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The Most Expensive Fashion Magazine in the World - the Power of Pochoir

Posted on 05 February 2014

George LePape illustration of Paul Poiret dress Au Clair De La Lune
George LePape illustration of Paul Poiret dress Au Clair De La Lune

Would you pay over $400 a year for a magazine subscription? No? Well, that's what you would have had to pay if you were living between 1912 to 1925, and you wanted to buy the most important fashion and style magazine of the time.   La Gazette du Bon Ton brought its readers the best of fashion, lifestyle and beauty, but was available by only by subscription for 100 francs a year.

 

Ah! Le Bel Oiseau! Doucet fashion plate IX from Gazette du Bon Ton, Volume 2, No. 12 By H. Robert Dammy
Ah! Le Bel Oiseau! Doucet fashion plate IX from Gazette du Bon Ton, Volume 2, No. 12 By H. Robert Dammy

Founded in 1912 by Lucien Vogel, the magazine set out to be the most elite, refined style magazine of its day. From the Belle Epoque and Art Nouveau to Art Deco eras, the magazine catered to those with the most discriminate taste and a higher socio-economic class.  

 

Gose 1913 Art Deco Pochoir. - Blanc et Noir - Redfern fashion plateGose 1913 Art Deco Pochoir. - Blanc et Noir - Redfern fashion plate

 

Though some readers could never afford the lifestyle or fashions so beautifully displayed in La Gazette du Bon Ton, they simply enjoyed being transported to a fantastical world of beauty and glamour. Does that seem so different from those of us today who have stacks of Architectural Digest, Vogue or Bazaar magazines?

George Barbier hand colored print of evening dress by Worth Esperez

George Barbier hand colored print of evening dress by Worth Esperez

 

For some subscribers it was a way to have a first hand look into a life of style, leisure and social traditions that they had never been able to see for themselves.  

 

 

The artists included famous illustrators like, Georges Barbier, Erté (Romain de Tirtoff), Javier Gosé, Paul Iribe, Pierre Brissaud, André Edouard Marty, Thayaht (Ernesto Michahelles), Georges Lepape, Edouard Garcia Benito, Soeurs David (David Sisters), Pierre Mourgue, Robert Bonfils, Bernard Boutet de Monvel, Maurice Leroy, and Zyg Brunner.

 

Rosalinde George Barbier illustration of Worth fashion
Rosalinde George Barbier illustration of Worth fashion

One of the things that set the magazine apart was the artwork.  The illustrations were done by many of the most important Art Deco artists and illustrators of the time.

 

L'Adieu Dans La Nuit André Edouard illustration of Paquin evening gown

L'Adieu Dans La Nuit André Edouard illustration of Paquin evening gown

 

Each of La Gazette du Bon Ton's 70 issues contained ten unbound, high-quality, hand-colored pochoir prints.  "Pochoir" is the French word for stencil, and this type of print making was very popular in France in the early 1900s.  It is a very labor intensive process that involves applying color by hand using up to 30 different stencils for each image. Each plate is an original print that is hand colored and most are signed in the plate by the illustrator. 

 

Le Miroir Ancien - Robe du soir de Paquin, plate V from Gazette du Bon Ton, Volume 1, No. 3 by Maggie

Le Miroir Ancien - Robe du soir de Paquin, plate V from Gazette du Bon Ton, Volume 1, No. 3 by Maggie

 

Unlike their contemporaries, these artists drew the clothing on models in narrative poses, which in the day was very unique and much different than the still, mannequin poses that were more commonly used in fashion illustrations. Even the paper was a much higher quality than that of other magazines of the day.

George Martin illustration of Refern fashion plate De La Pomme Aux Lèvres  Gazette du Bon Ton, Volume 1, No. 4 George Martin illustration of Refern fashion plate De La Pomme Aux Lèvres  Gazette du Bon Ton, Volume 1, No. 4

 

Some of the most recognizable illustrations of fashion from the teens and 20s were those in the Gazette, and you will probably be familiar with many of them already.

A la Comédie, Manteau de Théâtre par Paquin, Javier Gosé
A la Comédie, Manteau de Théâtre par Paquin, Javier Gosé

 

These prints are now highly collectible works of art.  A collection of Gazette du bon ton volumes were recently sold at a Bonhams Auction for over $5000.
 

Etienne Drian illustration En Suivant Les Operations
Etienne Drian illustration En Suivant Les Operations

In addition to the couture fashion illustrations, each issue of the magazine included three prints of fanciful designs created by the illustrators themselves.  Those illustrations represented both the artist's interpretation of the current fashions and a commentary on the people wearing them.  They almost remind me of elegant political cartoons, but with less satire and, of course, they are much more beautiful!  

 

George Martin illustration Quelques Bagues - Un bijou Tecla complete une robe

George Martin illustration Quelques Bagues - Un bijou Tecla complete une robe

George Lepape illustration - Pour Les Beaux Jours

George Lepape illustration - Pour Les Beaux Jours

Vladimir Barjansky illustration of ballerina Paulette Duval

Vladimir Barjansky illustration of ballerina Paulette Duval

 

Incredibly magical dance and theatre costumes were also included in the illustrations.

Jeanne Marnac theatrical costume - Georges Barbier
Jeanne Marnac theatrical costume - Georges Barbier

La Gazette du Bon Ton was the first magazine to demand exclusive contracts with the designers whose fashions were featured within its pages. In keeping with their demand for excellence, the designers they chose included seven of Paris's top couture houses – Madeleine Chéruit, Georges Doeuillet, Jacques Doucet, Jeanne Paquin, Paul Poiret, Redfern & Sons, and Charles Worth.  Later, other couturiers like Madeline Vionnet would join the list of the magazine's featured designers.

L'Orage Vionnet fashion plate by Thayaht

L'Orage Vionnet fashion plate by Thayaht

George Lepape Lassitude Paul Poiret fashion plate

George Lepape Lassitude Paul Poiret fashion plate

 

Enjoy below of some of the incredible images from the pages of one of the most important fashion publications of all time!

 

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