16th century, 17th century, Elizabethan, Jacobean, Rebato Collar, reconstruction, Tutorial, Uncategorized

Rebato, c. 1600-1625 | Part Five: Finishing the Rebato

  1. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part One: Brief History and Materials
  2. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part Two: The Pattern
  3. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part Three: Making the Wire Frame
  4. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part Four: Making the Linen Collar
  5. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part Five: Finishing the Rebato

010b3b9a4791e58b10474bcaf04ac3af653e851010

1. Pin the collar to the frame and check that it looks correct. Try it on!

 

95976900_242987986763606_5389020406889840640_n
2. Wrap fine wire around the outside edge of the frame, weaving in and out of the lace trim as shown.

 

01ab128064ed1bad9c6a3a7ef534cae7a04048948a
3. Weaving the wiring in and out of the lace (every 2-3 points) to create ^ ^ ^ shapes will help the lace to stick out and maintain its shape.

 

01ff5bb2c2349edf83952fb5466688e3c4b585170a
4. Finish attaching the outer edge of the collar by whip stitching the linen to the metal frame.

 

018c528ff82b4e61401481cd3a6e21eb3a62433b4a
5. Hem the inner edge of the collar. Pull the linen taught over the frame. Fold inner edge of linen collar over the inner edge of the frame and pin down.

 

011ecfc66ef1dcb353fd69cc95def3354f01bed898
6. Sew this inner edge down using a whip stitch.

 

01520a76653aa61c5119d21caaa908518330b1f007
7. Done! You can attach a little bit of ribbon (choose one that matches your outfit) to tie the sides together when wearing the rebato.

 

Finished Product

 

 

16th century, 17th century, Elizabethan, Jacobean, Tutorial

Rebato, c. 1600-1625 | Part Four: Making the Linen Collar

  1. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part One: Brief History and Materials
  2. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part Two: The Pattern
  3. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part Three: Making the Wire Frame
  4. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part Four: Making the Linen Collar
  5. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part Five: Finishing the Rebato

 

0139f177561cb525cc3c4890c2cc8b8f57056fd17a

1. Place and cut the pattern. I’m using a lightweight semi-transparent linen.

 

0104ec8b83818652f38bd1dc3588c904ff6b06bfd2
2. Hem the outside edge (narrow hem) of the collar. Pleat the inner band of the linen collar.

 

01d2f219dd124e5dfba493b0f0910114e3c9312910
3. Check that the pleats are even and the shape looks like this.

 

0117e9217d95f982bb04d05a0780f8e39932c64976
4. Check that the linen collar fits the rebato frame. Sew down the pleats and iron flat.

 

0101d3cc6c468eb5e5773e50f624961fa832ccdf22
5. Choose a decorative lace trim. Here I’m using 3cm wide guipure lace, which is a type of bobbin lace

 

01e263991b17cc0dbbead8dc22e116e649cd1b88ff
6. Sew the lace on.

 

015b53174f2191ae84bd9dd9b224685460bb2e3785
7. And your collar is finished.

16th century, 17th century, Elizabethan, Jacobean, Rebato Collar, Stuart, Tutorial, Uncategorized

Rebato, c. 1600-1625 | Part Three: Making the Wire Frame

  1. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part One: Brief History and Materials
  2. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part Two: The Pattern
  3. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part Three: Making the Wire Frame
  4. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part Four: Making the Linen Collar
  5. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part Five: Finishing the Rebato

0193ee805da7a040f4523c9fc42f95ce9bb3e99b66

1. Using my pattern, draw out the shape of the rebato collar on tracing paper (or baking paper as I’m using here). I took size inspiration from looking at portraits from the period.

 

01c041659682886661e00530e49077efa03b4406fd
2. Place the paper on your mannequin or even a styrofoam head to check the size. Adjust as needed.

 

0127d6176624dc8abb3a750c7f5abc0e1e4a7a2fad
3. For the intricate loops and inner frame I chose to use two sizes of copper jewellery wire, as this was easy to bend and mould into any desired shape. I twisted these into loops with long stems as shown. They should look a bit like spoons 🥄 🥄

 

0175a81a5afb0d6f57433733183d5894bbe30c01fb
4. I placed these loops onto my pattern to check for size. It also gave me an idea of how many I would need to make, how long they should be, and how far apart they would be spaced.

