Fashion in the Franz Mayer collection

Interest in clothing has existed since ancient civilizations. Throughout history, different cultures from all corners of the world have used clothing as an aesthetic expression, both collectively and individually. In the daily routine of human beings, the action of dressing plays a leading role.

The contrast between the everyday and the artisan is what brought fashion to the attention and patronage of a wide repertoire of nobles, merchants, manufacturers, artisans, academics and military men. Its multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary nature gave rise to a vast number of industrial and social advances. Its scope and ability to expand set in motion a series of profound changes in the way we live, work and dress.

Isabel de Medici (1545/1607) by Alessandro Allori "El Bronzino"Museo Franz Mayer

Isabel de Médici

Alessandro Allori (Florence, Italy, 1535-1607)

During the 16th century, fashion was dictated by the European courts - mainly those of Italy, France, Germany, England and Spain. 

Characteristic elements in the clothing of certain nations were evident to the population of the time. Courts sought to differentiate themselves in accordance with the style of their emulators.

Isabel Clara Eugenia (1670) by Seguidor de Alonso Sánchez CoelloMuseo Franz Mayer

Isabel Clara Eugenia

Isabel Clara Eugenia of Austria, daughter of Felipe II of Spain, was sovereign of the Netherlands, a territory she ruled from 1621 until her death in 1633. This portrait corresponds to her years as Infanta of Spain.

She wears a 'saya' with pointed sleeves -- a luxurious and elegant garment composed of two separate pieces made of the same fabric: a body and a skirt with a train -- with a splendid brocade woven with gold thread, adorned with jewels and precious stones.

On her chest she wears a brooch that belonged to her mother, Isabella de Valois, and between her fingers she displays a cameo with the portrait of Felipe II.

The lechuguillas -- huge lace "necks" -- forced women to build their hairstyles upwards, with curly hair predominating. They used to resort to hairpieces and a wire support called jaulilla. 

Isabel Clara Eugenia's hairstyle was complemented with pearls, feathers and a brooch that belonged to Anne of Austria, Queen consort of Spain and fourth wife of Felipe II.

Retrato de dama (1600/1690) by Circulo de VelázquezMuseo Franz Mayer

This work allows us to approach the customs and fashion in Spain during the reign of Felipe IV.

The lady portrayed in this work wears an inner garment characteristic of this period, the guardainfante -- a hollow support on which the skirt rests.

It is considered the successor of the verdugado, which Spanish women turned into a complicated framework with wooden, wire or iron hoops joined together with ribbons or strings and completed at the top with wicker or horsehair to emphasize the hips.

In the upper part, the torso is completely flattened by a whalebone or corset. On the outside, she wears a black brocade saya composed of a skirt and a buttoned jacket with puffed sleeves and white lace cuffs and collar.

Looking for symmetry between the head and the body, the hair was released and acquired volume. This hairstyle made of curls and ringlets decorated with bows and jewels was known as the guardainfante hairstyle.

Retrato de Matías de Médici (1630) by Justus SustermansMuseo Franz Mayer

This work presents Matías de Medici, son of Cosme II and Maria Magdalena of Austria.

He wears an elegant armor of blued steel with golden rivets, a wide-brimmed hat tipped with a red feather, a lace collar, leather gloves and a military sash embroidered with metallic threads.

As the 17th century progressed, the use of armor declined. Efficiency in firearms was on the rise, leading to lighter military uniforms and synthesizing armor into a simple cuirass.

Damas con sirvientas (1657/1700) by Lancelot VoldersMuseo Franz Mayer

During the second half of the seventeenth century, women's clothing went from a rigid structure to a looser one, with more natural, sober and elegant basic silhouettes.

In this work we observe five women, two of them wearing satin dresses and, while one is holding a puppy in her arms, the other is grooming herself in front of her dressing table mirror.

The other two women, dressed in sober colors, are the maids who assist the young women in their personal grooming. The third is lost between the curtains of the bed.

The two young women in satin dresses wear fitted bodices, puffed sleeves in two parts marked by bows and loose-fitting tail skirts.

Both wear a hairstyle with elaborate curls that frame their faces and hang on the shoulder. The maiden holding the necklace wears a white, drop-shouldered collar and covers her hair with a coif (cap) and a black cloak.

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