Madrigal, or What I Found in Paris

I realize it's been a while since my last post! This was not intentional; I've just been out and about doing other things. Most recently I was in Paris for half a week with my friend who flew out from the US. I dragged her to the St. Ouen flea market, where I found this beauty:

It is Madrigal, a French ladies' weekly periodical with sewing, knitting and embroidery patterns, plus juicy stories. I believe my particular copy comes from 1953. There is no date listed anywhere in the magazine, I'm just estimating 1953 based on dates for other issues that I found on-line.

Here's a site where you can look up and purchase old journals, magazines, and such-like, called Journaux-Collection. I have edition no. 227; the link shows similar editions for sale at 15 euros; I got mine for 3 euros. Of course, my edition does not come with the sewing pattern supplement. I can look at the pattern illustrations but that's all.

Here's the back cover: Oh, Polka Dots!

While I originally bought this to look at the fashions, now I'm really fascinated by the stories in the magazine. Here's an example of what they look like: Je Défends Mon Amour.

In this particular story, Daria is an lawyer who is defending a childhood friend accused of pushing his wife to commit suicide. She falls in love with him (Maxime) and breaks off her engagement to Geoffroy, a judge. In this scene, Geoffroy is perhaps trying to black-mail Daria into coming back to him by giving her damning evidence about Maxime.

While the storyline is a typical love-triangle, I find it noteworthy that Daria is a criminal lawyer in 1953!

The format is like a cross between films and comic strips and each story lasts over many magazine issues. Apparently this genre emerged in post-WWII Italy and is called (in Italian) fotoromanzi. Sophia Loren (then known as Sophia Lazzaro) was a big star in this genre before starting her cinema career. You can see an early picture of her here.

I had never heard of this; I found a couple sites discussing this format, here's one in French and here's the French Wikipedia page. Sorry, I don't know what this is called in English so I don't have any English language sites. Maybe somebody knows? In French it's apparently called le roman-photo sentimental and existed in periodicals up until the 1980's.

For those of you who are interested, I will scan the rest of the stories for this issue and put them up in a later post.

And now back to the fashion, here are some of the styles represented in the magazine.


The tom-boy style (or garçon manqué, in French), which only seems masculine to me because the women are wearing (gasp!) pants:

Some tops and skirts:

But this magazine wasn't only about sewing. There's knitting and embroidery too. Here are some embroidery motifs so you can decorate your hankies:

Here are some handy instructions if you want to knit your daughter underwear (culottes):

And that's not all. For those of you who like to do home-dec projects or are into cooking, there's something for you too: you can reupholster kitchen chairs and read Maria's explanations for preparing fish.

I am really kicking myself right now for having only bought one issue. There was an entire store dedicated to this type of magazine and I could have easily bought the entire store. For a while I was tempted to get one magazine from each decade represented, but then I told myself that was not reasonable. So I only got one. I think that too wasn't not reasonable! Clearly I will have to go back. I feel an obsession developing...


  1. That´s such a treasure! Thank you for sharing with us.

  2. What a fabulous magazine!! And yes, you will need to hunt these down and pick up more because there are so many wonderful things inside!! Thanks for sharing with us - especially the story of Daria the lawyer!

  3. What a wonderful magazine!! I wonder how many modern women would be willing to knit their own culottes!?
    The story is gorgeous; in 60's Australia, women struggled to keep proper jobs ;) certainly my mother allowed to work wasn't once she was married. Married women were expected to resign!

    1. I'm curious to find out the rest of the story...will she give up her law career for this Maxime??

  4. Ooh, sorry don't know what happened there... that should read "wasn't allowed to work"

  5. What a great magazine and now you have a perfect excuse to return and buy more as it is so good. The knitted knickers reminded me of Catherine at urban rustic! My older sister used to have Jackie magazine which featured photo-love stories for teenage girls back in the late 70s/early 80s. xx

    1. I totally thought of Catherine when I saw those!

  6. What a great find! It's so fun to read period stuff (books, magazines, etc.) And I'm envious of you're being in Paris, I love Paris!

  7. Are you just going to leave us hanging? What happens to Daria? I'm totally loving the tomboy yellow jumpsuit!

    1. I don't know what happens next!! We'll have to make it up ;)

  8. Oh my goodness! What an amazing find!!!! Those blouses on the separates page and the yellow outfit on the tomboy page make my heart sing!!!



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