New for Now

June 12 2015 to September 27 2015
Philips Wing

Before the advent of photography, fashion was mainly seen in prints. The often beautifully coloured designs showed one or several models wearing fashionable clothing, and included a short description. For that reason, these fashion prints in particular are considered the precursors to today's fashion magazines.

The origin of fashion magazines

From 12 June, the Rijksmuseum presents a major retrospective of its rich collection of costume and fashion prints for the first time. The change in women's and men's fashion from the year 1600 up to and including the first half of the 20th century, and the development of the fashion magazine into the fashion glossies we know today, can be seen in more than 300 prints. The exhibition was designed by designer and co-curator Christian Borstlap, in collaboration with fashion illustrators Piet Paris and Quentin Jones.

A great sense of elegance

poster The publishers of fashion prints did everything to make their product as attractive as possible. They attracted skilled illustrators for this purpose, some of whom went on to become specialists in this area: true ‘fashion illustrators’. The trick was to portray the models on the prints as skillfully as possible and with a great sense of elegance. The printmaker was responsible for transferring the design sketches onto an engraving that could reproduce the design. A so-called ‘colourist’ subsequently added colours to each individual image by hand.

New for Now shows prints by fashion designer Paul Poiret, among others. His ‘Fashion is Art’ statement marked the beginning of a new era. He presented his designs in two artfully designed series of works in bright opaque colours, which served as an inspiration for a number of artistically high-quality fashion magazines.

8,000 prints digitalised

Many of the prints shown are from two important collections acquired by the Rijksmuseum in 2009: the Raymond Gaudriault Collection and the MA Ghering-van Ierlant Collection. All 8,000 prints from these collections can be seen from June 2015 on the website. This is the result of a multi-year project in which the prints were catalogued, described and digitalised.


The exhibition is accompanied by a publication entitled New for Now, The Origin of Fashion Magazines. Authors: Georgette Koning and Els Verhaak. Design: Christian Borstlap. 203 pages, 139 ill. Price: € 20. For sale in the Rijksmuseum shop and the webshop.

New for Now. The Origin of Fashion Magazines can be seen from 12 June to 27 September 2015 in the Philips Wing of the Rijksmuseum.

Made possible by the Flora Fonds/Rijksmuseum Fonds.