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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Waistlines:Inspired by the Classics - Time Travel to the Italian Renaissance

The Combat of Love and Chastity
If I'd been an all around, well educated, know-it all Renaissance women, an uomo universale  (the modern term is a polymath), I bet I'd have been dreaming in Greek - in my Greek-inspired, just-below-the-bustline waistlines that is!

The Renaissance , or rebirth, was about fifteenth and sixteenth century Italians dreaming about being reborn - as imaginary Greeks. Men and women of this era (at least those who could afford the luxury of being well educated) prided themselves on their breadth of knowledge in the arts and sciences - music, conversation, mathematics, machines, equipment, painting, architecture, books, languages, and what else..... or yeah, the art of warfare.

I'm pretty sure that if I travelled back through time to sometime in the sixteenth century, I'd have been particularly caught up in the excitement over the creation of new technology. And it seems to me that the creation of a telescope would have provided me with much of the same pleasure as my modern times enthusiasm for software development.

But I wouldn't have been crouching over my design table all day long. After all  I would have been an uomo universale, 
a woman capable of engaging in and demonstrating many accomplishments.

Whilst singing and playing my viola or lute (always with a fine air of
Woman Playing the Viola, Solario
sprezzatura),  bandying over the significance of the positions of the constellations with a fellow courtier ("But look at Mars through my new telescope Andrea!"), and planning the next poetic verse in my current composition, I'm pretty sure  I'd also have been hard at work on another mental composition, a gown inspired, of course, by 
my supposed Grecian roots*. I might have already been wearing something that took me back to those times past,   something with a twisted shoulder element perhaps, like the one in Solario's painting of a musician.
Chaste Women in a Landscape

While I was fiddling, singing and discoursing among my fellows,  I would have been contemplating the creation of a dress with a substantial dose of color. My classical interests would go for something with simple, fluid lines. No fussy necklines or over embellishment for my gown. It would speak for itself in the way it flowed from a high waistline set just below the bust, creating long lines of naturally occurring seamless folds over the body,  in hues of russet or red. In cooler weather I might pair it with a cloak of deep forest green.

Whether it was dress design or a new ability to view the heavens, I'd have been stretching my interests just as far afield back in the sixteenth century, as I do today. 

You know, it's time travel like this that keeps me...
Enchanted by Sewing!

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"Prince of Foxes", set in the Italian Renaissance, is one of my all time favorite movies. It's based on a classic Samuel Shellabarger novel of the same name.  The movie is adventurous and romantic. The costumes are historically accurate and gorgeous.

* Of course women's position in Greek society didn't tend towards the well educated. These gals tended to be more like domestic appurtenances with no equal standing alongside the boys. A well-educated, monied Renaissance women could hope for a lot more when it came to society, education and an attitude of respect from her menfolk.

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Uomo Universale/The Polymath


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