The amazing Italian designers of today have a longstanding tradition and history returning a thousand years. The Venetian traders from the 12th century cut back luxurious fabrics, beading and other innovative trends that were the truth to fashion in Western Europe.
Marco Polo was among these early explorers to bring a taste of the east to then-modern Europe. Silk, specifically, was a coveted material worn by the wealthy wives of Venetian merchants. The courtesans were also colorfully dressed, helping to finish the drab and never-ending Dark Ages.
Many of these trends copied eastern clothing patterns. Jewelry and cosmetics also became a fashion standard for the top of class. Over 500 years time, the cities of Venice, Florence and Milan were known as the most trendsetting fashion leaders in Europe. Other important centers included Bologna, Genoa (where Christopher Columbus’father worked as a weaver), Turin, and Naples in the far south.
St. Francis of Assisi was a nobleman before he visited serve the Church. He and his family were one of the well-dressed citizens of Assisi, and his friend and “fiancée” Saint Claire were also among the very well dressed upper class. Clothes made the person, and exotic fabrics defined both class and success.
During Renaissance times, fashion was king. In italian fashion producers, the renaissance began at least 150 years earlier than the British Isles, around 1400. Linked by sea transport, Italy had ready access to the Silk Road, Egyptian cotton, trade and communication. In those times fashion was a luxury, and not created for the most popular man. The royalty, nobles and wealthy landowners bought fashionable attire for themselves, their loved ones and their courtesans. The famous Medici category of Florence established fact for their elaborate attire especially Catherine, who wore exquisite creations which will be hard to duplicate today.
Italian fashion took a backseat for some time; with French fashion houses becoming the best choice in new designs. King Louis XIV took control of most luxury goods being brought into France. The “fashion season” was originated during his reign in the 1670s, with the introduction of elaborate fashion for both sexes and the wearing of extravagant curled wigs which was to pay for his premature balding.
Henceforth, from the 17th century to 1950, French haute couture was considered crème de la crème. Fashion Models were introduced, historically poor to average standing young women who would be clothed according to the newest fashions and sent out to see potential clientele. The word model stuck, and even today they’re called fashion models, but with the lifestyle of celebrities, not only unknown mannequins. The runway model includes a similar experience to the “model” of the past.
Historically, the elaborate fashion sprees of Marie Antoinette were one of the factors that created great tension one of the poor. As most of us can recall, she was well-known for saying “let them eat cake” when the Parisian poor were left with no bread to eat. This rich – poor imbalance was among the principal reasons for the French Revolution.
From the 1950s until today, Italy were able to regain and retain its position since the leading fashion trendsetting authority in the entire world.
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