The duchy of Burgundy, enriched by the wealth of its Flemish cities, was the leading center of fashion during the 1420s. The Duke of Burgundy’s alliance with England supported the production of the finest woolen textiles, woven in Flanders from English yarn. Merchants used their profits from manufacture and trade to rival aristocrats as the greatest consumers of Italian silk velvets and other luxuries. Throughout Europe, men dressed in black and women with tall, horn-shaped headdresses were signs of Burgundian influence.
Tag: 15th century
Fashion during this decade turned away from extravagance and towards simplicity. The elaborate fashions of the court of France that were dominant throughout Europe reached their peak in 1415. In that year, the French defeat at the hands of the English at the Battle of Agincourt, in part because they were over-armored and over-dressed, forced a reckoning. Long houppelandes, bombard sleeves, and decorative dagging declined, and the English and Burgundians took a greater share in fashion leadership.
In the first years of the war-torn fifteenth century, fashion was a battleground where rulers and courtiers lay claim to power with the display of luxury textiles, elaborate dagging and fanciful personal emblems. Throughout the decade, the fashions launched at the court of France influenced the rest of Europe. In England, Germany and Italy, sumptuary laws intent on preserving distinctions between nobles and commoners signal the wealth of the middle class and their increased ability to participate in fashion.
Renaissance beauty was not skin deep. In order to be considered beautiful (and fashionable), an early modern woman must also be virtuous.
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