Fashion Plates


We know that European fashion information was brought back to Minnesota in various forms.  Existing issues of Le Bon Ton, a fashion journal primarily used by dressmakers, survive in museum collections in the Twin Cities, evidence of their availability to the custom trade.  As early as August 1849, Minnesota territorial pioneers were subscribing to Godey's Ladies Book for the latest fashion information. Godey's editor commented, "four subscribers in this remote settlement" sought the latest fashion information.

Custom dressmakers did not rely only on fashion periodicals, but made annual and even semi-annual buying and scouting trips. Mary Molloy in St. Paul, and Hattie McGahn and Rose Boyd in Minneapolis all advertise their Paris connections in newspaper reports of their trips or their ads in theatre programs and city directories. Their use of "Madame" in their labels or titles emphasized their European outlook.