Francis Classe
(Master Vyncent ate Wodegate)


San Jose, California, USA
(Shire of Crosston, Kingdom of the West)

 

A Florentine Outfit in the Style
 of  the 1560s

(Highlighted/bordered images are click-able for enlarging)


Francis Says....

 

I’ve been sewing since I was about eight years old, provided you count those very coarse running stitches that I used to stitch my little appliquéd bunny back onto my blanket as a child. As far as actual garments go, I’ve been sewing for about ten years, but I’ve only really considered myself serious for the past seven. I feel that a threshold exists that one must cross in order to progress away from the creation of a mere costume and towards the creation of actual clothing; such a transition is one that involves (amongst other things) research-based patterning, as close to primary source documentation as possible, and ardent attention to the little touches (head covering, points, shoes, hand finishing, and the like).

I’m currently involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) in the Shire of Crosston, Kingdom of the West. I’ve also recently become involved in the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild, and am expanding my horizons outwards to the 18th century (for now!) Recently, my focus has been on late 16th Century shoes and raised heels, specifically chopines and zoccoli, and I’ve created a website, “Chopine, Zoccolo, and Other Raised Heel Construction”  dedicated to research and construction of these types of footwear. 




Inspiration

Back in 2008, I was offered elevation into the Order of the Laurel (for those of you who are unfamiliar with the peerages of the SCA, the Laurel is bestowed upon an individual for extraordinary proficiency in arts and sciences. Obviously, I had to have a new outfit to wear, and it had to be fabulous!

I’m a huge fan of the 1560s; in fact, it’s my preferred decade at the moment. Not only is there a wealth of pictorial and written evidence available all over Europe, but the cut of men’s clothes in this decade do not exhibit the oddities of the fourth quarter of the decade (the absurd peascod belly being the most notable offender) but it also has (again, in my opinion) smoother and more polished lines than the previous two quarters. Janet Arnold in Patterns of Fashion has given us a gem in the form of her analysis of Don Garzia de Medici’s burial suit in 1562 (pp53-54), and this was the primary source for this suit. However, I knew that I wanted to experiment with slashing, so I took some inspiration from the French, specifically Charles IX. There are two particular portraits, attributed to Clouet, that were of great assistance to me, one currently in the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna, and another in the Musee Condee in Chantilly (see right). I went for a slightly earlier and less padded look for the trunk hose based on some Spanish paintings at the time (Arnold, 14).

I figure that it’s best to detail the outfit head to toe, so here we go! Note that not all elements of the suit were fashioned by me – some were done as gifts, and as such, I’ve focused only on the parts fashioned in large part by myself. 




The Suit

The Order of the Laurel takes its inspiration from the Knighthood, and I wanted a pure look for the suit to keep in line with this ideal (traditionally, as I understand from some knights more learned than I in Medieval history, knights were dressed in white for the occasion of their knighting), so I decided on a beautiful cream duchesse silk satin as the outer layer for the suit – thank goodness that Thai Silks was having a 25% off sale at the time. The panes were backed with a similarly coloured cream silk taffeta and interlined with gold silk taffeta. The doublet was also interlined with gold taffeta and lined with linen quilted with a thin layer of cotton bombast. The trunk hose outer-lining is the same gold silk taffeta and filled with polyester bombast.

The buttons are standard commercially available ones, and the gold braid is a metallic braid, found at (of all places!) Jo-Ann’s Fabric Store. Over 150 yards of braid were applied on the panes, sleeves, and doublet of the suit. That’s more than the length of a football field and a half, just for reference.




In terms of construction, as mentioned earlier, the basic pattern was taken from Arnold’s study of Don Garzia’s burial suit. However, there are several difficulties in translating another’s outfit to you own body – the most critical being where the waist should end up. It should really end up at the wearer’s true waist, and one should avoid the temptation of drawing it down to the modern waist. There are also several really lovely touches that seem small, but really make a difference – for example, the pinked silk taffeta backing on the cuffs, collar, and doublet opening, the pieced in pieces on the back center panes, and the pockets. Additionally, sufficient collar stiffening is absolutely critical in order to get a nice vertical collar – an unstiffened collar can buckle too easily, as can be observed in some of the photographs.

Points

The points are finger-loop braids of dark and light gold silk. They are tipped by brass, rolled out of 0.01” thick brass around a conical dowel and crimped to the braid. In period, they might have been riveted or sewn in.

 




Hose

The hose are of a fine knit wool which I was fortunate to find at Stone Mountain Daughter. They’re pointed to the trunk hose by means of an eyeleting strip on both hosen, something Arnold observes in her observations of some later garments (pp90-92). They’re sewn with the pattern exhibiting the characteristic “A” at the side of the ankle that is easily observed in many portraits of the time and documented in Textiles and Clothing: 1150-1450 by Crowfoot, Pritchard and Staniland (189).

Shoes

The shoes are of vegetable tanned cattle, and are of welted construction with the welt laying flat out instead of being tucked under the insole. The shoes are lined with gold taffeta and pickadils and slashes are incorporated into the design, as with many shoes in the third quarter of the 16th century. The construction is consistent with other shoes of this time, based on several 16th century pieces seen in Olaf Goubitz’ Stepping Through Time. Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlocked (Arnold) describes shoes that are lined in both the sole (usually scarlett, a red woollen cloth) and the upper (taffeta, Spanish leather, velvet). 




 


Acknowledgments

This outfit would not have been possible without the assistance and various members of the Society:
Maestra Francesca von Hesse for construction of the hat.
Lady Renee of Crosston for the construction of the fingerloop braids.
Lady Johanna Ludwiger von Hertesbergk who assembled the hosen.
Master Geoffrey Mathias, for helping with the final stages of stitching the insole and outsole to the upper of the shoes.
Master Moshe Avenicmel, Mistress Angharad St. George, Mistress Elizabeth of Dendermonde, Maestra Vittoria Aureli, Lady Agnes de Sainte-Claire, and several other members of the Society who helped with eyelets, couching, and various other elements of handsewing.







 

  You can contact Francis via his website.

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© 2001 - 2010 Anabella Wake (Known in the SCA as Bella Lucia da Verona) I hold copyright on all information on these pages, and on all images of clothing/costume that I have made. You are allowed to make one facsimile copy for your own use provided that this notice is included on each page. Please ask permission to copy, disseminate and/or distribute my work - I would like to know when and how you are finding this information of use.