Like his elder Fragonard, Mallet was born in Grasse but moved to Paris to launch his career. His work portrays the day-to-day minutiae of the carefree lives enjoyed by the rich.
Two young women bustle about in the privacy of a bedroom. One is getting ready, while the other is already dressed, wearing a hat on her head and a shawl over her shoulders and holding a box that is doubtless filled with fashionable accessories. They are fashion merchants who supply pieces of fabric and other accessories to haberdashers. Like Mallet's La Brodeuse (The Embroideress), which is also held at the Musée Cognacq-Jay, Les Marchandes de modes depicts life behind the scenes of the world of fashion.