazines of the time proposed designs of handbags or accessories, through patterns, so that the wife exercised her work without leaving her style aside.
In the middle of the nineteenth century, the first historical influencers arise, on the one hand Queen Victoria, who put on fashion the ceremonial weddings with banquet, specifically created white dress, bridal cake, something that is still maintained today, and on the other hand , the French Empress, Eugenia de Montijo.
The latter became fashionable worldwide, the Spanish mantilla. Its use was generalized not only as a complement, but as a garment, to make jackets and skirts.
At that time in Spain, the subscribers of fashion magazines appear, Queen Elizabeth II being the first subscriber of the publications, whose name worked as a quality brand for the publication.
There is then the great emergence of the Spanish fashion press, more than 30 publications appear, although they have a short life, they have a huge success among the female audience. Two of the great publications that remain for a longer time, are El Correo de la Moda and La Moda Elegante.
They are disseminated in these, figurines, proposals of sets, as well as tips on accessories and complements that can be modified to create a new look. This idea is something that prevails in today’s magazines, when magazines give ideas of different outfits that can be created by using the same garments and combining them in different ways.
At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the incorporation of women into the working world changes the forms of the dress again, incorporating comfort in the looks.
At that time advertising begins in fashion magazines. The brands publicize their products, taking advantage of the opportunity offered by the press. Also included in these publications are the costumes of the mask dances attended by the well-to-do classes as El Correo de la Moda did in 1867.
The commercialization of the portable sewing machine makes that following the figurines and patterns that come in the magazines any woman can make different garments at home, this being the great milestone of the democratization of fashion, approaching the design of the upper classes to The humblest classes.
Galería de la Moda Elegante or La Estación are two of the fashion publications in Spain that closes the exhibition. You can also see a copy of El Eco de la Moda, a publication that targets more active women, who already work or practice sports.
The final finishing touch of the exhibition is made by two of the most important fashion publications in the world, Harper’s Bazaar that took its first issue in 1867 and Vogue, which did it in 1892, marking the beginning of the new fashion magazines that is still in force today in day.
Extra Moda is an essential exhibition that helps us understand the link between the past and the present, showing that things in this area have not changed as much as we think.
¡Extra, Moda! in the Costume Museum, until March 1.