London Fashion Umbrella: Women’s Weeklies from 1950s Italy

Image from the back cover of Eva magazine 20 November 1952

A recent trip to Naples, Italy, to conduct some genealogical research presented an opportunity for me to have a satisfying rummage around the city’s secondhand and antiquarian bookshops with an eye towards all things “moda.”

Suggestions for wearing two-piece ensembles, from Alba May 8, 1952

Although I was very tempted to take home an original four volume set of Usi e Costumi Antichi e Moderni di Tutti Popoli del Mondo (1899), the special offer price of €500 was a bit more than – well the cost of my whole trip!

Alba, 31 June 1951, featuring tips for travel.

Alba's feature story on travel prep!

However, meandering through the streets and shelves of the Centro Storico and the booksellers’ district around Port’Alba, I managed to acquire some bits of printed paper fashion history and still have enough cash for a gelato.

Alba May 8, 1952

I picked up a series of Italian women’s weeklies from the early 1950s which were inserted in local and national newspapers. My collection consists of copies of Alba, Bella and Eva, all of which feature fashion and lifestyle advice, romantic short stories, celebrity and cinema news as well as more down-to-earth features such as recipes and tips for perfect ironing.

Eva, November 29, 1952

A casual poke around online has turned up surprisingly little about these publications – although copies turn up both in Italian libraries and via online booksellers and auction sites.  The absence of information on these delightful pages of Italian fashion history makes me eager to collect more issues and discover more information.

Alba March 22, 1951

If you are writing a thesis on these titles, or your grandmother has every issue in her attic, or you know anything or everything about Alba, Bella or Eva, then get in touch via email or comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Articles and short stories illustrated with an photo shoot against the backdrop of an art gallery.

So, having spent €12 on a pile of crumbling paper, I boarded a budget flight back to London satisfied by a fashion souvenir that informs and inspires.

Bella, April 26, 1951

My mini-collection of Italian women’s weeklies are already a reminder that vintage fashion publications need not cost a small fortune  and that those which have been almost forgotten leave all the more to be rediscovered.

Eva even featured the virtues of cosmetic surgery in its Novemer 1952 issue!

His and hers knitwear as suggested by Bella in 1951.

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1 Comment

  • Lily June 27, 2012 08.21 pm

    Lovely, thank you for sharing!!


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