Revolution Timeline: Politics & Fashion

  • 1789

    A Revolution
    Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
    Beginnings of a constitutional monarchy.

  • 1790

    Liberalization of the press, which frees editors to found magazines and determine their content.

  • 1791

    Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen.

  • 1792

    Fall of the French monarchy, start of the first French Republic.

  • 1793

    Abolition of the guilds that had controlled the fashion trades for centuries, freeing them from traditional style, technique, and production rules.

  • 1793-94

    Reign of Terror, the most extreme phase of the Revolution.

  • 1794

    Abolition of slavery in France and on French territories
    Coup d’état of Thermidor: end of the reign of Terror.
    Among others freed from prison, Teresa Cabarrus, soon to become Madame Tallien, is released and begins to wear her prison underwear as outerwear in public.

  • 1795-99

    Directoire phase of the French Republic, led by Barras.
    Abrupt rise to wealth of a new class, often based economically on currency or military supply speculation, and culturally on informal gatherings of both old regime aristocrats and the newly wealthy, notably in the Salons of Juliette Récamier and Teresa Tallien.

  • 1795

    Meeting of General Napoléon Bonaparte, a rising young star in the French Republic’s army, with Rose de Beauharnais, soon to be called Joséphine, style leader of the Directoire.

  • 1797

    First issue of the Journal des dames et des modes, founded by Jean-Batiste Sellèque.

  • 1799

    Sellèque dies, L’abbé Pierre La Mésangère becomes sole editor in January 1800

  • 1799-1804

    Consulat phase of the French Republic.
    Simultaneous return toward authoritarian government and consolidation of many revolutionary republican changes. Individualist consumer culture thrives.

  • 1802

    Reinstatement of slavery in French territories.

  • 1804

    Napoleon crowns himself Emperor of the French.
    Through Josephine, Napoleon begins to reverse the style revolution in women’s fashion, with costumes designed by Isabey.

  • 1814

    Fall of Napoleon and restoration of the monarchy

  • 1839

    Last issue of the Journal des dames et des modes.

Who's who?

Josephine Bonaparte

Joséphine Bonaparte

Fashion Leader

Joséphine Bonaparte

Born on the Caribbean island of Martinique, then a French colony, to a wealthy white Creole family, she first married Alexandre de Beauharnais who was guillotined during the Reign of Terror. Her second mariage, with Napoleon Bonaparte, made her Empress of the French in 1804.
Theresa Tallien

Thérésa Tallien

Fashion Leader

Thérésa Tallien

Juliette Recamier

Juliette Récamier

Fashion Leader

Juliette Récamier

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoléon Bonaparte


Napoléon Bonaparte

Paul Barras

Paul Barras


Paul Barras

Jean-Baptiste Isabey

Jean-Baptiste Isabey

Fashion Designer

Jean-Baptiste Isabey