onsdag 30 november 2016

Another new Italian gown, from c. 1300

To those of you who know me it comes as no surprise that I had to give the extremly short-waisted Italian gowns that I discussed by the end of this post a try.

The gown is hand sewn from a very thin teal silk, and lined with a printed cotton. Cotton was both imported, usually very fine cottons with printed patterns, to Italy from India or the Islamic world, and woven in Italy in the 13th and 14th centuries. The fabric made locally was usually either in a solid colour or with woven patterns and usually heavier. Mostly they were half-cottons, with linen warp (fustian). My lining fabric, which can be seen further down the post, is of the type that would have been imported from India, and while not a perfect copy of period printed fabrics the scroll-like pattern at least resembles medieval Indian cottons. Fur, or another silk would have been a more easily documentable choice, but I'm using stuff I already had. And it does make for a both warm and still extremly lightweight gown.

The tie which doesn't align with the bust seam I got from these women:

Though, since I have much larger boobs, it looks a bit different. Most like the girl in red I think. I wasn't wearing a bra under it, just a shift with a belt under the bust and I think it would require something really tight flattening the boobs to look right, almost like breast binding.
It is obvious from this painting that neither the bodice seam, nor the tie should go under the breasts, but across them.

Or you can wear it without the tie, like on this image, which was my main inspiration:

Like that gown my gown is slit all the way up to the seam of the bodice. You can see the lining in the photo below.

The tunic worn under the gown also is my old blue silk tunic. A tunic from another fabric is much less common than both the tunic and the over gown being from the same fabric. But I didn't have more of the teal silk.

The seam above or across teh bust really seems weird and contra-intuitive to us, but it is not unknown in the history of costume. One of the oldest Swedish folk costumes, Vingåkersdräkten, is made in this way:

It is of course not documented before the 18th century, and has no conenction to Italy. But that it existed made me more confident about cutting my gown at least.

Incidentally his folk costume is also often described as "medieval in style" in older books about folk costumes. To  this I usually respond - bah! There are no medieval gowns either depicted or preserved from Northern Europe with this construction. But maybe the Swedish scholars writing 70 years ago or so had seen images of these Italian gothic frescoes, and not knowing much about medieval dress at all, thought that this was a typical medieval dress for all of Europe. With their ideological bias which prescribed  ancient roots to the clothes of the peasants, they were ready to track almost anything to the Middle Ages given half a chance anyway.

tisdag 29 november 2016

Instant love

Found this amazing image in a book yesterday and fell in love instantly. It's by the workshop of Bernardo Daddi and dated to 1334. This is a donor.

I mean: Look at the fabric! And the side and front slits. yes, there appears ot be a front slit too. It is the lining, probably fur that we see at the side and front slit, the tunic worn under the surcoat is, like in most of the images, made from the same fabric as the surcoat.

But this surcoat has a front slit! And side slits, but as I've discused previously in the blog, they are common.

Front slits are less common, but I've found a few:

This surcoat, painted, by Giovanni Baronzino, may also have both side and front slits, if you look closely at the front.

And the saint to the right in the yellow gown, on this painting by Paolo Veneziano.

Anyway it was not the many slits that made me fall in love with it, but the colour and pattern of the fabric - swoon! I love checks! And checks with dots is even better.

lördag 26 november 2016

Trim with a pedigree

I went to the haberdasher in town to get som "gold" trim for my newest gown (pics soon, I finished it today) and found this lovely trim. It's not gold, but it's real metal, and it's made in a mill close to where I live in Gothenburg, which is now a museum.

tisdag 22 november 2016

A new Italian mi-parti gown

Well, as it's a fairly basic A-line gown I can of course wear it as a c.1330 mi.parti gown from any part of catholic Europe really, but I am wearing it the Italian way, with a tie under the bust. It is all hand sewn from thin wool.


Like these images:
Giotto, 1304-1306 - the small neck hole is typical for the early part of the period.

You may notice that I am not wearing a bra, I am trying to use this type of underwear, a shift tied under the bust. Giousto de Menabuoi, Padua 1376. Though much later than my gown I guess that since they wore gowns tied under the bust already around 1300 they might have used the same method on their underwear to keep the busts at least a little in place.

Around 1330s we see both wider and deeper necklines, which is why I made this one that way.

Mi-parti isn't that common on women in Italian paintings in 14th century, but they exist, and here are a few.

Memmo di Filippuccio, Siena. He was active between 1303 and 1345.

Fresco of St. George and the princess 1388, The church of St. George in Bergamo.

Andalius de Nigro Januensis, Tractatus de sphaera. South Italy 1325-1330

Asciano, Palazzo Cimmunale. Attributed to Cristoforo di Bindoccio and Meo di Pero.

Fresco from the Veneto, I haven't found more info unfortunately:

Giovanni Baronzio 1330-1335

Master of the Codex of St. George, kneeling princess in a peach and blue mi-parti gown.

Altichiero da Verona (also called Aldigieri da Zevio) Crucifixion, 1372, Padua

Mi-parti with a broad trim dividing the two colours. Tommaso da Modena, 1360s-70s.

The Baronzio Polyptych ca 1340, by Giovanni Baronzio. Note that the gown is slit in the front!

onsdag 16 november 2016

More high waists

You always find more when you start looking for something :)

Buonamico Buffalmacco, from the Baptistry of the Duomo in Parma 1330s (wikimedia has a really large photo,it's worth to check out the details).

