Fashion magazines are an essential component of the fashion industry. They are the medium that conveys and promotes the design’s vision to the eventual purchaser. Balancing the priorities has led to the diversity of the modern periodical market.
Fashion, except in its lifestyle sense or as a byword for vanity, played no part in early periodical literature. In 1678, however, Donneau de Vise first included an illustrated description of French fashions with suppliers’ names in his ladies magazine, Le Mercure galant, which is considered the direct ancestor of modern fashion reports.
Thereafter, fashion news rarely reappeared in periodical literature until the mid-eighteenth century when it wasincluded in the popular ladies handbooks and diaries. Apparently in response to readers’ requests, such coverage to the popular Lady’s Magazine (1770–1832) was added to the genteel poems, music, and fiction that other journals were already offering to their middle-class readers.
By the end of the eighteenth century, Lady’s Magazine had been joined by many periodicals catering to an affluent aspirational society. Interest in fashion was widespread and it was included in quality general readership journals such as the Frankfurt Journal der Luxus und der Moden (1786–1827) and Ackermann’s Repository of the Arts, Literature, Commerce, Fashion and Politics (1809–1828) as well as those specifically for ladies. Despite the continental wars, French style was paramount and found their way into most English journals. Very popular with dressmakers was Townsend’s Quarterly (later Monthly) Selection of Parisian Costumes (1825–1888), beautifully produced unattributed illustrations with minimal comment. The journals were generally elite productions, well illustrated and highly priced, though cheaper if uncolored.