The Renaissance Italy and fashion 15th and 16th centuries

The explosion of the Renaissance period changed the face of fashion and art forever. This was a period of cultural development in the whole of continental Europe. It was also an era of exchanges, inventions, discovery, communication and travel between the East and the West. The Asian world was discovered by the Portuguese during this period and Christopher Columbus also discovered America in 1492. There were also other discoveries notably in medicine as well as cultural progression.

The Renaissance also witnessed the rise of great Italian artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Sandro Botticelli and the birth of literature in Italy, France, Spain and England which influenced society's outlook on the arts and fashion.

Fashion was, therefore, an integral aspect of this era. Clothes and accessories were given an important role in the society as an indicator of social class and knowledge. As a result clothes became an investment. In England even tombstones bore the descriptions of the dressing of the deceased. Other European countries such as Germany and Spain also emerged as important influencers of fashion. For example, between the 16th and 17th centuries, the fashion trend called 'slashing' which featured cutting slits in garments through which linings were pulled, emerged in Germany and was adopted all over Europe, although it was later banned in France. Other styles like shoulder pads were also invented in this period.

However, the biggest influencers of fashion and culture in this era were the Italians. Italy's re-emergence as a strong force in fashion after the Roman Empire was heightened by the county's riches, particularly in Rome, Florence and Venice. Florence became a major centre of jewellery production and trade in this era. Also, Italy's textile industry which produced the best silk in Europe grew significantly and contributed to the development of the continent's fashion and lifestyle authority. In addition, the Italian government reinvested in fashion and culture using the revenues from textile mills to fund numerous projects.

This Renaissance period also witnessed the emergence of the Grande Aristocratic families who highly influenced fashion and society and can be likened to the celebrities of today. Notable of these are the Italian Gonzague de Montoue and Medici families who lived in splendour and majestic habits to the marvel of the society. The citizens emulated their fashion style and lifestyles in the same manner that the current consumer society follows the lifestyles of celebrities.

All over Europe, luxury and art were being fused and the notion of beauty became an obsession. Women were ready to do anything to be beautiful and their influence in both fashion and society began to develop. The demand for beauty was so high that as early as 1582, a beauty book was written by Jean Liebaut, a Parisian doctor, titled L'Embellissement et Ornement de Corps Humane (The Improvement and Beautification of the Human Body). Also, high-society women had exclusive clubs where new fashion and beauty products were previewed. This can be likened to the current Trunk Shows and Pre-collection Shows organized by luxury brands like Fendi and Burberry.

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100 Fashion Tips

100 Fashion Tips

One of the most important things you need to take note of about becoming fashionable is to get fitter. Therefore, if you are carrying some extra pounds, then you should lose some of it soon. You can do it through dieting, working out, or a good combination of both. Find more fashion tips like this one within this guide.

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  • DANA
    What was fashion like in Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries?
    9 years ago

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