The sleeves on both the tunic and the surcoat and the front of the surcoat are the same pink fabric with blue pattern, though what goes under the surcoat is very intriguing - either she wears a patterned apron under the gown or her tunic has a broad patterned stripe.

On teh frescoes in the church of St. Ursula in Vigo di Cadore, in the Veneto there are quite a few dresses with extremely high "waists" (more like a yoke almost), from the middle of the 14th century. However, Andrea Carloni who has taken photos of them doesn't want them shared, so I'll just give you a link to his Flickr account.

Lorenzo Venetiano, the birth of John the Baptist, the girl in pink:

I also think that it looks like St.Anne has a seam decorated with trim rather than a belt in this fresco by Giotto:

tisdag 15 november 2016

High waists in late 13th and early 14th century Italy

Everybody knows (and loves, or ought to love) the high waisted gowns of the late Quattrocento, however a waist placed even higher than most of the gowns from this period (except for some Venetian ones) was fashionable in Italy in the late 13th century and the first half of the 14th century. Mostly this effect was reached by tying a ribbon under the bust, but, there are some paintings that actually suggest that here were gowns with very short bodices and a gathered skirt.I have resisted this interpretation ever since I first saw these gowns, because it just doesn't fit in the general development of clothing in this period. But, as I will show in the end of this post, there are some paintings that I have a hard time explaining in any other way.

But, most of the high-waisted styles, are simply loose tunics tied under the bust:

Unknown master, 1270s

Simone Martini, Siena 1328:

Giotto, Padua Scrovegni chapel Padua 1303-1305

 Woman in white to the right

The red gown appears to be tied with a string under the bust

In this one we see both a belt, to the left, and a more ambigious gown, which may well have a seam under the bust, to the right.

Here you can see the belt clearly:
Lippo di Benivieni, Madonna with child 1310-1320

Taddeo Gaddi, pregnant Madonna, 1340s-50s?

Ambrogio Lorenzetti c. 1335

Some of these appear to be either inspired by Roman styles, or, since this is before or early in the Renaissance, it may actually be a continuous tradition rather than copying of ancient statues. This woman, painted by Pietro Lorenzetti in the 1350s with both a tie under the bust and at the waist look very much like Roman statues.

As does the woman to the right in this late 1320s painting by Taddeo Gaddi:

Same fresco, look at the woman in lilac. 

These gowns are cool also because they show a sewn fold on the gown, a detail that is mostly known from the 15th century.

More from the same fresco, look at the small women at the bottom right:

A good view of a belt on an image of St. Catherine painted by Pietro Lorenzetti 1342.

And another:

A toddler Mary with a gown tied with a narrow belt. 1330s

Often we don't see the ties of the belt, but they could be both in front as on St. Catherine and the attendant with towels above, and hanging down at the side, like on this painting by Pietro da Rimini where the woman to the left has a blue gown with a red belt with long end hanging down the side.

Then there are some that I can't say if it's a belt or a seam.
You can't see the belt in these from the late 13th or early 14th century Bologna, but from the shape of the bust I guess that it's a narrow belt or string tied just under the bust:

These gowns are more ambigious and it could be both a narrow tie or a seam.

More Bologna, this time St. Lucy in a painting by the so-called pseudo Jacopino, from 1329.

Pietro Lorenzetti, 1329. This is probably a high belt.

St. Agnes and St. Catherine in this painting, also by Pieto Lorenzetti, may wear gowns either with narrow gold coloured belts, or with gold trim at a high waist seam.

This one, by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, also Siena 1338-1339, does, however look more like it has a high waist seam, since the part under the horizontal line under the bust appears to be gathered. However, this could be the result of a tunic that fits snugly over the bust and widens a lot below the bust.

The same goes for these, from Castel San Pietro, Mendrisio (now in Switzerland) painted before 1345.

And then there's this one, by Giotto, from Padua, which mostly looks like it has a drawstring inside the gown (which is highly unlikely):

But then there are a few, which do look like there's a waist seam just under, or even on the bust (like when you buy tops intended for women without boobs and the underbust seam ends up right across your bust).

Leaf from a Cocharelli Treatise on the Vices, Accidia and Her Court, c. 1330

Buonamico Buffalmacco 1336-1341.

Look at the split surcoat of the woman on the right: no visible belt, but clear gathers of the "skirt".

And then, what finally convinced me, those that I couldn't explain away: These frescoes from the turn of the century 1300, in San Zeno, Verona.

The final proof: In this image you actually see both seam and belt, since they don't align.

So, tentatively there appears to have been a variety of gown worn in northern and central Italy which had a high waist seam. As with the belted variety of this high-waisted look, which was more common, this style was more popular in the beginning of the 14th century and disappears, with a few Madonnas and saints as exceptions, in the second half of the century. Thus there is no clear connection between these fashions and the high waisted styles of the late 15th century.

The discussion in this blog post suffers from the fact that it is based only on visual soruces, since  I don't have access either to written sources, such as wills and dowry records from this period. AFAIK  there are also no studies of dress history specifically about this period and region; unlike the fashions of the 15th and 16th centuries.
I am very much looking forward to Elisa Tosi Brandis upcoming book on tailoring in medieval Italy.

But for now I think I am going to make an Italian gown with a high waist seam :)