The New York State Library's public floor exhibit for August features bygone periodicals in the field of women's fashion.
It is said that optimism will never die as long as full-color seed catalogs are published. What then can one say about fashion magazines? Two things come to mind—fashions change, and so do sensibilities. That is to say, not only don't you want to dress like that anymore, when it comes to those fashions that are less than timeless (like corsets, raccoon coats, and MC Hammer pants), but you don't necessarily want to think that way now either, particularly with regard to women's issues. With a magazine about cement (and there actually are some of those), for example, things are so much simpler. It's all about methodology, performance, and cost. Cement always ends up hard, and is usually gray.
Anyway, The Millinery Trade Review is a great repository of the fashion trends of the day, displayed here from the teens through the 1930s.
Mademoiselle, Fashion Accessories ("Incorporating Gloves Magazine" it says right on the front cover), and Hats (all about hats) give us a peek into the closets and dressers of the 1940s.
And following Vogue as it threads it way from the fab 1950s through the mod '60s and somewhat liberating '70s is a great lesson in the fickle nature of our daily apparel and the cunning manipulations of industry trendsetters who need to hawk new product to stay in business.
On the other hand there's something to be said for sartorial splendor, and these magazines do that quite nicely.
Exhibit curated by Shawn Purcell