According to many historians, the Renaissance, which was a cultural revolution, originated in Florence, Italy, in the 14th Century AD, in the late Middle Ages. This cultural revolution virtually changed many aspects of the European society, like the daily way of life, architectural styles, method and way of writing, thinking and speaking, and of course, the trends of clothing and fashion. The clothing patterns that emerged during that era aimed at modernizing, changing, and enhancing the way in which the people dressed at those times. As the revolution originated in Italy, its initial phases are often titled as the Italian Renaissance. The modern fashion design industry can trace back its roots to Renaissance clothing patterns, or works of tailors during that era.
The first significant clothing patterns that dominated the fashion scene, appeared in the shops of Via de' Tornabuoni, Florence, Italy. Paris may be the fashion capital of the modern era, but Florence is certainly its birthplace.
Medieval Renaissance Clothing
The patterns or clothes of that period are characterized by many different innovations that tailors and artisans made in the style of clothing. The changes in the political and socio-economic scenes in Europe, played a leading role in the change of the people's outlook regarding clothing and patterns. Legendary artist and painter Leonardo Da Vinci has depicted a change in the clothing styles in many of his paintings. The nobility and the rich could afford the services of the finest tailors, who made for them the most fashionable clothes. While the poor on the other hand-made use of contemporary dressing pattern, which was pretty simple. The difference is highlighted in the two paintings, Lady with an Ermine and the world-famous Mona Lisa. The subject of the Mona Lisa, Madam Lisa del Giocondo, was a home maker and wife of a silk merchant, who preferred to wear simple clothes, which were similar to the ones that were worn by the women in the pre-Renaissance era. On the other hand, Cecilia Gallerani, was the subject of the painting Lady with an Ermine, who was a member of the household of Ludovico Sforza, Noble Duke of Milan, was a patron of rich fashion and clothing. She is seen in a very fashionable attire in the painting.
Throughout that era, the most striking feature of clothing was a rise in the height and size of the ruff. Elizabeth the first, was the most notable ambassador of this fashion. Modern fashion designers have integrated the 'rise in the ruff' phenomenon. Many manufacturers of fashionable clothing produce a limited range of Elizabethan outfits, where the rise in the ruff is prominently seen.
Have you ever wondered about the history of fashion catalog? Here's some food for thought, the first one appeared in 1590s. This fashion catalog was actually a book titled Leonfeldner Schnittbuch. This book was a combination of guide and catalogs of the tailors. Some of the patterns unique to the time period have been elaborately described in these books. Diagrams, such as the one depicting neck holes of the clothing, or the ones depicting the triangular sleeve cut-out have been beautifully pictured in the book.
The most significant among all the clothing of this period is the fabric high ruff. This type of ruff was a very dominant fashion, and a limited number of dresses and costumes are still manufactured using this kind of ruff.
- Blackwork Embroidery: The blackwork as the name suggests, is done with the help of black thread. Clothes with this type of embroidery are very rarely available.
- Coif: The coif was a type of hat that not only covers the top of the head, but it also covers the ears. The modern military Beret is a derivation of the coif.
- Doublet: The doublet is a very nice jacket that often comes down till the knee. It is a very popular attire for guys at theme parties of that era.
- Hose: Probably the first ever trouser, the hose is a tight-fitting pant. Later on, the hose was replaced by clothing such as breeches and stockings.