Late Medieval to Renaissance Fashion
- Publication Type:
- Mcneil Peter 2009, 'Late Medieval to Renaissance Fashion', in NA (ed.), Berg Publishers, Oxford and New York, pp. ix-xlii.
- Issue Date:
A well-established history of costume has argued that a dynamic fashion system emerged within a conjunction of the competing polities of France, England and Burgundy in the la te Middle Ages, and also that, around 1350, men began to ap? pear very different in their dress from women. The textiles and Other components of which fashion was manufactured were the focus of the medieval economy, an ancient and expanding trade spreadi ng innovation and promoting new aesthetics. Already by the fou rteenth century the majority of guilds in towns were occupied with providing luxury dress and trading in its components. Workshops began ro sep? arate from princely courtS and disseminated high levels of specialization. The most skilful makers moved from place to place, sometimes avoid ing corporate constraint and spreading new aesthetics within portable objects such as tailored clothes, textiles, embroideries, illuminated books, sta tuettes and jewels. Fashions in dress were centra l to technological innovation and the culture of social legibi liry and hierarchical display that characterized late medieval and Rena issance Europe. Although the idea of the 'Dark Ages' remains tenacious, alternative views of medieval life argue that the loss of certain hiera rch ies and the rise of print culture permitted Western Europe to develop a certain 'openness' to competing sets of ideas which produced new social forms.
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