 

01673d64118f8cfd678d9e31aca9835ba014998f75
5. For the outer frame of my rebato I decided to use a relatively thick galvanised tie wire that I picked up from my local hardware store. This was to make sure that the rebato would be sturdy and keep its shape. Again I kept comparing with my pattern piece to check to shape and size.

 

015d748cce0c97e6100d36f882e57566f7b0462c22
6. Place the loops on top of the outer frame to check placement.

 

01df1c62b35ab7933be23afa2ce15fbc42f3399857
7. Once you’re happy with the placement start to attach the stem of the loops by wrapping the excess wire around the frame. To secure the loops themselves use thin jewellery wire, winding it around both lots of wire as shown.

 

01209c04db253d02dbc410628d1b90210e6883c785
8. Thread other wire through the loops,, following the semi circular shape of the outer frame. This will add stability.

0107251635c7fa92b1c43bd8ffab019c0e79271368
9. Once you’ve done that the frame is finished!

16th century, 17th century, Elizabethan, Jacobean, pattern, Rebato Collar, Stuart, Uncategorized

Rebato, c. 1600-1625 | Part Two: The Pattern

  1. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part One: Brief History and Materials
  2. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part Two: The Pattern
  3. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part Three: Making the Wire Frame
  4. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part Four: Making the Linen Collar
  5. Rebato, c. 1600-1625 Part Five: Finishing the Rebato

My rebato is based on a pattern drafted by myself using the rebato from the Musée national de la Renaissance-Chateau d’Écouen in Paris as inspiration (see previous post).

The linen standing collar was based primarily on a portrait of a young French woman in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:

Etienne_Dumonstier_-_Portrait_of_a_Woman_-_65.2642_-_Museum_of_Fine_Arts
Étienne Dumonstier, Portrait of a Woman, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 65.2642

I also used the standing collar pattern in The Tudor Tailor as a guide and took much inspiration from the rebato made by the Couture Courtesan on her blog.

Pattern

17th century rebato pattern jacobean bendall

Click here to access a printable PDF version of the pattern. 

The pattern will make:

 

16th century, 17th century, Manuscript / Archival Research, Tailoring

The tailoring Trade in Seventeenth-Century Oxford – Tales from the Bodleian Archive.

In 2018 I had the pleasure of being a David Walker Memorial visiting fellow at the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford. The Bodleian Library contains one of the largest collections of guild records (MS Morrell series) relating to tailoring outside of London. My research aims were to learn more about these trades and their craft in England during the seventeenth century and to see if I could find any evidence of body-making or farthingale-making in this guild or indeed the city.

Although I found no evidence of these separate branches of tailoring in Oxford, the MS Morrell records reveal fascinating and important insights into the everyday life of tailors and the role that these artisans and their guild played in the social and economic community of Oxford at the time. In 1621 it was estimated by the Oxford guild that the trade directly supported a population (tailors and their families) of five hundred people in the city and surrounds. Various donations to poor members or the guild for things such as clothing and burial expenses during sixteenth and seventeenth centuries demonstrate the importance of the guild to this community.

The records that yielded the most interesting information were the guilds ordinances, meeting books and wardens books, as they contain both company orders and fines given out when those rules were disobeyed give detailed information about the daily lives of tailors. These records reveal the quality control measures that took place within the trade (and fines received for poor quality work), how tailors were and were not allowed to approach customers, where and when tailors could ply their trade, descriptions of certain aspects of shops and working chambers, and the complex relationships between Masters, Journeymen and Apprentices.

IMG_5583
MS Morrell 6, Bodleian Libraries Oxford

Select examples from the records include a fine issued to Thomas Day in 1600 for “begging worke of other mens customers” and in 1604 a Richard Palmer was fine “for suffering Robert Baylie to worke in his house & to carry home worke to his owne house & to his owne vse, forfeyted & paid.” Tailors in the city were clearly expected to attract their own customers without begging and not to undertake work in living chambers, but rather in commercial spaces like shop fronts.

