Italian, French and German Dress, 1500-1505


History of Costume III 1500-1660

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Clothing had not lost the medieval look by 1500 but a trend towards a new fashion had started. Italy was the fount of European culture and the Renaissance led to a full ample form giving its people a different look from the Gothic North. Costume returned to ancient culture. Men’s clothes were tight, jackets vestigial and nether garments reduced to hose encasing the feet and covering legs like tights. This was a return to classicism. Artists like Pinturicchio or Carpaccio used pictures or portraits. Head-dresses were lowered and widened, men’s caps flattened with brims falling away from the crown. A wide-necked doublet perhaps with miniskirts worn over tight hose to obtain the desired fit. To remain unsplit they were cut on the cross to allow a little stretch with a flap on the front which the next generation turned into the codpiece. Garments were fastened together by laces called points. An outer cloak or a long loose overcoat (in Germany the Schaube) might be worn, slits cut in the front through which arms, in doublet sleeves, could obtrude. The overcoat had wide sleeves set straight in with no shaping, low under the shoulderline and narrowed to the wrist. Shoes in 1505 were only just losing pointed elongated medieval shapes and widening. For women the stance changed, from forward swinging top of the body, trailing long skirts behind, to the opposite, by sticking out the stomach to hold the front fullness of bunched-up skirts. The lady of Nuremberg in 1500 shows how quickly women adapt to a new idea with the pleated fullness of her dress under the bosom to tighten and lengthen her waistline and swept up long sleeves and skirt to bunch modishly over her tummy. The French turned the sleeves into wide cuffs – a distinctive feature of the early 16th century. French and English head-dresses became low and meek. Clothes followed architecture with tall, spiky head-dresses echoing Perpendicular architecture which gave place in France to a low crescent shape and in England to a Tudor arch. The hood that had once held a tall hennin in place, was retained. The edge was stiffened with a band of embroidery or jewels and, in France, tilted back to the crown of the head while the shortened ends were pinned closely at the ears in a more sophisticated manner. The back of the hood could be hanging or folded in a flap on top of the head, but never added to the height. This new head-dress was the earliest version of the ‘French hood’ which, through the medium of the pictures of the Queens on the new printed playing cards, became familiar to other countries of Europe.

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Dimensions 38.1 × 25.5 cm