To wear the historical dress on occasions of a re-enactment it is necessary to have a remarkable bearing: by wearing them you become a theater actor and you also acquire an aesthetic beauty that is not given by the physical but by the figure.
The historical dress
BASIC CHARACTERISTICS OF THE COSTUME IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE 15TH CENTURY s
The fashion of the 15th century figures a constant changing. In the early years it is still clearly recognizable in the late Gothic canons and then evolved into the distinctive characteristics of Renaissance fashion. We can go back to it from the rich iconography of the time, found
in the masterpieces of the time, but without forgetting also what could have been the practical implications. For example, the cost of the richest clothes, especially the female ones, which were handed down from mother to daughter. Commercial traffic, religious streets, marriages between exponents of dynasties of different families, if not even different states, has led to a progressive contamination of different styles. For this reason, understandably, we tend to consider, for our purposes, a period of 50 years to judge the philological relevance of the clothes.
The most commonly used fabrics are woolen cloths, velvets, brocades and damasks decorated with specific motifs: the pine cone, the pomegranate and the acanthus. Floral motifs are not used, being developed only in the 18th century. The colors are bright and correspond to a code: the most used at the beginning of the 15th century is sky blue.
The fashion and the history
THE HISTORICAL DRESS
The costume intended as historical dress responds to codes of style and color which denote not only the gender, but above all the social class, the family, the rank and power, the profession. They are real symbols that also reveal the age, the ethnicity, the nationality, the activity. The colors, the richness of the fabrics and ornaments, the jewels and even the cushions show the true value of the wearer. But they are also an emblem of art and craftsmanship, from fabrics to techniques. The overall beauty of the garment isn’t only due to the quality and splendour of the clothing but also by the way it is worn.
GENERAL RULES FOR FEMALE CLOTHES
Female fashion in the first half of the XV Century is influenced by the late-Gothic style, long and vertical clothes as the gothic cathedrals characterised by pointed arches, spires and high bell towers.
LINE AND BELTS
Extremely wide dresses with loose lines without cuts at the waist, but marked by belts placed under the breast. Ladies often wear the “giornea” (probably in the sense of “everyday dress), dress open to the sides or closed with laces. Both the high cut of the waist and the adjustable fastenings are shapes attributable to the value of motherhood. A large offspring was fundamental for both nobles and plebeians, in the first case for dynastic reasons, in the second one to increase the workforce. Therefore, also due to the high infant mortality, women of childbearing age gave birth to many children. Motherhood was so important and precious that it influenced the fashion and the canons of female beauty. So the dress that emphasized the belly exalted the female figure considered more beautiful and important in her maternal function. It also responded to practical needs: given the high cost of the fabrics, the clothes had to be used during and after pregnancy. Women’s clothing is made up of overlapping garments often called under garments and upper garments. The necklines, modest, are almost always round.
Brocades, damasks, silks and very long dresses
THE DRESS TRAIN
‘400 is represented by an ostentation of the costumes both in the quality of brocades, damasks and silks, and also by the great use of fabric: the clothes stretch very much in the train so as to arrive to arouse the “suntuarie” (sumptuary) laws ( that limited the ostentation of luxury: for example the quantity of the fabric of the clothes especially in the train.
Slevees like wing
Sleeves and “wing” sleeves, in this period women tend to recall the elegance of birds, in fact often these counter sleeves are decorated with motifs reminiscent of birds’ feathers. Other types of counter sleeves are called “goiter” because they recall the shape of a bird’s goiter. Under the counter sleeves are the tight fitted sleeves open only by “windows” that allow a glimpse of the precious shirt, tied with silk ribbons finished with golden tips.
Balzo, sella and “alla di là”, and ‘400 hairstyle
THE HEADGEAR FOR MARRIED WOMEN
The typical Italian hairstyle is the “balzo”, a sort of ball pinned on the back of the neck. Very common is also the “sella” (saddle) name due to its shape, and then again veils and nets that contain the hair. We often find hairstyles “beyond” made in the shape of horns that draw inspiration from the Flemish regions beyond the Alps.
The headdress for young women
THE HEADDRESS FOR YOUNG WOMEN
With their heads uncovered, or with light ornaments, only the unmarried girls and young girls went.
GENERAL RULES FOR MALE CLOTHES
Men of that period used to wore “guarnacche”, “robe” and “roboni”; under the dress they wear long socks in wool or fabric but always close-fitting to enhance the shapes. As for women those dresses are long, without shrinkage but tighten with belts, they are made following the “incannicciatura” technique (like cylinders), creating an effect of “organ pipes”, not that of the classic modern fold. Under the robe is worn the shirt that can be glimpsed through the small windows of the sleeves.
Like for female fashion, counter sleeves are also “goiter” and “wing” shaped.
Maniche a gozzo e ad ala. E il mazzocchio.
SLEEVES AND HEADWEAR
There are many male headdresses, but the most classic is the “mazzocchio”, that is, a padded roller with a shape and a spout hanging on the side.
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