Other fines were issued for the behaviour of tailors and their apprentices, indicating that the company sought to uphold the behaviour and hierarchies of respect within the profession. In 1622 John Ffayrebeard was fined “for calling MS [master] Steevens late MS of the company Jack a Napes and foole” – jack a napes here meaning a monkey. The most common fine in the guild’s books are aimed at tailors who were “workinge disorderlie” – what this actually meant though is hard to gauge as very little detail is offered beyond this description, so it likely covered a wide range of offences.

The records also reveal measures taken by the guild and its members to maintain the monopoly on the types of garments that were made by tailors. For example, records reveal that during the 1660s to 1680s the guild had ongoing disputes with both the Glovers and the Milliners who were accused of selling garments that were usually made by tailors, such as leather breeches, or ready-made clothing in Oxford, which threatened the tailoring trade. Many tailors were also punished for selling ready-made clothing, which undermined the relationship between tailors and their customers, and the bespoke nature of the tailor’s work. This is all crucial information that allows us to build a picture of the tailoring trade, whose skills and knowledge were taught orally and tacitly from Master to apprentice.

RP-P-OB-44.458
Jan Luyken, Kleermaker [Tailor], 1694, print. Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, RP-P-OB-44.458.
Additionally, these records offer insights into the roles that women played in tailoring and the guild. Female apprentices do not appear in the tailors guild records, except in a few instances where their Masters received fines for employing a woman which was against “ye bylaws of th[e] Company…” Widows do appear in election records, meeting notes and quarterages paid, however, this was not until the 1610s. This indicates that it was only at the start of the seventeenth century that widows, who were continuing their husband’s business after his death, were recognised as legitimate members of the guild and could hold similar powers within the guild as their male counterparts, such as voting in elections. Various records relating to meeting and fines also reveal that widows could have apprentices, hire journeymen and were fined for disobeying orders, just as other members of the guild were.

For example, in 1626 John Wildcroose was fined for trading in his own house under the “pretext of Widdow Bolton whose name and freedom was merely vsed by his craft to bolsten out his fraud”, while later in 1666 the widow Jane Slatter was fined for “setting a journeyman to work without him being sworn.” It was expected that widows should employ their own journeymen or apprentices, as another fine issued in 1626 to Robbe Mooney for “makeinge a contracte wth widdow Norland that for paieinge… he should have the use of her shoppe.” One particular widow, Ann Dudly, was repeatedly fined between the years 1660-70 for refusing to attend meetings when summoned and for “sending to the Master a very sleight answer”, indicating that widows held a similar position in the company as their male peers.

All this information about tailoring in Oxford gives insights into the production of clothing in sixteenth and seventeenth-century England and the gendered distribution of labour within such trades. I’ll be using some of the research I did in Oxford, alongside the archival work I undertook at the Drapers’ and Clothworkers’ Companies in London, in my forthcoming monograph in a chapter on making and selling foundation garments in early modern England.

 

 

16th century, 17th century, Bodies and Stays, Elizabethan, Farthingales, Jacobean, Research Publications, Stuart

Shaping Femininity – Forthcoming monograph with Bloomsbury

I have recently signed my contract so I am so delighted to announce that my first book based on much of the research that this blog showcases will be published by Bloomsbury Academic/Visual Arts.

Figure 9

Shaping Femininity is the first large-scale study of the materiality, production, consumption, and meanings of foundation garments for women in sixteenth and seventeenth-century England. The desirable body during this period was achieved by using two types of foundation garments: bodies (corsetry) and farthingales (skirt-shaping structures). It was this structured female silhouette, first seen in sixteenth-century fashionable dress, that existed in various extremes in Western Europe and beyond until the early twentieth century. By utilising a wide array of archival and early printed materials, visual sources and material objects, as well as historical reconstruction, Shaping Femininity reorients discussions about female foundation garments by exploring the nuances of these items of material culture in the context of their own times. It argues that these objects of material culture shaped understandings of the female body and of ideas of beauty, social status, health, sexuality, and modesty in early modern England, and thus, enduring western notions of femininity.

