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All that glitters… in Berlin

16 September 2017

The third Dressing the Early Modern Network conference, “All That Glitters…”: Visual Representations of Dress in the Early Modern and the Boundaries of Reliability was organised in Berlin on 14-15 September 2017. Refashioning Renaissance team, strengthened with our fresh doctoral candidate Anne-Kristine Sindvald Larsen, took part of the conference, which was held at Kunstgewerbemuseum. The conference catered a wide range of interesting papers that gave an opportunity to learn and reflect.

Kunstgewerbemuseum and the adjunct Lipperheidesche Kostümbibliothek offered an ideal setting for the conference. The Kunstgewerbemuseum houses an extensive collection of tapestries and a dress collection from 18th century to present day, and it was a pleasure to get to know the collection on the intermissions of the conference. Lipperheidesche Kostümbibliothek consists of a wonderful collection of original source documents and secondary literature on clothing and fashion by Franz and Frieda Lipperheide.

Paula Hohti introducing Jane Malcolm-Davies.

The papers presented during the conference examined different aspects of visual representations of dress and brought forward intriguing questions and new approaches. Themes varied from the interpretation and reliability of visual images as source to case studies of specific garments, as well as depictions of the others. Our Principal Investigator, Professor Paula Hohti had a pleasure to chair a session that examined interestingly the different aspects of visual representations and how they can be challenged by new research that cross-references different sources. Dr. Jane-Malcolm Davies, who is going to be working in the Refashioning the Renaissance project as a Post-Doctoral Researcher, presented some of her research on knitted caps, and the felting process that was used on wool to mimic velvet. More information on Jane’s Knitting in Early Modern Europe can be found here.

Some examples of fulled caps presented by Jane-Malcolm Davies.

Our growing team, who now met for the first time, thoroughly enjoyed the stimulating discussions, the chances to connect with other scholars, and the sunny Berlin.

Archival Research launched in Italy

State Archive of Siena

The State archive of Siena is located in the Palazzo Piccolomini, by the beautiful central square, the Piazza del Campo. It contains thousands of files that document the economic, political, social and artistic life of the city. Among them are treasured examples, such as the last will and testament of Boccaccio and the breath-taking painted medieval Biccherna tablets, which are on display at the archive’s museum (Museo delle Biccherne). I have been working in this archive for years, but this time I returned with a new goal, to carry out systematic research in dress, clothing and fashion across household inventories in 1550-1650. Together with our new research assistant, Stefania Montemezzo, we are on a mission to find out how ordinary Italians’ fashion changed in this period, and what were the key agents of fashion change at the lower social levels in Siena, Florence and Venice!

Records at the State Archive of Siena.

I also visited some sites that were connected with Renaissance artisans, such as the narrow street, Vicolo del Bargello, that leads out of the Piazza del Campo. This is where one of my Renaissance shoemakers, Giovanni di Domenico, held his shoeshop in 1550s. 

Vicolo del Bargello.

Photos: Paula Hohti

ERC Funded Project Refashioning the Renaissance Launches

5 April 2017

Plaque at the European Research Council Office in Brussels.

European Research Council has awarded professor Paula Hohti a 2 million euro ERC Consolidator Grant for her project Refashioning the Renaissance: Popular Groups, Fashion and the Material and Cultural Significance of Clothing in Europe 1550-1650. The project runs from April 2017 to March 2022, and will investigate the meaning and spread of western fashion in 17th century Europe.

‘We will develop hand-on methods in which we will work in many different ways with the textile samples’. Using manuals preserved from the 16th century, we have access to the textile manufacturing recipes of that time and we can reconstruct them now and see, for example, what the weaving of the fabric meant in practice,’ explains Professor Hohti.

Read more about the project from our About and Media pages.