The magazine was one of the fastest growing commodities in Victorian Britain, with about 12,500 titles appearing between 1824 and 1900. When Victoria came to the throne in 1837 the number of women's magazines was increasing rapidly as the mass market itself grew and diversified. Consumer culture was on the rise, and central to that were the commodities on sale.
Many social and cultural historians view the commodity as a spectacle that permeated the entire Victorian social system. Women's magazines, with their sumptuous visual illustrations, became spectacles in themselves. An interest in and celebration of fashion was something that all commercial magazines shared and even the non-commercial titles, such as those devoted to reform issues, covered fashion (constructed as so important to women's lives), if only to critique its pervasive and pernicious influence.
The dominant Victorian discourse of fashion represented it as progressive, linked to the market and to modernity, but at the same time others, particularly members of the dress reform movement, contested this view. The dissenters believed that fashion was regressive and unhealthy--they located the notion of progress and modernity in a rejection of the fashion system. So there are two different narratives of Victorian fashion: one that represents it as sumptuous spectacle and symbol of progress, and one, promoted by the anti-fashion lobby, that presented an alternative modern woman.
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|A Turn Toward the Bust: Early 20th Century||All Tied-Up: The Corset in Contemporary Fashion|
|Fashion | Page 1||Charles Frederick Worth||Court Fashion||Fashion Plates|
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|Victorian Age Fashion Galleries|