Архів категорії: costume history

Fashion Icon: King Louis XIV

King Louis XIV

It’s no secret that fashion loves leaders. Throughout the history of fashion, new trends have been born under the influence of an authority that has either power, or frenzied energy, or an unconditional influence on the minds of contemporaries. Perhaps that is why King Louis XIV of France (1638-1715) became one of the most influential trendsetters of the 17th century.

Louis XIV was nicknamed “God-given” because Queen Anne of Austria gave birth to him relatively late, at 37 years old, having previously lived in a marriage with Louis XIII for 20 years. The God-given-son sat on the throne for a surprisingly long time – 72 years – and managed to organize his rule so well that the country rose to an unprecedented height, and his time was called the “Great Age”.

Queen Anne of Austria

Louis, although he became a king only five years old, was under the care of his mother. The mother solved all the cases until the moment when her son turned 14. And then Louis took the reins firmly in his own hands.

Winning wars, developing industry, and trade, France became one of the most powerful countries in Europe, both in politics and in culture. In 1661, Louis laid out his new residence – the Versailles, and here he lived most of his life. Inspired by his brilliant finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the king put luxury literally on stream by opening state-owned enterprises for the production of clothing. And he raised fashion to the rank of law, creating his own royal etiquette, which became an example to follow in many European countries.

The French fashion system became an influential element of French politics and culture and Louis XIV naturally received all the rights of a trendsetter.

French Fashions of King Louis XIV times

Louis XIV attended a military parade in 1663 in honor of the victory over the Turkish troops. It involved Croatian mounted regiments fighting the Turks. And the king saw that the horsemen wore bright neckerchiefs, which he liked very much. Louis immediately gave an order: “Make sure that tomorrow I have a dozen of the same handkerchiefs!”.

Croats ‘”ties” were squares of cloth with large and small tassels, the ends of which were tied with a rosette and hung on the chest. Of course, the king got what he wanted. From the king, the fashion for ties passed to other courtiers and then went for a walk in European courts. During this period, the name of the tie was born, which is now mostly accepted in Europe: “cravate”, from the word “croate” (Croat).

Emanuel de Geer wearing a military sash over a buff jerkin and sporting a cravat with it in 1656, portrait by Bartholomeus van der Helst

However, it would still be a mistake to attribute the birth of ties to Croatian horsemen or even to Louis – they came to us from ancient times. Scarves around the neck, so-called “focales”, were worn by Roman legionaries in the first century, so that iron armor did not rub the neck. Similar headscarves were also in Ancient Egypt, they have been known since time immemorial in China. In these countries, they emphasized a certain social status of a person.

Louis XIV used fashion not only to enrich the treasury and spread the cultural influence of France but also as a kind of carrot and stick. With its help, he deftly manipulated his courtiers. Some things were required to be worn by everyone without exception, otherwise, it was threatened with ex-communication from the royal court, some, on the contrary, could only be worn by the highest permission.

It was Louis who introduced the so-called justacorps or justaucorps, which is translated from French “exactly on the body”. It was a type of men’s caftan, without a collar, close to the waist, rather narrow at the top, but expanding to the floors, with short sleeves and pockets. From justacorps later, in the XVIII century, a frock coat grew, and from a frock coat in the XIX century – a tailcoat, which is still popular today, as well as a jacket, without which no man can do today. So the “great-grandfather” of the modern jacket was Louis XIV.

French baroque justacorps, 1735

In the times of Louis XIV, justacorps could only be worn by the authorities, nobles. It was made of very expensive fabrics – brocade, velvet, decorated with precious stones. The king himself appointed who exactly was given the honor to wear justacorps. In all, there were no more than fifty of them at court. In 1660, the ” justacorps by privilege” appeared, intended only for the king and members of the royal family – blue on a red lining, with gold and silver embroidery.

French baroque justacorps

And only after a few decades, this caftan gradually made its way into “mass production”, became available to other mortals and an obligatory element of the European court costume. And since the middle of the XVIII century, it, decorated with an epaulet on the right shoulder, turned into a part of a female hunting costume, which was worn with a wide-open skirt.

