Morning Dresses: Fashions for June 1794

This picturesque fashion aquatint was published in Heideloff’s Gallery of Fashion in June 1794. Niklaus Wilhelm von Heideloff (1761-1837), a miniature painter from a long established family of Leipzig court artists, fled from Paris during the Revolution and found refuge in London. He began his Gallery of Fashion in 1794 and promised his subscribers, who paid a hefty three guineas annually for around 30 plates in twelve publications, a ‘collection of the most fashionable and elegant Dresses in Vogue.’  He asserted that the ensembles were copied by permission from ‘those worn by ladies of rank and fashion’ and here we see a lady and her daughters wearing stylish Morning Dresses for June.

Studying the fashions expertly delineated here, we see a chaste and pretty English version of the extreme neo-classical style being boldly paraded in France. The waistline was rising and the fine white chemise gown was in vogue this side of the Channel, but for day wear a tucker or chemisette modestly concealed the breast. An ornamental sash beneath the bust and a light shawl or stole, complimenting the colours of the profuse silk ribbon trimmings on the summer straw bonnet, created a picturesque, feminine effect. 

Heideloff’s aim to produce a superior journal featuring images of the highest quality that would attract ‘ladies of the highest fashion’ certainly succeeded: by 1797 his readers included Queen Charlotte, the Empress of Germany and many members of the European aristocracy, as well as the Russian and Turkish ambassadors. His Gallery of Fashion ran from 1794 until 1804, paving the way for the better-known but perhaps less refined fashion journals of the Regency period.