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Italian Renaissance

A
t the end of the 15th Century, as Gothic fashion reached its peak in Burgundy, Italian Renaissance started to develop. In Florence, dominated by the immensely rich Medici family, art unfolds as in Venice and Urbino. Scientists and artists began to observe and depict humans and nature, giving rise to a new form of realistic art. Clothing is an expression of human personality and the formation of individual taste.
Building up on ancient styles, all parts fit seamlessly together in a harmonious whole. At the same time, people appreciated the freedom of movement provided by clothing. Materials remain sumptuous and precious. Italian silk weaving increasingly unfolds; elaborate brocades and velvets, woven with gold and silver and oriental patterns, take centre stage.
Men's clothing is dominated by the giornea, mostly featuring deep tubular folds and very ample, puffy sleeves.
In addition, men wore tights and, over the whole set,the most typical garment of the Italian Renaissance: the Zimarra, an open front, coat-like outer garment usually provided with a fastener. It was invariably lined and often embellished with fur.
Headgear varies widely, ranging from the simple cap to the prominent beret.
As regards women's clothing, current cuts finally separate skirt and bodice, that is, the - usually laced - bodice is connected with seams to the - often very ample - skirt while the waist is slipped up.
The dress train is completely omitted, and quite often the sleeves too. Instead, these are separately laced to the shoulder or the elbow, revealing thereby the wide puffed sleeves of the undergarment.
Having several, interchangeable sleeves per garment attached greater importance to its features. Ulrich von Lichtenstein, for example, owned 30 pairs. As the Renaissance progresses in Italy, sleeves appear increasingly buttoned - as opposed to laced - and open towards the middle.
Women's outer garments are cut away at the front and partially at the sides, so that they - as for men's clothing - form a coat-like garment and reveal the richness of the petticoat.
Regarding headgear, women rely also on berets but also wear hairnets, garlands, and veils.
Renaissance fashion was strongly influenced by the clothing of lansquenets (mercenaries): flashy, colourful, tight, and especially slitted over and over again.
Initially, sleeves were slitted at the joints and especially the elbows, mostly ​​for convenience. Soon, however, slits spread to all clothing components and became a purely decorative element. In the 16th Century, this fashion saw its golden age in Germany.
   
German Renaissance

 
The Renaissance began in Germany in 1510, at a time when it was slowly winding down in Italy. Interestingly enough, the Church and clothing followed parallel reform paths. As in Italy, focus was on consistency of proportion and function albeit Germany, fragmented and haunted by the chaos of war, did not achieve Italy's splendour. Velvet and silk were so expensive that e.g. a Swabian noblewoman had to sell a whole village to buy the desired blue velvet dress for a celebration.
As regards men's clothes, the most characteristic garment was the "Schaube" or chamarre, which developed from the 15th century coat-like overcoat and contained a larger wealth of material, often reaching up over the shoulder of the collar, and wide bulky sleeves so that, like the Italian Zimarra, it became a representative as well as comfortable garment.
At the elbow, sleeves often featured a second opening for the arms, while the lower part of the chamarre sleeve hanged loose and empty. This sleeve form is already known from the Middle Ages. Like all parts of clothing, doublets fit excessively tight. Sleeves were the most important item by far: billowed, puffed, slitted, embroidered and provided with a diversity of ornaments, they were a fashion favourite during these decades. On the other hand, trouser design shows the same variety as doublet sleeves.
As regards headgear, beret-like items reigned supreme and nearly displaced all other options. On happy occasions, a medieval chaplet - the real or artificial wreath - was used to hold the headgear in place.
Over these decades, women's clothing resembled men's fashion to such an extent that - apart from its specific forms - most of it has been already said. Clothing items such as berets and chamarres are identical. On the other hand, women's clothing becomes more comfortable, the waist is not as tight as in medieval fashion, trains disappear entirely, and skirt and bodice are separated from each other, often featuring a belt between them.
Garment sleeves, essentially similar to those of the giornea, grow sometimes so long as to cover the fingers entirely.
Women also wore chamarres as outerwear, reaching to their feet and commonly featuring slits instead of sleeves. The Heuke, a wrinkled jacket similar to those of the 15th Century, was absolutely required for Church.
Apart from long robes, larger Goller or Koller collars became fashionable, which drove a luxury quest: noble women had them made in gold fabric and filled with ermine, and female citizens enriched them with as many beads and embroidery as possible. Next to hairnets and hoods, women wore berets shaped as men's berets, except that the former often carried a skullcap underneath to hold the beret in place.
 
Costume examples from our workshop

 

Giornea

Period: around 1440

This giornea (outer garment for men during the Italian Renaissance) has been made of opulent silk lampas for an English reenactment group. Besides contemporary drawings we used paintings by Fra Angelico as models. The front and the back of the giornea cascade down in ...

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Renaissance Doublet Period: around 1400, Italy

This fencing jacket of the Italian Renaissance has been custom-made for a reenactment group from England. As a basis for our creations served Pandolfo Malatesta III's doublet (1370-1427), whose fragments are on exhibition in the museum Civico of Fano (Italy).
It was discovered in 1995 during a grave find, but its extensive restoration lasted until 2009.
Based on the exhibited original cuttings and numerous paintings we...

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Giornea

Period: around 1450

We designed this giornea (outer garment for men during the Italian Renaissance) made of heavy velvet and precious silk brocade for an English reenactment group.
Drawings from Marco Zoppo's sketchbook (1433-1478) served as a basis for this creation.
The front and the back of the giornea cascade down in tubular pleats, which are ...

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Renaissance_Damastkleid

Period: around 1500, Italy

In what follows we present you several historic designs of the Italian Renaissance. The underlying basic pattern features a raised waistline; a close-fitting bodice; slim two-piece over sleeves, which are laced on over wide, bouffant lower sleeves; and an ...

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Renaissance_Männerkostüm

Period: 1440, Italy

This doublet of the early Italian Renaissance was inspired by Domenico Veneziano's painting "Adoration of the Magi". This has been commissioned work for a member of the Vienna dance ensemble for historical dance.
Typical of the Quattrocento is the unique tubular pleating that cascades down from the chest to the silk-trimmed hem. The bouffant upper sleeves are equipped with slashes at the front and ...

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Renaissance-Kostüm vorn

Period: 15th century, Italy

We crafted this Renaissance dress for an opus premiere on 11. July 2007 by Karlheinz Stockhausen. The robe was part of the KLANG [sound] cycle that divides the day into 24 sounds and colors. It represented the fifth hour and we were asked to precisely use the color HKS 50 K Blue.

For the creation we used ...

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Renaissance-Kostüm Hl. Cäcilia

Period: around 1510, Italy

Rapheal's "The Ecstasy of St. Cecilia" from around 1510 served us as model for this Renaissance ladies' suit; Cecilia is the patroness of musicians and music.
The undergarment is made of gold-colored silk, while the hem is edged with antique-golden silk. The ornamented silk of the outer garment assimilates flawlessly with the color of ...


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