In addition to the costume itself, Louis XIV clearly regulated the colors of clothes and even the forms of decoration. Fashion was based on a class basis and had to maintain the social status of the subjects. Gold braid and expensive buttons were allowed only to the rich aristocrats, brocade clothes were worn only by the king, princes of the blood, and those to whom the king himself allowed such a favor.

In the French legislative acts of the 1660s, all the details are regulated: how many ribbons and how wide to sew on collars, hems of raincoats, on the sides of pantaloons, on the sleeves, armholes.

By this time, the “French brand” was so promoted that the whole of Europe came to a consensus: fashion novelties can only be obtained from France.

French Baroque embroidered costume (detail)


Costumes in Fellini’s Satyricon


The most remarkable aspects of the Fellini’s film “Satyrycon” are the costumes by renowned designer Danilo Donati. These glorious constructions are astonishing in their intricate, picturesque design. 

Capucine in Satyricon Fellini, 1969

Fellini had asked fashion models to act in his films. In particular, in Satyricon (Fellini – Satyricon) (1969), Donyale Luna and Capucine
play the parts of Oenothea and Tryhaena, the wife of Trimalchio. Capucine, besides starring in some films in France, was a well-known model who worked for Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Balmain. The dress worn by Capucine in Satyricon, an example of how costume and fashion are interrelated and now held in the archives of the sartoria Farani in Rome, is a masterpiece in its nuances of pale blue and its hundreds of pleats à la Fortuny (the Delphos gown) .

Delfos by Mariano Fortuni

In the scenes in which Capucine wears this costume, along with the
appropriate visual effects and make-up, the film takes the form of a very
sophisticated fashion photo shoot. The body of the model performs the
spectacle of the timeless quality of the dress. Costume here becomes
fashion, while at the same time transcending it. In this historical adaptation, the geniality of costume designer Danilo Donati comes to the fore.

Satyricon was the first collaboration between Fellini and Donati, who went on to work with him on several films such as I Clowns, Roma, Amarcord, Casanova, Ginger and Fred, Intervista (Tosi Pamphili 2014: 16). As a costume designer and art director, Donati was eclectic, but he could never be called a philologist of costume adaptation. Rather, his aim was to reinvent historical dress, reframe history and costume through the contemporary eyes and with a poetry that was relevant for the character and the story in question. Gianfranco Angelucci commenting on Donati’s work states that he was interested more in the interior landscape of an epoch than its reconstruction (2014: 54). Donati even affirmed that ‘Il vero è l’amico degli amanti della filologia che come si sa è la morte della creatività’: truth is friend with lovers of historical accuracy, which, as we know, is the death of creativity (Angelucci 2014: 66).

Truth is friend with lovers of historical accuracy, which, as we know, is the death of creativity.

But how does this act of reframing history through dress and costume
work? [Eugenia Paulicelli Reframing history: Federico Fellini’s Rome, fashion and costume // Film, Fashion & Consumption 2019, Volume 8, Number 1].



Swarovski Renaissance costumes

Swarovski Book of Dreams (2018) shows Swarovski crystals in the context of Renaissance costume. It was an inspiring partnership between Creative Director Giovanna and Martina Mondadori Sartogo of Cabana Magazine and Swarovski Professional. Photography – Clara Giaminardi, fashion Editor/Stylist – Elisabeth Zaccanti & Giovanna Battaglia, models – Greta Varlese & Lorna Foran.

Swarovski Book of Dreams (2018)
Swarovski Book of Dreams (2018)
Swarovski Book of Dreams (2018)
Swarovski Book of Dreams (2018)
Swarovski Book of Dreams (2018)

Look also: Тіло одягнене. Силуети та мода (1550-2015) – my photoes from The exhibition in The Design Museum of Barcelona “The clothed body. Silhouettes and fashion (1550-2015)”.

