Important Events in Fashion

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1311The Council of Ravenna repeats a traditional medieval requirement that Jews wear a distinguishing sign on their clothes. These measures continue to be unpopular and largely disregarded by populations throughout Italy.
1348The bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death, strikes Europe.
c. 1350The hemlines of men's jupons or doublets begin to rise in France to scandalous levels; women's bust lines, on the other hand, start to plunge.
1373The city of Florence passes stricter sumptuary laws (laws designed to curtail luxury in dress) aimed at women.
1405In her Book of the City of Ladies, Christine de Pizan praises women's love of fashion.
1416Giacoma della Marca takes clerical orders in Italy. Della Marca's fiery sermons delivered over the next sixty years are typical of the fifteenth-century Franciscans, who favored restraint in dress and the adoption of a strict system of dress codes to identify Jews, prostitutes, and other marginal groups.
1427Bernard of Siena conducts a hugely successful preaching tour in Italy that encourages men to discard their gaming boards, dice, and cards, and women to throw their finery into "bonfires of the vanities."
1434The humanist Leon Battista Alberti completes his Book of the Family, an important work in promoting styles of feminine beauty for women, and one that encourages men to adopt a gravity in dress.
c. 1450The rich court of the Duchy of Burgundy dominates fashions in courtly societies in Northern Europe.
c. 1460The codpiece begins to grow, both in popularity and size, in male fashions.
1463A series of sumptuary laws are passed in England that aim to define the status of various classes of society through distinguishing dress.
1464Pope Paul II passes a series of vestment laws at Rome that exert greater control over the dress of the clergy.
1469Galeazzo Maria Sforza, duke of Milan, gives his wife a pair of earrings, a style of jewelry long associated with Jewish women. Over the next half century earrings will be increasingly adopted by Christian women.
1477A fashion for "slashed" and puffed styles in court dress develops in Germany.
c. 1485Italian court dress becomes fashionable in aristocratic circles throughout Europe.
1493The popularity of the poulaine, long and pointed footwear, fades in favor of new soled and heeled shoes.
1494The fiery Dominican Girolamo Savonarola begins to preach in Florence after the expulsion of the Medici. Over the following years, his sermons will encourage many Florentines to abandon their sumptuous clothing styles, but his preaching will remain controversial.
1498Savonarola, recently excommunicated by the pope, is deposed following a counter-revolution in Florence.
1501Catherine of Aragon marries Prince Arthur of England, introducing the style of the farthingale, a large hoop skirt, to the country.
1510German styles reign in court dress fashions adopted throughout Europe, spreading the popularity of "slashing," in which overgarments are cut away to reveal rich undergarments.
Many aristocrats adopt the richly jewelled and decorative patterns of clothing popular in Italy.
1512While Venice is under attack from the League of Cambrai, its Senate deliberates for a month about the kinds of ornaments that are to be permitted on clothing.
1527In England, the German painter Hans Holbein begins to immortalize the clothing styles of many of the most famous English aristocrats and courtiers of the Tudor period through his minutely accurate and richly opulent portraits.
1530The Medici family is restored to power after a brief interlude of republicanism at Florence. They will adopt a richly elegant style of dress in contrast to the severe republican styles that flourished in the city during the fifteenth century.
c. 1535The Italian sculptor Benvenuto Cellini is active at the court of Francis I. Besides his many duties as a sculptor, Cellini designs a great deal of jewelry for the French king Francis I.
1539Cosimo I de' Medici celebrates his wedding to Elenore of Toledo at Florence. Elenore will become known in the city for her lavish gowns.
Henry VIII sends his court painter Hans Holbein to Flanders to paint the image of his prospective bride Anne of Cleves. Although the marriage is never consummated because of Henry's personaldistaste for her physical appearance, Anne gains a reputation in England for her richly decorated clothes, which establish new styles in the English court.
c. 1540In Italy the Mannerist painters' portraits of the upper classes are notable for their richly jewelled and elaborately decorated women's dresses.
1541Protestant leader John Calvin establishes control over the Reformation at Geneva and begins to promote tougher sumptuary laws. During his more than two decades in the city over 800 people will be arrested for violations, and 58 will be put to death for excesses in clothing.
c. 1550The upperclass dress of Spain begins to affect courtly styles throughout Europe.
Henry II of France forbids the wearing of clothes made of silk and velvet and of styles that are trimmed in silver and gold in order to prevent the flow of money outside France.
1553Marguerite de Valois, the future wife of King Henry IV (r. 1589–1609) and an important originator of many upperclass feminine styles, is born.
1558Queen Elizabeth I ascends the throne of England. During her more than fortyyear reign she will influence the styles of her court and will, according to legend, commission more than 3,000 costly dresses.
c. 1560Pocket watches begin to appear in France.
Huge pants known as "Plunder" trousers are popular in Germany, although preachers attack the style as wasteful and sinful.
1564The use of starch is introduced in England, allowing for the development of complex pleats and ruffles.
1569The Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel paints his famous Peasant's Wedding, a source for information on rural styles at the time.
c. 1570The ruffled collar becomes popular as an upperclass style favored throughout Europe.
c. 1580In Germany, the style of women's clothes grows increasingly severe and restrained. Religious changes in both Catholic and Protestant regions as well as the popularity of Spanish dress at the time encourage the new style.
1581The French court witnesses the production of a ballet de cour entitled The Comic Ballet of the Queen which is notable for its rich costuming and its elaborate use of gold, silver, and jeweled decoration on the characters' costumes.
1589William Lee invents the knitting machine in England. Elizabeth I denies him a patent for his invention because she fears it will put people out of work.
1590Men begin to wear "love locks" at court in England. These locks are long shocks of hair that fall over one side of the collar.
1599The Tudor court in England spends approximately £10,000 on clothes this year at the same time many professionals (lawyers and government officials) live on less than £100 per year.
1600Marie de' Medici becomes queen of France. She establishes a court not able for its luxury and acquires a reputation as the most expensively dressed woman in Europe.
1603Elizabeth I dies in England. Her successor, James I of Scotland, ascends the throne. During the initial years of his reign James will quadruple the amount spent on clothing in the English court.

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Important Events in Fashion

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