Corinne Thépaut-Cabasset will give a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Monday, October 21, at 12:15 pm. Her talk is entitled, “The Marchands de Modes, or The Fashion Makers in Eighteenth-Century Paris.”

In his 1773 Dictionnaire raisonné universel des arts et métiers , Pierre Jaubert describes “The Marchand(e) de Modes [as one who] assembles and garnishes headdresses and, according to the fashion of the day, sews and arranges the embellishments such as gauze, ribbons, lattice, cut-out fabrics, furs, etc. on dresses and skirts and alters the shape of such ornaments to satisfy the tastes of the slaves to fashion.” The most well-known marchande de modes in the history of fashion is Rose Bertin, the so-called “minister of fashion” because of her services to the Queen of France, Marie-Antoinette. The rise of these influential artisans and their shops in the middle of the eighteenth century promoted consumption by encouraging the purchase of new garments and accessories among both elite women and a wider audience, and led to the establishment of an independent guild in 1776. The emergence of the marchands de modes evolved simultaneously with the creation of a regular fashion press in the late 1770s, with La Galerie des Modes (1778-1787) and Le Cabinet des modes (1785-1793).

Focusing on Mlle de Saint-Quentin (about whom nothing has been written) and her shop “Au Magnifique” in the rue Saint-Honoré, this talk will discuss the art and trade of the marchands de modes in late eighteenth-century Paris, through a variety of understudied documents including fashion plates, portraits, and newspapers articles. The reputation of Saint-Quentin’s shop was ensured by the Journal de Paris (1777-92), a daily newspaper which informed its readers of the latest fashionable novelties, thus promoting the marchands de modes.

Corinne Thépaut-Cabasset is an art historian specializing in early modern decorative arts, and a research associate at Versailles. She contributed to the international research project at the Victoria and Albert Museum led by Professor Evelyn Welch (Vice-principal King’s College London), “Fashioning the Early Modern: Creativity and Innovation in Europe 1500-1800,” funded by Humanities in the Research Area (HERA), which investigated the creativity and innovation that lay behind the creation and spread of fashionable goods in Early Modern Europe (2010-2013). In December 2015 her project “Dressing the New World: The Trade and the Culture of Clothing in the New Spanish Colonies 1500-1800” was awarded the Marie Curie Fellowship (Horizon 2020) at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) by the EU Commission. In 2017 she was a visiting fellow at Bard Graduate Center. She is the newly elected chair for the board of the international committee ICOM-Costume (2020-2022).