Swarovski Book of Dreams (2018)

Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Inspiration From Ancient Greece

Dolce & Gabbana  fw 2019/2020 Alta Moda

Dolce & Gabbana  fw 2019/2020 Alta Moda collection was inspired by Ancient Greece. “The new D & G classicism was shown in the look of female divinities in slender draped dresses, white, but glinting with gold embroidery and burnished filigree headpieces. The latter might be Egyptian or Roman circlets – or maybe pieces of ruined sculptures balanced on the head. They were matched by classic Greek and Roman figures used as decoration on relatively simple dresses” – Suzy Menkes wrote in her review for Vogue.

Dolce & Gabbana  fw 2019/2020 Alta Moda

The Ancient Greece theme was decided by Karl Lagerfeld in his Resort 2018  collection for Chanel.

The Ancient Greece by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel Resort 2018 

To me, the Dolce & Gabbana  fw 2019/2020 Alta Moda collection looks very traditional for the brand – a literal reading of the theme and the banal use of ornaments and accessories, especially the sculpture hats. But the luxury of finishing and presenting the collection to the public is really impressive.

Dolce & Gabbana  fw 2019/2020 Alta Moda
Dolce & Gabbana  fw 2019/2020 Alta Moda
Dolce & Gabbana  fw 2019/2020 Alta Moda

Designers have once again confirmed that the history of the costume is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for modern fashion.

Look also at the Costumes of ancient Mesopotamia:


The Ancient Greece in Fellini film

Rococo Fashion

Rococo fashion

The Rococo period (from about 1730 – 1790) was a time of fashion excess, emanating from France around Europe. The name “rococo” has been assigned to the subtle changes in the art and dress styles of the period from about 1720 to 1770. Rococo styles are characterized by smaller scale but still curvilinear lines; more delicate ornamentation; and Asian, Gothic, and floral motifs.

Rococo textile

The three-piece suit became the predominant component of men’s clothing. Throughout the eighteenth century, men wore knee breeches, a vest, and an outer coat. When coat, vest, and breeches were made of the same fabric, the outfit was called a “ditto suit.”

Rococo fashion
Rococo fashion

Rococo women’s dresses reflected the curvilinear forms. The shape of skirts changed gradually. After the early eighteenth century, when loose, full sacque gowns were popular, the silhouette altered and bodices fitted the front of the body closely. Necklines were low, square, or round. Skirts were held out by supporting hoops (called paniers in France) that were first cone-shaped, then domeshaped, next narrow from front to back and wide from
side-to-side. By the period from 1740 to 1760, skirts were enormously wide (as much as 2 ¾ yards). Double doors helped to accommodate the passage of women in these panier-supported dresses, and small tables often had
raised edges to prevent objects from being swept from them by a passing skirt.

Rococo fashion
Rococo fashion
Rococo fashion
Stocking garters

From 1760, hair was piled on top of the head, near the forehead. Initially dark hair was fashionable, then it became fashionable to powder hair with starch in order to make it appear lighter. The hair was initially smeared with pomade and then powdered with a white, grey or pastel shade of powder.  As the height of the hair increased, it became necessary to affix a pad of horsehair or sometimes a wire structure on top of the head, with the subject’s hair being swept up over the top of this. The creations grew in size and were also often adorned with other decorations, such as pastoral scenes, ships in full-sail, or a windmill that turned. 

Rococo fashion
Collage by Myroslav Melnyk with Mela Koehler illustratio

Rococo fashion inspires many modern designers and we can notice this style in collections of Chanel, Dior, Westwood, Moschino and others.

Rococo fashion
Rococo fashion
Fashion rococo, Moschino
Nabil Nayal FW 2019
#dolcegabbana #marieantoinette#modoslav #collage #fashioncollage

Read also: ІСТОРІЯ КОСТЮМА: королева моди Марія-Антуанетта

Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French, 1755 – 1842), Madame du Barry, 1782, oil on canvas, Corcoran Collection (William A. Clark Collection) 2014.136.36