2010EB2907_2500

I’m very excited to be publishing with Bloomsbury and to bring audiences an accessible academic book. At the moment it is early stages, but make sure to keep an eye on this space for more details about release date, etc.

16th century, Manuscript / Archival Research

Isabella d’Este’s Chemises – Translations from the 1539 Inventory

RP-P-OB-33.124
Seventeenth-century copy of Titian’s painting of Isabella. From the Rijkmuseum, Amsterdam.

I was recently asked to be an allied researcher on the ACIS project Textiles, Trade and Meaning in Italy: 1400-2018, particularly in relation to the clothing and textiles at the court of Mantua under Isabella d’Este. As part of this project I was asked to write a short piece on Isabella’s underwear, as part of a collection of short essays that will accompany the portrait of the Marchesa by Titian on the Isabella D’Este Archive (IDEAS).

Now Isabella was living at the time in the early sixteenth century when the undergarments that my work usually focuses on – bodies and farthingales – were not yet found in the wardrobes of Italy’s elites (although bodices as an outer-garment were certainly available). So that left me to write about Isabella’s main undergarments – her chemises or smocks.

To write about this topic firstly I needed to get an idea of what sort of chemises Isabella actually owned. This is where this great edited volume came into play:

Daniela Ferrari, Le Collezioni Gonzaga: L’inventario dei beni del 1540–1542, ed. Daniela Ferrari (Milan: Silvana, 2003)

The volume contains many inventories relating to the Gonzaga family of Mantua, including Isabella’s household and wardrobe inventories that were taken after her death.

My contribution to the project is not up on the website yet, but in the meantime I wanted to share my English translations of some of the chemises in Isabella’s post-mortem inventory from 1539. Please note that these are my english translations of some of the text from the Gonzaga volume, so all credit goes to Daniela Ferrari for transcribing and publishing these records from the original papers. 

 

The Translations

  • Camise (from Stivini, Le Collezioni Gonzaga, 234)

Una camisa da bagno de banbaso, lavorada de oro
A bathing chemise of linen, wrought with gold

una camisa de cambraglia granda, lavorada de oro
A large cambric chemise, wrought with gold

una camis da homo de cambraglia, lavorada de oro
one men’s cambric shirt, wrought with gold

due camise de bambaso, lavorate di seda negra suso le crespe
two linen chemises, with black silk trimmings under the pleats/folds

una camisa di tela batiza lavorada di seda negra, inzipado il colar
one chemise of fine linen cloth with black silk work, around the collar
[tela batiza = cloth used for baptisms, so a fine linen cloth]

una manica de camisa de cambralia, lavorata de oro seda de più colori,
one sleeve of a cambric chemise, wrought with gold silk of more colours

quatro grombiali di cambralia, lavorati cum oro, listadi al longo, videlicet uno di seda negra,
four cambric smocks, wrought with gold thread, striped vertically, one of which is black silk

uno par de maniche large, listade cum lavorerii di seda negra
one pair of large sleeves, with stripes of black silk

 

Of interest here is Isabella’s bathing chemise. These chemises may have resembled those worn by the bathmaids in the image from this fifteenth-century bible from the Library of the National Museum in Prague. Perhaps the gold work in these chemises refers to the neckline and straps that are visible on these garments. Isabella may have worn this chemise or one like it when she visited the hot springs at the thermal spa of Abano south of Padua in 1532 (Shaw, 275).

bathing chemise Praha, Knihovna Národního muzea, IV.B.24

 

  • Camise (from Stivini, Le Collezioni Gonzaga, 240)

Due camise di tela de renso, lavorate di seda zizola, videlicet una a traverso e una al sbiasso,
Two chemises of Rheims linen, worked of silk dyed with the fruit of the jujube, one embroidered crosswise and the other biaxially

due camise di tela di renso, lavorate di seda cremesina, videlicet una al longo e l’altra al traverso
two chemises of cloth of fine linen, wrought of with silk dyed with kermes, one with the embroidery lengthways and the other horizontally (sideways).

