Sunday, 24 February 2013

German Fashion

When Anne of Cleves arrived at the English court, her clothes made an unfortunate impression on the English courtiers. Anne, being German, naturally wore the German fashion but this was far from popular with the English ladies. Let's take a look at what the German fashion actually looked like:

German dresses varied quite a lot from other European fashions of the time. The skirt was cut separately from the bodice; these would often be sewn together. The gown was open-cut and the kirtle underneath it was elaborately done - the kirtles would be embroidered, covered in lush fabrics or jewelled across the bust.  The partlet (low-cut bodice trimmed with lace) was still low-cut but was made in such a style that it covered the neck and shoulders. The most popular partlet-style was round and went round the shoulders - it would often be made of fur or silk - and had a standing neck-band.

The sleeves were (unlike the English trumpet-sleeves) narrow and fitted. Later these sleeves would be decorated with for example contrasting fabrics. The very skirts were also trimmed with contrasting fabric - however, the gown would be completely closed. It was normal to drape up the skirt in order to show the underskirt.

The famous portrait of Anne of Cleves. She is wearing a high-waist gown in red velvet and the sleeves are panelled with broad panels on the "puffs" of the sleeves. The hood she is wearing has a sheer veil on the back. This was not the popular style in the English court and it was thought to be strange and unflattering. 

This portrait is also of Anne of Cleves and is dated from around 1540. Her sleeves are closed and fitted (typical of the German style) and the front is laced with embroidered red-gold bands. The contrasting colour is found in the black - you can see her chemise sticking out from her sleeves. Her hood has a short and sheer veil and the hood itself is also embroidered.

The German fashion is clearly shown in this portrait from 1538-39. The gown is high-waisted and the sleeves are wide but fitted to the wrist. The golden bands on the bodice are contrasting to the other-wise completely black gown. The headdress is made of a decorated cap and a short sheer veil.

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