This exhibition will explore the evolution of fashionable clothing in Northern Europe— from the fashion revolution of the early fourteenth century to the dawn of the Renaissance in 1515. Drawn from the Morgan's collections, approximately sixty illuminated medieval and Renaissance manuscripts and early printed books illustrated with wood- and metal-cuts are featured.
The 190 years just prior to the Renaissance in Northern Europe constitute a fertile era for fashion, a period in which clothing styles changed relatively rapidly, often from one decade to the next. The exhibition examines the role of social customs, cultural influences, and politics—such as the Hundred Years War, the occupation of Paris by the English, and the arrival of the Italian Renaissance in Northern Europe—in influencing fashion.
The exhibition also demonstrates the richness of symbolism in medieval art and how artists used clothing and costume as codes to help viewers interpret an image. In these works of art, what people wear is a clue to their identities and moral characters.
To dramatize these fashions, four mannequins dressed in clothing replicated from selected images in the exhibition will be on view. The garments are made using hand-sewing techniques used during the medieval and Renaissance period and authentic materials— including silk velvet, gold brocade, linen, straw, and ermine.
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