due camise di tela di renso, lavorate cum seda turchina, listadi al longo
two chemises of cloth of fine linen, wrought with turquoise blue silk and striped vertically

una camisa di tela di renso, lavorata cum seda incarnada
one chemises of cloth of fine linen, wrought with bright red silk

una camisa di tela di renso, lavorata cum seda morella,
one chemise of cloth of fine linen, wrought with mulberry red silk

due camise di tela di renso, lavorate cum seda turchina, videlicet le cositure maestre,
two chemises of cloth of fine linen, wrought with turquoise blue coloured silk on the front.

quarantaotto camise di tela di renso, da notte, lavorate cum seda negra,
Forty-eight nighgowns of Rheims linen, wrought with black silk

decesette camise di tela di renso, all spagnola, lavorate cum seda negra
seventeen chemises of Rheims linen, Spanish style, wrought with black silk

due camise di tela di renso, all spagnola, lavorate cum seda biancha
two chemises of cloth of fine linen, Spanish style, wrought with white silk

 

The chemises embroidered with silk threads of various colours around the collars and cuffs may have resembled a contemporary men’s shirt in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

2009BW6757_jpg_l
Shirt, English, c 1540. Linen, linen thread, silk thread. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, T.112-1972.

 

Sources:

Daniela Ferrari, Le Collezioni Gonzaga: L’inventario dei beni del 1540–1542, ed. Daniela Ferrari (Milan: Silvana, 2003)

Christine Shaw, Isabella d’Este: a Renaissance Princess (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2019)

http://realmofvenus.renaissanceitaly.net/library/fabricglossary.htm

 

*** Many thanks to Professor Carolyn James and Jessica O’Leary for their assistance with these translations. 

16th century, 17th century, Farthingales, French Farthingale Roll Reconstruction, French Wheel Farthingale Reconstruction, Jacobean, Manuscript / Archival Research, Object Research, Research Publications

The Case of the “French Vardinggale”: A Methodological Approach to Reconstructing and Understanding Ephemeral Garments | New Research Article

0129a17cc8cd74dfb03b1cbb9412bfeedd89ad0e3b
Reconstruction of French Wheel Farthingale, c. 1610s

I’m delighted to announce that my new article was published on Friday! It’s about the experimental reconstructions I did as part of my PhD – some of which are documented here on this very blog. It talks about why historians should engage in experimental reconstruction, and what we can and can’t learn about artisanal knowledge and practices, as well as embodied experiences.

It is part of a bigger special issue in the journal Fashion Theory on the “Making Turn” edited by Professor Peter McNeil (UTS) and Dr Melissa Bellanta (ACU), with editor-in-chief Dr Valerie Steele (FIT NY).

So far, only my article is available on early view. However, if you are interested in historical reconstruction as a research practice, please make sure to check back to the journal over the next few weeks as my colleagues’ papers will also appear. I will link them in this blogpost as they are released:

Now that the article is out I’ll be doing a more layman’s blogpost series about how I made the French wheel farthingale. But if you’d like to read the article please click on the link below to get institutional access. If you don’t have access but would still be interested to read it please get in touch and I will see what I can do!

 

Abstract:

This article showcases experimental dress reconstruction as a valuable research tool for the historian. It presents a case study detailing how two underskirts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, French Farthingale Rolls and French Wheel Farthingales, were reconstructed using historical techniques and experimental methodologies. The first section outlines my methodological approach to reconstructing these ephemeral garments, exploiting archival and printed records, visual sources, and knowledge of seventeenth-century sewing techniques. The second section focuses on the experience of reconstruction and shows how this process allows the historian to form tacit knowledge. This section also raises questions and provides answers about artisanal design practices such as reflective rationality, embodied experiences, and tacit skills that cannot be accessed in other ways. Finally, this article shows how reconstruction can inform understandings of the embodied experiences of dressing and wearing. Dressing the female body in the reconstructed underskirts discussed in this article made it possible to observe the garments’ practical realities and challenge polemical historical sources concerning fashionable sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European dress.

Keywords: reconstruction, dress, farthingales, experimental dress methodology, embodied knowledge

 

Publication Details:

https://doi.org/10.1080/1362704X.2019.1603862

 

Click here to read the Article in Fashion Theory

15th century, 16th century, Armour, Object Research

When “Medieval” Armour is not quite medieval… Plate Armour and the Renaissance.

