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Fashion for Kensington Gardens

Preparing for Summer’s entertainments? Look no further than La Belle Assemmblée ( or Bell’s Court and Fashionable Magazine Addressed Particularly to the Ladies) produced by John Bell from 1806 until his retirement in 1821, and by G. & W. Whittaker & Co. from 1823–1829. La Belle Assemblée is now best known for its fashion plates of Regency era styles, but until the 1820s it also published original poetry and fiction, non-fiction articles on politics and science, book and theatre reviews, and serialized novels, including Oakwood Hall by Catherine Hutton. Other notable contributors to La Belle Assemblée include Mary Shelley. Contributions from readers were also encouraged and published. While each number of La Belle Assemblée typically contained five plates—one depicting a member of the court or fashionable society, two depicting the latest fashions, and a further two providing sheet music and a sewing pattern—the magazine was not dominated by the frivolities of fashionable dress. Indeed, Bell separated the portion of the work dealing with the fashions of the month from the remainder of the publication. One could (at least initially) purchase either of the two divisions of the work separately; the first consisting of the bulk of the letterpress, together with two of the plates, the second (‘La Belle Assemblée’) consisting of the fashion plates and sewing pattern, together, usually, with four pages describing the plates and discussing the latest London and Paris fashions The following “Fashions for August, 1807” offer an insider’s look at the fashionable attire of London’s elite

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