Baroque fashion was a style of clothing that emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe, characterized by flamboyance, extravagance, and opulence. It reflected the artistic and cultural movement of the Baroque period, which aimed to create drama, exuberance, and grandeur in art, architecture, music, and literature. In this article, we will explore the history, style, and modern influence of Baroque fashion.
History of Baroque Fashion
The Baroque period was a time of political, religious, and social turmoil in Europe. The Thirty Years’ War, the Counter-Reformation, the rise of absolutism, and the emergence of new colonial powers shaped the context of Baroque fashion. The dominant power of Spain in the previous century faded, and France became the center of fashion under the rule of Louis XIV, the Sun King. The court of Versailles set the trends for the rest of Europe, with lavish and elaborate clothing that expressed the wealth and status of the nobility.
Baroque fashion also reflected the artistic innovations of the time, such as the use of perspective, chiaroscuro, and ornamentation. The clothing was made of rich fabrics, such as velvet, silk, and brocade, and decorated with ribbons, lace, embroidery, jewels, and feathers. The colors were vivid and contrasted with each other. The shapes were dramatic and exaggerated, with large ruffled collars, oversized balloon sleeves, padded hips, and voluminous skirts.
Baroque fashion also varied according to different regions and cultures. For example, in Italy, where the Baroque art originated, the clothing was more colorful and playful than in France. In England, where the Restoration of King Charles II brought an end to Puritan austerity, the clothing was more relaxed and indulgent than in Spain. In the Netherlands, where a prosperous merchant class emerged, the clothing was more sober and practical than in Germany.
Style of Baroque Fashion
Baroque fashion can be divided into two main periods: the early Baroque (c. 1600-1650) and the late Baroque (c. 1650-1720). The early Baroque was influenced by the Spanish style of clothing, which was rigid and geometric. The late Baroque was influenced by the French style of clothing, which was soft and flowing.
Early Baroque Style
The early Baroque style was characterized by:
- Ruff collars: These were large circular collars made of starched linen or lace that surrounded the neck. They were worn by both men and women and could reach up to a foot in diameter.
- Doublet: This was a close-fitting jacket worn by men over a shirt. It had a high waistline that ended in a point or a curve at the front. It also had long sleeves that were slashed or puffed at the shoulders.
- Breeches: These were short trousers worn by men that reached to the knee or mid-calf. They were baggy and often decorated with ribbons or bows.
- Gown: This was a long dress worn by women over a corset and an underskirt. It had a tight bodice that ended in an inverted arch at the waist. It also had long sleeves that were tight at the wrist or flared at the elbow.
- Farthingale: This was a hoop-skirt worn by women under their gowns to create a cone-shaped silhouette. It was made of whalebone or metal hoops covered with fabric.
- Shoes: These were square-toed shoes worn by both men and women. They were often made of leather or velvet and had heels or platforms.
Late Baroque Style
The late Baroque style was characterized by:
- Cravat: This was a long strip of fabric worn by men around their necks instead of a ruff collar. It was often made of lace or silk and tied in a bow or a knot.
- Coat: This was a long jacket worn by men over a waistcoat and a shirt. It had a low waistline that followed the natural curve of the body. It also had long sleeves that were narrow at the wrist or cuffed at the elbow.
- Waistcoat: This was a sleeveless vest worn by men under their coats. It had buttons down the front and pockets on the sides.
- Breeches: These were short trousers worn by men that reached to just below the knee. They were fitted and often had buckles or buttons at the hem.
- Mantua: This was a loose-fitting dress worn by women over a corset and an underskirt. It had an open front that revealed the underskirt. It also had long sleeves that were wide at the shoulder or elbow.
- Panniers: These were basket-like structures worn by women under their mantuas to create a wide-hipped silhouette. They were made of cane or metal rods covered with fabric.
- Shoes: These were pointed-toed shoes worn by both men and women. They were often made of silk or brocade and had heels or buckles.
Modern Influence of Baroque Fashion
Baroque fashion has influenced modern fashion in various ways. Some of the examples are:
- The use of rich fabrics, such as velvet, silk, and brocade, in haute couture and evening wear.
- The use of vivid colors, ribbons, and beaded embroidery in ethnic and bohemian fashion.
- The use of ruffles, lace, and corsets in romantic and gothic fashion.
- The use of exaggerated shapes, such as puffy sleeves, padded hips, and voluminous skirts, in avant-garde and theatrical fashion.
- The use of perspective, chiaroscuro, and ornamentation in artistic and graphic fashion.
Baroque fashion is also a source of inspiration for many designers and brands, such as Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, Balmain, and Versace. They often incorporate elements of Baroque fashion into their collections, such as floral prints, gold accents, baroque pearls, and rococo motifs.
Baroque fashion is a style that reflects the artistic and cultural movement of the Baroque period. It is a style that celebrates drama, exuberance, and grandeur in clothing. It is a style that has influenced and continues to influence modern fashion in various ways.