990D00A9-FC92-4697-928C-72F866E56C7A
PBS documentary “Secrets is the Shining Knight

Did you know that much of the full body plate armour that we think of as being medieval is usually not medieval at all?

If you type “medieval armour” into google images then chances are that something like this will appear:

medieval armour

Yet the majority of examples of armour shown here are in fact from the Renaissance, or the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, which is when plate armour reached its zenith in Europe. In fact, during much the medieval period men did not really wear the full body suits of plated armour that the general public have come to associate with the “Knight in Shining Armour” stereotype from film and television.

lossy-page1-600px-Rustning2C_Gustav_Vasa_-_Livrustkammaren_-_32921.tif_
Kunz Lochner, Armour of Gustav I of Sweden, c. 1540. Stockholm: Livrustkammaren.

As Tobias Capwell, curator of the Wallace collection, has mentioned, “in the fourteenth century they couldn’t make [the] big pieces of iron and steel” that characterise the suits of armour in the google search image above. Rather, they found other ways of protecting the body: chain mail or padded textiles, such as the jupon of the Black Prince.[1] 

Jupon - Black Prince
Jupon of the Black Prince (Edward Plantagenet), c. 1370s. Cantebury: Cantebury Cathedral.

Now you could spend years debating when the medieval period ends and the Renaissance / early modern starts. For example, historians of England would argue that the medieval period ended in England after the War of the Roses in 1485, while historians of Spain would say it did end there around 1510 with the deaths of Isabella of Castile or later, Ferdinand. The Renaissance is generally categorised as lasting between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, although Renaissance is quite a regional term that most often applied to Italian city states. Generally though, it is agreed that the early modern period, which is a little broader in scope than Renaissance, started in 1500 and ended in 1800.

hjrk_a_62_34429
Lorenz Helmschmid, Armour of Maximilian I, c. 1485. Vienna: Kunsthistorisches Museum,
Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer, A 62.

For the sake of this post though, it is my opinion that the majority of plate armour in the popular imagination of the general public is more characteristic of the later Renaissance period, than of the medieval (although I could be wrong, tell me what you think below!).

kk_5073_201801_fol001
From the Tournament book of Emperor Maximilian I, c. 1512-1515. Vienna: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Kunstkammer, 5073

Armour design and armourers thrived in the first half of the sixteenth century. This was due to one central conflict that raged throughout Europe during the first sixty years of that century: the Habsburg-Valois Wars, also better known as the Italian Wars (1494 – 1559). These were a series of conflicts between the rival French Valois dynasty and the Spanish-Austrian Habsburg dynasty, primarily fought over territory in the Italian Peninsula. Although many of the battles were fought in what is now Italy, the rivalry involved much of Western Europe at the time, and drew in nations such as England, Scotland, as well as the German and Swiss Provinces. The fact that this conflict lasted decades meant that practical armour was not just required, but the rivalry between Renaissance monarchs such as the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and the French King Francis I required magnificent ceremonial armour that displayed their military prowess, wealth and importance.

rp-p-bi-6603
Dirck Volckertsz Coornhert and Cornelis Bos after Maarten van Heemskerck, The Capture of Francis I by the forces of Charles V during the Battle of Pavia in 1525, c. 1555-56. Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, RP-P-BI-6603.

In fact some of the most famous plate armourers in history were Renaissance artisans who were patronised by key figures of the Italian Wars. As Silvio Leydi has explained, from “the French invasion of 1499 to the peace with France in 1559” Milan was “at the centre of every war between the Habsburgs and the Valois”, and it was successively occupied by various forces throughout the conflict.[2] This involvement with the conflict was capitalised on by Milanese artisans and talented family workshops, such as that of the Negroli family, was established, the most famous of who were Filippo and Giovan Paolo.

dg122333__d-1
Filippo Negroli, Classical Roman Burgonet of Charles V, Milanese, c. 1533. Madrid: Royal Armoury, 10000075 – 10000076, D-1; D-2

The Negroli family boasted customers such as Emperor Charles V, King Francis I, Henry II of France, and Francesco Maria I Della Rovere, Duke of Urbino. We know this because much of the armour they created bears their makers mark and has survived in royal armoury collections.

