In the middle ages clothing was not just a matter of personal choice. What one wore depended on his/her position in society. ↓ Medieval society was a hierarchical society
1. Clothing in Medieval Societies The ‘livery’ was a “social uniform” of a group. People belonging to different social groups (artisans; doctors; priests; lawyers; traders; etc.) would dress differently Guilds (associations of people doing the same job) would wear similar garments, or colours Servants of powerful families would wear the colours and insignia of the family ↓ Medieval society was a segmented society
2. The Great Divergence: The Shapes of Men and Women Until the early part of the 14th century both men and women wore very large tunics or cloaks called ‘Houppelande’.
‘Spinning’, in Ovide, late 15th century. Paris, BNF, 874 fol. 132v Dominico di Michelino, Dante and the Three Kingdoms, Museo d'Opera del Duomo, Florence. Oil on canvas, 1465 (detail)
Men and Women before c. 1300Women after c. 1300
Archduchess Isabella Clara Eugenia and her Dwarf, c.1599, artist unknown
2. The Great Divergence: The Shapes of Men and Women
This change in the “shape” of men and women was caused by: 1.The development of sewing 2.The development of knitting (as in the case of hoses) While a garment is normally woven on the loom, cut and sewn; a knitted garment is produced as a 3-D object from yarn. 3. The use of buttons and other fastenings such as pins
3. The “Birth of Fashion”: Where and When? Hypothesis 1. Fashion, Courts and Armour -What is central is the differentiation between men’s and women’s shapes and their clothing - Men wear armour with a padded garment underneath - By 1330 this garment is used as overgarment (without the armour) and is called doublet or ‘poupoint’.
Titian, Portrait of Francesco Maria della Rovere, Duke of Urbino. c.1536-38. Oil on canvas. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy. Christoph Amberger (c.1500-61) Portrait of Christoph Fugger. Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany.
3. The “Birth of Fashion”: Where and When? Hypothesis 1. Fashion, Courts and Armour See Pipponier and Maine (reading list) Central to this notion of fashion is the medieval court: -Elizabeth Wilson claims that this is a form of fashion heavily reliant on the court; - Fernand Braudel thinks this is not ‘fashion’ as such but a form of court culture
3. The “Birth of Fashion”: Where and When? Hypothesis 2. Fashion from the East -The emergence of fashion is linked to trade in the ‘East’ (Asia) - Silks imported from the Near East spakled new forms, shapes, colours and textures
Asian Silks Figured in the Articulation of New Styles in Medieval Europe The True Cross by Piero della Francesca. 1452-66. San Francesco, Arezzo. Portrait of a Condottiere, by Jacopo Marcello (?). 1480-90. National Gallery of Art, Washington
3. The “Birth of Fashion”: Where and When? Hypothesis 2. Fashion from the East -The emergence of fashion is linked to trade in the ‘East’ (Asia) - Silks imported from the Near East spakled new forms, shapes, colours and textures - Europe at this point was well linked to the near east through: - The trade of the maritime republics of Genoa, Venice and Amalfi; - The trade carried out by Jewish and Islamic traders in Europe; - by the crusaders who between 1100 and 1300 travelled to the holy land
3. The “Birth of Fashion”: Where and When? Hypothesis 3. Fashion and the Medieval City Fashion did not emerge in either the court and/or the contact with Asia But in the context of urban living, the medieval ‘comuni’ (Italian city states) and the ‘signorie’.
4. Fashion and Urban Living Living in towns and cities was the exception rather than the rule. 80 to 90 percent of the population lived in the countryside and cultivated the land. Percentage of the entire workforce employed in Agriculture 1600-17002000 Venice80 %Italy6 % Spain75 % France73 % Great Britain45 %Great Britain2 % Low Countries 40 % United States2 % Third World50 % Billions of Hectars of Land Under Cultivation 1400-15002000 3.613.5
4. Fashion and Urban Living From the middle ages fashion is centred in urban areas. Towns and cities are seen as places where resources are wasted rather than generated. Fashion (with all its attributes of wastefulness) is part of a more general vision of urban living as wasteful.
Thomas III de Saluces, Le Chevalier errant, Paris, c. 1400-1405, Paris, BnF, département des Manuscrits, Français 12559, fol. 167 4. Fashion and Urban Living: four consequences 1. The city is a place for social competition: where you see new things, meet people and buy stuff
Anonymous, Mese di Luglio. c. 1400- 1407. Detail. 4. Fashion and Urban Living: four consequences 2. The majority of people lived in the countryside and did not engage in fashion
Anonymous, Mese di Luglio. c. 1400- 1407. 3. the money needed to buy expensive and fashionable clothing, luxuries, silks etc. came from the land. Town and country worked together. 4. Fashion and Urban Living: four consequences
4. The number of artisans who could produce fashionable objects was small. Skilled workmen were a very small percentage of the total workforce. Few people could be fashionable. 4. Fashion and Urban Living: four consequences Sixteenth-century East Indies Pearl Broach Portrait of Catharina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus, by Gentile Bellini. 1500. Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest
5. Competition and the Segmentation of Society Fashion in urban places is not produced by competition and imitation across classes (to imitate one’s social superior) but is created by imitation and social competition within specific classes (to outdo people belonging to your own social level)
5. Competition and the Segmentation of Society Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) distinguishes between: 1.‘Reverential Imitation’: when one imitates one’s social superior and by doing this accepts his/her inferior position; (across) 2. ‘emulative imitation’: when people pick and choose and reinterpret and often borrows from their social equals, rather than superiors. (within)
6. Women and Fashion Women have been seen as central in the history of fashion. However there are different explanations on why this is the case: A.Georg Simmel (1858-1918) talks about ‘Compensation’: Fashion is a compensation for what women cannot achieve in the economic and cultural spheres of society
6. Women and Fashion B. Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929) talks about ‘Conspicuous Consumption’: women engage in fashion not because of themselves and their social position but because of their husbands’ position. The display of clothing for women was used to visualise the social standing and wealth of the family, fathers and husbands
6. The “Birth of Fashion”: Why? Werner Sombart (1863-1941) published Luxus und Capitalismus (1913) where he claimed: -that fashion is part of luxury consumption and -in ‘modern’ societies is used as a way to fight against the fear of death: 1. to deform, or re-arrange of time, in which people, human being, take charge of time and change its normal course. 2. this process provides social cohesion
6. The “Birth of Fashion”: Why? Herbert Blumer (1900-1987) develops the ideas of Sombart into his theory of ‘collective selections’ and suggests that: 1. fashion emerges from the desire to be in synchrony with time, not to be “old-fashioned” and therefore excluded. 2. this might have started in the middle ages when the new culture (Dante, Boccaccio etc.) of the ‘modern’ highlighted the difference between the present (14th and 15th centuries) and the (Ancient classical) past
Adam ed Eve at work, ms. 3878, f. 7, Bibliothèque Mazarine, Paris 8. Producing Fashion in the Middle Ages