The name of this site is derived from a late 19th century bilingual fashion magazine that was published in French and German - both in one issue.
These pages have, in the beginning, been dedicated to the fashion of the late 19th and early 20th century, especially to sewing patterns, the reason being that all my original (i.e. copyright-free) sources were from those eras. It was the lack of such material, and my own difficulties finding any, outside expensive books, that gave me the idea of sharing whatever I had via the internet. My love, however, is for the fashion of the Rococo, so I'm always striving to extend the site in that direction. And all the other eras... what a wealth of fascination!
My intention is to cater to whoever has an interest in and needs information about historical costume, be it theatre costume designers or reenactors, students of fashion design or doll makers. I always try to make apparent whether the content is based on conjecture or documented facts, so that scientists and professionals can profit as much interested amateurs.
My own background in costuming is rooted in...
a) the university study of consumer and fashion
sociology, i.e. how fashion changes according to general social principles
and their change in time, and how fashion is used to express social statements,
b) amateur sewing: The first thing I ever did was the most complicated suit jacket available and from then on customised standard patterns in the way of "How do I combine a corsage pattern and a width of cloth for a skirt to make a Rococo style ball dress?"
c) collecting and diligently studying antique books, magazines, pictures and patterns as far as money allows. Thanks to ebay and the rare luck of finding employment (-> a regular income - wow!) I've meanwhile managed to extend my collection of original material. It now covers 1715 to 1980s.. with a few gaps, of course.
Sometimes I'm asked about the, well, reliability of my site, usually
by students who want to use its contents in their theses.
I've got a master's degree in humanities under my belt, so I know how scientific work is done. I still go by the rules I've learned in my university years: Collect sources, examine them, and compare the statements to others to test their reliablility. I don't regard anything as documented unless the source is either contemporary to whatever item I want documentation for, or if the source quotes an identifiable contemporary source. Costume history is full of urban legends - and of scholars who simply quoted sources that quoted sources that quoted... well, ultimately someone's cousin's friend, for all I know. Whatever statement you find on this site has undergone such quality control. If it isn't contemporary, it's treated with care, and if it is, I still examine the context. There are, after all, contemporary texts that used deliberate exaggeration ("neckline down to the navel" style of thing). Same goes for the pictures: They're all contemporary, with the obviously nonstandard ones (e.g. pastoral scenes or masquerades) either weeded out or identified as such.
There used to be "a word on copyright" here, but it's been moved to a page of its own.
Content, layout and images of this page
and any sub-page of the domains marquise.de, contouche.de, lumieres.de, manteau.de and costumebase.org are copyright (c) 1997-2019 by Alexa Bender. All rights reserved. See Copyright Page.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.