German Dress, 1515-1520

£5.00

History of Costume III 1500-1660

Availability: In stock

These clothes were unique to Germany and Switzerland but made an impression on the rest of Europe. Italy’s cultural leadership was succeeded by that of the Holy Roman Empire, led by Maximilian. Europe, except France, came under one rule. The Germans and Swiss had soldiers-of-fortune fighting as mercenaries, Landsknechte. The brutality and swagger of these warriors set a tone for years to come. Vandals from the North crushed the culture of the older, polished south. Every detail of male virility was emphasized. Tight-fitting Renaissance costume was the shape. Detail was achieved with material split over muscles leading to openings at elbow and knee through which contrasting hose was drawn. The Swiss used the tent material of their opponents after the Battle of Nancy (1477) to plug holes in their torn clothing – a fashion passed on. Soon all clothes were slashed in patterns, including the brims of flat Barretts (hats). Tight fit was abandoned when slashing became ornamental and heavy material added width to the figure. Variations were played on the doublet, its wide neck finished by a gathered shirt showing through the slits of huge slashed sleeves, and long breeches, with the all-important codpiece, over parti-coloured hose. So admired were these garments that early in the 16th century they were copied by the young bloods of other nations. Most raggle­taggle styles were confined to the Landsknechte but the concept became established fashion: broadening of the figure by large sleeves, wide lapels and flat hats ornamented with plumes. Woman played but a small part in this patriarchal society. Her clothes reflected this. Beautiful as the Dürer and Holbein drawings are of these German and Swiss women, they show neither independence nor spirit. Their clothes developed from the narrow Gothic silhouette to the monumental wide shape. To achieve bulk round the hips bodices were cut separately from the heavy gathered skirts and had the square opening over finely-gathered lawn under­bodices. Sleeves were doubled. The Germans showed originality in design: there could be large undersleeves, gathered at shoulder and wrist, with bands of contrasting material holding them in above and below the elbow, or huge cuff-like oversleeves joined together by bows and to the bodice at the armhole by ‘points’. Women wore the same flat Barretts, often tied over small caps or hoods at a rakish angle. Their hair enjoyed play with garlanded plaits and streaky tresses for young girls. Fashion was important, more than at any previous epoch. It interested the burgher class as well as the nobility in the Northern countries. The widespread use of printing spread the word.

Dimensions 38.1 × 25.5 cm