Scope and Content
Title: Nineteenth-Century Fashion Plates Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1807-1876
Extent: 2 linear inches (68 plates)
Henry Madden Library (California State University, Fresno).
Sanoian Special Collections Library.
The plates were donated by Henry Miller Madden.
The collection is open for research.
[Identification of item], Nineteenth-Century Fashion Plates Collection, Sanoian Special
Collections Library, California State University, Fresno.
Engraved, hand-colored fashion plates were introduced in the beginning of the 1800s to
promote the clothing style of the times. Each era was dominated by a particular style,
commonly featured in women's magazines such as
English Woman's Domestic Magazineand
The Empire period lasted from 1803 to 1815. Emperor Napoleon I and Empress Josephine were
integral in setting the fashion for the period. Napoleon himself hired Leroy, a fashion
designer to dress the royal court. The Leroy gown was mandatory in Napoleon's court. The
basic design for dresses in this period were small puffed sleeves and bust-length
bodices. The neckline of the dress was cut low, often revealing the upper half of the
breasts. The skirt was long and usually plain in the front with some fullness in the
Although Leroy continued to be the leading fashion designer early in the period, the
Romantic period (1816-1870) did away with the bust-high waistline, bringing it back to
the natural waistline. The straight boyish figure during the Empire period gave way to
the more fully rounded figure of the Romantic period. The Romantic period reverted to the
time of Marie Antoinette (1770) who made famous the exaggerated skirts that protruded
greatly at the hips. During the early part of the period the skirts were not as wide as
during the time of Marie Antoinette, but they became wider and wider towards the end of
In the Edwardian era (1870-1901) the style became contoured to the body. Unlike earlier
fashions, the goal was no longer to hide the figure of the body under layers of cloth but
rather to give women a more defined hour-glass shape. The dresses were extremely tight
around the hip area which caused difficulty in walking, sitting and other daily
activities. The corsets at the time were designed to cinch the waist and increase the
Scope and Content
The fashion plates measure 2 inches and date from 1807 to 1876. The collection is
arranged in three series: Empire Period, Romantic Period and Edwardian Era. The fashion
plates are individually hand-tinted. Many of the fashion plates originated from the
Modes de Paris, a fashion magazine.
Empire period series contains one fashion plate (1807)
showing a man and a woman. The woman is wearing the traditional chemise gown and is
adorned with a crown. The man is dressed in military style clothing. The clothes were
probably exclusively for use at Napoleon's court.
Romantic period plates (1836-1861) feature clothing
adorned with intricate detail and very full skirts. This craze for fullness first began
with just the back of the dress then gradually encompassing the entire waist.
The significant change in men's fashion during this period was from breeches (knee-length
pants) to full-length trousers. By the 1830s trousers became more tight fitting and
narrow. Men's suits were designed to emphasize the width of the shoulders and accent the
waistline. Popular accessories were the cane and top hat.
Edwardian era style of dress was radically different from
that of the Romantic period. Two fashion plates picture wedding dresses designed in
typical Edwardian fashion. There is an absence of fashion for men in this era. This can
be attributed to a variety of reasons but one explanation is that men's fashion changed
very little from the Romantic period over the next hundred years.