1441da22-80b7-49a8-8612-f4a632122fa9
Filippo and Francesco Negroli, The Dolphin Armour of the Dauphin Henry (later Henry II), c. 1540. Musée de l’Armée, Inv. G 118

Talented armourers also arose in Habsburg territories such as the Seusenhofer brothers, Hans and Konrad, from Innsbruck in Austria. In fact, their workshop was the court workshop of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I of Austria, and the Emperor regularly commissioned armour for both himself and as gifts for others.[3] Many iconic pieces by the Seusenhofer brothers, and Han’s son Jorg Seusenhofer, appear in various armour collections across Europe such as those of Maximilian I, Charles V, Henry VIII England and Francis I.

armet - the horned helmet (1512)
Konrad Seusenhofer, Armet – The Horned Helmet gifted to Henry VIII by Maximilian I, c. 1512. Leeds: Royal Armouries, IV. 22

As part of my postdoctoral work on fashion during the Italian Wars I travelled to Austria, Spain and France to view a lot of Renaissance armour. Although this is somewhat out of my usual expertise (although there are many parallels you could draw between armour and fashion during the sixteenth century), I found this learning experience helpful to understanding the connections between armour and fashion, as well to key aspects of Renaissance thought such as their conceptualisation of classical antiquity. This was also when my idea of a medieval knight and shining armour was challenged.

Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll outline some of the main styles of Renaissance armour that were prevalent during and advanced by the events of the Italian Wars.

 

 

References:

[1] A Stitch in Time. 2018. Episode no. 5-6, first broadcast January 03 by BBC Four. Directed by Lucy Kenwright and created by Adam Reeve.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xy-uMO4BvbA

[2] Silvio Leydi, ‘Milan and the Arms Industry in the Sixteenth Century’, in Stuart W. Pyhrr and José-A. Godoy, Heroic Armor of the Italian Renaissance: Filippo Negroli and his Contemporaries (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, distributed by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1998), p. 25.

[3] Pierre Terjanian, ‘Notes on the early life and career of Hans Seusenhofer, court armorer of Emperors Maximilian I and Ferdinand I in Innsbruck’, from The Antique Arms Fair At Olympia, London (2018), p. 26

16th century, 17th century, Bodies and Stays, Jacobean, Manuscript / Archival Research, Object Research

Bodies or Stays? Underwear or Outerwear? Seventeenth-century Foundation Garments explained.

2003-109-2e
Bodies and Stomacher of Dame Elizabeth Filmer (front), c. 1630-1650. Gallery of Costume, Platt Hall, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester

What should we call the torso-shaping female foundation garments of the seventeenth century? Were they pairs of bodies? Bodices? Stays? Corsets? Moreover, how were they worn? Were they underwear or were the outerwear?

This post was inspired by a question that I saw written on an Instagram post uploaded by the very talented Morgan Donner about a pattern from the new Patterns of Fashion 5:

“17th Century things are so 😍… one thing I’m curious about is that I’ve seen boned bodices for gowns, and then stays, and then stays with sleeves. I assume the latter are basically worn as “tops”, and that boned gown bodices obviously wouldn’t have stays under them… so are the stays only for under the lovely embroidered jackets and such?”

As I did my PhD on bodies and farthingales, and my upcoming book looks at these garments and the way they shaped ideas of femininity, this question inspired me to make this post to clear the air. Not just about terminology, but also in an attempt to answer this question as it is much more complicated than it seems!

 

Bodies or Stays?

As long-term followers of my blog and my research my have surmised, I rarely use the term “stays” when I talk about sixteenth and seventeenth-century foundation garments, even though museums and other publications almost always do. Randle Holme’s famous 1688 manual most famously makes the distinction between “smooth covered stays” and “stitched stays”, something which Jenny Tiramani emphasises in the new Patterns of Fashion 5: The content, cut, construction and context of bodies, stays, hoops and rumps c.1595-1795.

Why then do I not use the term stays when so many others do? Well, in my almost six years of archival research  I have never seen the term “stays” used in historical documents to refer to these garments until at least the 1680s, which is when Randle Holme was writing.

