Images which capture the fashion of women in London and Paris over a century ago
Street blogging may be considered to be a modern phenomenon, but a series of images unearthed by Kensington and Chelsea Libraries prove that the practice may date as far back as the early 1900’s.
The Library service has published several wonderful images by the late amateur photographer Edward Linley Sambourne, who was also the chief cartoonist for Punch, which give an amazing insight into the street style of the woman of London and Paris over a century ago.
Sambourne’s beautiful street photography captures the casual side of Edwardian fashion in a manner which is rarely seen
Taking a stroll: A young woman pictured in Cromwell Road, London on July 12th 1905 in a stylish white shirt with a belt and an ankle-length skirt (left) while another woman, who Sambourne describes as a 'shopgirl' walks along Kensington Church Street, on September 8th 1906
Time warp: A female cyclist fiddles with her hat in Kensington on September 8th 1906, a formally dressed woman in a white dress and a black handbag walks along the street on June 15th 1908 and a woman wearing a similar outfit strolls while engrossed in a book on June 30th 1908 (right)
In one image, which was taken in Cromwell Road , South Kensington in July 1906, a woman looks in the direction of the camera as she strolls along the street, dressed in an ankle length plaid skirt, matching jacket and a sophisticated hat.
In fact hats seems to be the most popular accessory of the woman pictured , and there is an eclectic mix of straw hats, church hats and veiled hats amongst all of the photographs.
However there is a distinct lack of handbags, with less than half of the unnamed subjects opting to carry what has now become a major staple of modern fashion.
In another image, a woman is seen walking along the pavement in Kensington guiding a cycle with one arm and rearranging her enormous hat with the other.
Two by two: Sambourne captures women holding books in Kensington on July 4th 1906 and a two friends walking together on July 4th 1906
Back to black: A woman looks in the direction of the camera as she strolls along the street, dressed in an ankle length plaid skirt, matching jacket and a sophisticated hat in Cornwall Gardens on February 20th 1906, while a second woman, also dressed in a dark outfit takes a walk on the same day
But perhaps the most modern image is of a young woman, who Sambourne describes as a ‘shop girl’, strolling down Kensington Church Street completely engrossed in a book.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the women of Paris are dressed slightly more stylishly than the Londoners with parasols being a common fixture.
While corsets and long, fitted dresses are undoubtedly the style of choice, there are also some shorter, below the knee styles on display.
Parisian chic: These images were taken during Sambourne’s trip to the French capital in 1906 and show women, men and young children out and about
Stylish: Sambourne's friend Helen du Bois is pictured playing handball in a formal dress on June 4th 1906 (far left and middle) and a stylish woman walks up a concrete staircase in Paris on the following day
The Parisian images were taken during Sambourne’s trip to the French capital in 1906.
The cartoonist took up photography as an aid to his art and took many fascinating images of Victorian/Edwardian society.
His wife Marion wrote in her diary that photography had become as much an obsession as a hobby.
Eclectic style: Two women, who are most likely in mourning, dressed in black lace (left), another pair of women lead a young girl down a staircase in Rue des Rivoli and a group of women holding parasols and wearing eyecatching hats walk along the Champs-Élysées
Street style: A couple walk along the Boulevard des Italien on June 5th 1906 (left), a group of women walk up the steps of the Rue de Rivoli on June 3rd 1906 and two well-dressed women stand in the streets of the French capital on the same day