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Madame Lanchester. Fashion Plate from Vol 1.  hand coloured fashion plate, published April 1803. 


In 1803 Madame Lanchester a bespoke dressmaker (modiste) of 17, Bond Street, published Le Miroir de la Mode. It was a high-quality, large quarto-sized magazine with delicate and detailed dress designs. She  hoped perhaps that the magazine might emualte the success of  the Gallery of Fashion, another high-quality publication of similar format. Sadly, Le Miroir de la Mode did not survive  beyond 1804 which makes the plates quite rare.


Not much is known about the life of Madame Lanchester. She was English, known as Ann Lanchester, the title 'Madame' being introduced to provide an implied connection with Paris, the centre of world fashion. She was one of the most highly regarded dressmakers of the early 1800s and as well as drawing designs for Le Miroir de la Mode  also did designs for other publications including  Richard Philips Fashions of London and Paris (1798-1810). She later wrote fashion descriptions and commentary for Rudolph Ackermann's Repository of the Arts...etc.. In the inaugural issue the following note appears: "It is almost unnecessary to add that the design and description of the ladies' fashions of the month are under the direction of Madame Lanchester, whose taste in the department of ladies' dress and female ornaments is so well known as to render any eulogium unnecessary".Rudolph Ackermann, Repository, Vol. 1. (1809), p.52. 


Her fortunes waxed and waned, she twice filed for bankruptcy but more than once came fighting back. The following is an extract from  the front page of the Times, on Thursday 12th April 1810: "MADAME LANCHESTER begs most respectfully to acknowledge the high sense of gratitude she feels for the distinguished honour and liberal patronage she has long experienced from the Nobility and Gentry, whose polite and marked attention to her Fashionable Establishment, in St. James's-street, will forever be impressed on her mind,... she is happy in the opportunity of informing her friends and patrons that she has been enabled to resume her business with more advantages than heretofore, and to adopt such arrangements as will convince the Nobility, Gentry and public at large, that her future exertions shall be invariably devoted to merit a continuance of their patronage and kind indulgence..." Sadly it was not to last, by 1812 she was declared bankrupt and imprisoned in the Marshalsea. She was discharged a year later on the surety of the painter Arthur William Devis who was her husband but died five years later in 1818. 



Further Information:

Walking Dress - Framed Antique Print

SKU: 1032
  • Image Number: 1032
    Title: Walking Dress
    Publisher: Rudolph Ackermann
    Medium: Aquatint

    Framed size (h x w): 345 x 295mm

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