The term stays does appear in the records from the middle of the century, however, it always refers to the stiffening in the garments that are being made – not to the garments themselves. Artisan’s bills will often quote a total price for the garment and then break down the price of each component of that garment. For example, a tailor’s bill might look something like this:

A pair of bodies of crimson satin bodies with silver lace ______ 00 – 00 – 00
for 1 yard 1/2 of silk at 11s the yard ________ 00 – 00 – 00
for calico to the lining __________ 00 – 00 – 00
for silver lace to them __________ 00 – 00 – 00
for stayes and stiffenings __________ 00 – 00 – 00
for making and furnishing ___________ 00-00-00

Therefore, “stayes and stiffenings” refers to the materials used to stiffen these garments like whalebone, not to the actual garment itself. Additionally, “stays” referring to stiffening does not just appear in women’s clothing bills. I have also found references to “stay and buckram” in tailoring bills for menswear, such as a suit and coat from 1680 on this occasion.

This is why in my own research I use the terminology “bodies” or “pair of bodies” when I refer to these garments that would later come to be called stays and corsets. For me it is important to use the terminology that was used at the time, otherwise we are placing slightly anachronistic modern assumptions onto this clothing. This becomes especially important when it comes to answering the next question of this blog entry regarding the ambiguity of bodies as under or outer wear in the seventeenth century.

 

Underwear or Outerwear?

giphy

As you can probably tell the early modern term “bodies” sounds an awful lot like the modern term “bodice”, and that is because the term bodice is derived from bodies! Anybody who has read early modern English sources before knows that there was little to no standardised spelling at the time, and so words were regularly spelled different ways (even when they were only sentences apart). Thus, these are terms that are regularly conflated and used interchangeably in the archival sources from this century.

Variations in spelling included: bodies, bodyes, bodis, bodice, boddisses, etc. “I” and “Y” were interchangeable vowels in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries so “bodys” could be spelt “bodis” and then “bodis” spelt “bodice” (so bodys = bodis = bodice, confused yet?). So there appears to be no rhyme or reason for most of the century as to what a “bodie” is vs a “bodice”, or whether one is an under garment or an outer garment.

In the seventeenth century there was no firm distinction between under and outer wear as we see in later centuries when it came to bodies, or other items of women’s dress like petticoats. So “bodies” could be either outerwear or underwear, it all depended on a woman’s social status, the occasion she was dressing for, or maybe her own personal taste. Some surviving bodies from this century contain detachable sleeves (that are laced on with points), indicating that the uses of this garment were flexible, and its use could be easily manipulated depending on the situation it was worn in. Detachable sleeves were also worn in earlier Elizabethan petticoats (see more about that here).

2010EB2907_2500
Bodies with detachable sleeves, pink watered silk trimmed with pink silk taffeta ribbons, English, c. 1660-1670. Victorian and Albert Museum, London

Detachable sleeves on elaborate bodies may have been worn with a matching skirt to form a gown, but on other occasions the sleeves may have been taken off and the bodies worn underneath what we would now call a jacket (but at the time was known as a waistcoat).

1660s_gown_bodies_detachablesleeves_bendall
1660s Gown containing a pair of bodies with detachable sleeves. Reconstruction by Sarah A Bendall

The particular decade of the seventeenth century being investigated is also important. For example, the 1660s saw the rise of the very rigid bodices that were retained for court wear in countries like France well into the eighteenth centuries. The highly boned nature of this garment meant that separately boned bodies were not needed or worn underneath. However, I would be hesitant to claim that this means that under-bodies were discarded during these centuries – as this highly boned style was not universally worn, nor would it have been worn all the time, even by elite women.

ivory satin bodice vna
Ivory Satin Bodice, English, c. 1660-1669. Victorian and Albert Museum, London

Overall, there doesn’t seem to have been any hard or fast rules for how to wear bodies during the seventeenth century, and there definitely was not the major distinction between underwear and outerwear like there is in regards to stays later in the eighteenth century, or the corsets of the nineteenth century. However, there is still a lot to uncover, and I hope to tackle this question in my forthcoming book, so who knows, maybe soon I will have a better answer!