Theme 4: Social groups and the circulation of fashion

Principal Investigator 04: Paula Hohti, Finland

 

Giuliano Amadei, Book XXXV, "On Painting", manuscript illumination from Pliny's Historia Naturalis, 1460s. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Giovanni Battista Moroni, The Tailor ('Il Tagliapanni'), about 1565-70, National Gallery, London.

Siena, Pinacoteca nazional, early 14th century.

 


Research Context, Research Questions

Research in Progress

Data Collection: Collective Data Source

Workshops: Workshop 2, Report

Workshops: Objects from Collections

Webtrails: Object in Focus

Knowledge Exchange

Publications (project years 1-3)

 

 

Research Context, Research Questions

Read a full description here.

IP4 takes up the larger question of whether creativity and innovation operated in similar ways in rural as well as urban environments, and in different social circumstances. It asks how fashions moved across social groups in early modern Italy and Sweden, at what speed and with what impact? Many fashionable items (perfumed gloves, fans, canes, light silks fabrics) were reasonably affordable but were often forbidden to non-aristocrats through sumptuary and other laws. The same groups that might make these goods were not, therefore, expected to wear them. This project asks what forms of circulation and dissemination we might need to consider once we move away from the courts and wealthy civic communities; indeed, it asks whether we need to rethink our notions of how fashionable goods became ‘popular’.

This is important because, historians are now increasingly interested in clothing, identifying the wide range of new fashion products and clothing designs that were produced for the European markets from late fifteenth century onwards. Yet, with the important exception of John Styles’ work, most studies that focus on early modern communities have centred on the production and consumption of clothing among wealthy elites, providing scant information about the types of clothing and dress accessories that were disseminated further down the social scale. In consequence, there is a widely held assumption that the working population was largely excluded from innovations in fashionable dress. Yet documentary sources indicate that the desire for, and access to fashionable garments may have been much more widely shared than previously assumed.

 

 

Research in Progress

Between February and June 2011, Principal Investigator 04, Paula Hohti, spent her time as visiting research fellow at the European University Institute, Florence. The aim of this research was not only to carry out research at the University, but also to undertake primary research in the Italian archives. During her stay, Hohti worked extensively in the archives of Sienna, Florence and Lucca, identifying a significant number of previously unidentified documents that concern early modern dress and textiles, including over 200 household inventories. This material, most of which is was reproduced on digital camera, provived Hohti with with a wealth of documentation concerning dress, fashion and textiles. and their circulation in the 16th- and 17th-centuries and enabled her both to carry out the research related to her individual project and to gather materials for the projects’ collective data source. Archival work and research for the project has been conducted in the fo

During her stay in Italy, Hohti also participated in seminars on historical sources, the Italian Renaissance, and in a joint conference day, organized jointly by EUI and Villa I Tatti, the Harvard Centre for Renaissance studies. She met up with students who carried out research on dress history, to discuss their work and engaged in discussions with scholars from Sienna and Florence, in particular with Dr. Philippa Jackson, Prof. Kate Lowe and Dr. Francesco Guidi Bruscoli.

A full report on the research trip in Italy and the archival work and research conducted in Sienna, Lucca and Florence has been placed in the partners’ private area and can be downloaded here.

 

 

Data Collection: Collective Data Source

A wealth of documentation concerning dress, fashion, textiles, and the circulation of clothes across social classes and geographical area in the 16th- and 17th-centuries was collected during Hohti’s visiting fellowship at the EUI. The research material gathered in the archives focused mainly on three different centres, Siena, Lucca and Florence, and around three different decades: 1550’s, 1590’s, 1630’s. This method enabled to identify some of the changes in ownership, regulation and display of clothing, across three geographical areas. The main part of the material was collected from Siena because the sources on clothes for the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century proved to be extremely rich.

In line with one of the project’s overall objectives, a number of data on material objects and visual sources in Scandinavia is currently being collected in relation to the following Fashionable Goods: shoes, shoe and belt buckles, handkerchiefs and ribbons. These are being collected from material available around museums in Finland. The collection of material objects and visual sources has been placed in the private area of the website and can be accessed by going the Data Collection page for IP04.

Data collection on further documentary references to these objects from the Italian documentary database is currently ongoing. These include household inventory material from Siena in the period from 1520s to 1550s.

 

 

Workshops: Workshop 2, Workshop Report

As part of the project, a two-day workshop and museum visit was organised by the Principal Investigator 04 in March 2011 in Helsinki on Social Groups and the Circulation of Fashion. During the two-day event, participants explored how fashions moved across social groups in Europe in the early modern period, focusing particularly on issues such as artisan clothing, second-hand markets, and fashion trasmission across social groups in the early modern period. A workshop programme and abstracts can be viewed here.

The workshop report by Paula Hohti can be downloaded here.

 

Workshops: Objects from Collections

The participants looked at the museum’s textiles and clothing collections, mainly Finnish and Swedish clothes and accessories from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The variety of items on display, from humble everyday dresses to elaborate festive clothes allowed to elaborate on the questions of how dress and fashion were transmitted between social groups. The collection also raised important questions about trade and transport especially during the winter months, and the movement of goods across geographical areas.

Photographs and description of the objects viewed during the museum visit in Porvoo that was organised on day 1 of the workshop, can be viewed here.

 

 

Webtrails: Object in Focus

Early Modern Buckle, Oulu, Finland

In this article, the author Tiina Kukkoanen describes the object of a knee or shoe buckle found in urban archaeological excavations at the NMKY (YMCA) site in the center of the town of Oulu and discusses the social significance of shoe and knee buckles in the seventeenth and eighteenth century both in Sweden and the rest of Europe.

 

 

Knowledge Exchange, Knowledge Transfer

During the first day of the Helsinki Workhshop, participants visited the Porvoo museum and the Marrimekko quarters. These visits provided ample opportunity for lively discussions and knowledge exchange between academics, museum professionals and designer communities. The organisation of this event unabled PI)4 to extend the workshop’s aims beyond the project and to create an interdisciplinary community of academics, museum curators and design professionals in Finland.

  • Visit to the Porvoo Museum, Workshop 2

The participants looked at the museum’s textiles and clothing collections, mainly Finnish and Swedish clothes and accessories from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The variety of items on display, from humble everyday dresses to elaborate festive clothes allowed to elaborate on the questions of how dress and fashion were transmitted between social groups. The collection also raised important questions about trade and transport especially during the winter months, and the movement of goods across geographical areas.

  • Visit at the Marimekko Headquaters, Workshop 2

At the end of day 1, the participants spent fascinating two hours at the Marimekko headquarters in Helsinki. Guided by the head of PR, Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko, and the creative director Minna Kemell-Kutvonen, the participants had the chance to see both the products as well as the actual textile printing process. The participants were particularly interested to learn about Marimekko’s design policies regarding, for example, questions such as who the products are designed for and what contemporary Marimekko designers think about movement of fashion both nationally and internationally.

  • Research and Design Communities in Finland

As a result of organisation of Workshop 2, Helsinki, Paula Hohti has been able to create a new interdisciplinary community of academics, museum curators and fashion and design professionals in Finland. Links with other researchers in the textile field, as well as with some fashion designers and students from several institutions have been established.

  • Student Seminar Course on Early Modern Dress and Fashion, Art History Department, University of Helsinki

The course that is planned to start in March 2012 will be run by Paula Hohti.

 

 

Publications (project years 1-3)

As part of IP-04′s objectives, Principal Investigator 04 is preparing a monograph which will address early issues of material culture, dress and fashion. In addition to the book, PI 04 will contribute to the collective volume with an essay.

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