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The 17th century is a period of intense formation of absolutist national states in Europe, a period of violent confrontation between feudal and capitalist relations, a period of feudal-catholic reaction that occurred after the suppression of the peasant movements of the 16th century and in response to the Reformation absolutist oppression and predation of the era of primitive accumulation of capital.
The artistic culture of the XVII century, reflecting the complexity of the era, becomes more difficult in content and artistic forms. The holistic poetic perception of the world, characteristic of the Renaissance, is destroyed, the ideal of harmony and clarity becomes unattainable. But the image of the person is still the focus of the artist. The Titans, sung in the works of Renaissance art, gave way to a man who was conscious of his dependence on the social environment and the objective laws of being. His incarnation becomes more specific and psychologically complex, with a rich inner world, with a certain place in society and national identity.
In the 17th century, the aesthetics of Baroque corresponded perfectly to the aspirations of the aristocracy towards statehood, theatricality. It is not by chance that nature is represented in the parks in such a theatrical manner – here we meet the theater in the setting of nature itself, in which alleys and bushes serve as backstage.
At this time, they use ancient allegory in lush ballets to glorify any secular person who has not even left a mark on history, and compare it with all the gods and heroes of antiquity.
At this time, cover documents with titles and ranks, stamps and seals, for which there is no real value. At the same time, a solemn appeal and a long signature with an expression of humility appear; title and rank conceit is immense. Books are also being written on ceremonial science. All feelings are translated into the language of appearance. It is considered good form to send wedding and mourning odes to even the closest relatives.
It comes to absurdity: the confectioner must make cakes with allegorical figures. A huge army of artisans, and sometimes artists, are busy decorating the life of the aristocracy, all their dexterity and knowledge is aimed at creating toy curiosities in the form of fireworks, all kinds of entertainment attractions.
It is not by chance that the ceremonial portrait with its deliberate pose, theatricality of the gesture, lush and decorative attributes receive such a spread at this time. A whole gallery of portraits of aristocrats, created by the greatest artists of this time, gives a vivid idea of the aesthetic ideal of the beauty of a man of that era, who is undergoing significant changes.
Man no longer appears as the center of the universe, as it was in the Renaissance. With the end of the Thirty Years War, the warrior man gradually turns into a secular court. Obligatory training of a nobleman in dances, music gives his appearance plasticity and elegance.
The masculinity of the seventeenth century is both the grandeur of posture and the gallant treatment of ladies. The ideal of feminine beauty is majesty, pomp, charm. The female figure is characterized by tall stature, a swan neck, sloping and reclined shoulders, a narrow waist, lush hips. Wavy long hair complements the representative and decorative female appearance.
The costume, obeying the dictates of aesthetic ideas, changes shape. In contrast to the natural form with harmonious proportions of the Renaissance, in the Baroque era, it begins to dominate the figure, lose almost all signs of freedom and fantasy, and at the end of the XVII century, as if frozen in favor of fashion, prescribed by court etiquette, equally luxurious and tough.
If in the XV century the decisive influence on clothing in most countries was mainly made by the Burgundian courtyard, and in the XVI and early XVII centuries. – Spanish, then by the middle of the XVII century, this role goes to the French court. Becoming one of the powerful powers of Europe, France in the XVII century is a hegemon in the field of fashion. The European costume changes throughout the entire century in accordance with the character of the historical stages into which the history of France of the seventeenth century is divided.
After a motley, fantastic, devoid of any uniformity of the picture that the constantly changing fashion of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) was in all European countries, clothes gradually begin to obey certain laws – now new: they are dictated to their country and neighbors the French royal court at Versailles, and everyone willingly, even too willingly, obey this “Versailles dictatorship”.
The king himself – the "Sun King" – was able to play his role as the ruler of the civilized world with such dignity and tact that his own tastes and tastes of his court in matters of art, literary language and fashion were universally accepted as a model.
As in architecture and art, the elements of baroque and classicism, despite their contradictory nature, are organically combined in a costume of the 17th century.
Louis XIV himself first dressed very modestly. Even edicts against luxury, ribbons and laces were published. This was mainly due to Mazarin. At the age of 18, Louis wore a smooth velvet camisole, on which there was no embroidery or ribbons. But neither the edicts, renewable and confirmed, nor the example of the king had any influence on the mods. They borrowed the form of a royal costume, and they trimmed it still unusually rich.
True, the very form of the costume, in the first half of the 17th century, under the influence of classicism, lost its rigidity and stiffness of the Spanish version, which was given to it by numerous tacks and lining for men. Packing of short pants was disused, they were given the opportunity to freely fall to the knees. After 1620, the pants widen even more and hang over the knees. Instead of long boots with high tops appear softer, often reaching the middle of the calf.
All elements of women’s clothing become around 1640 lighter and more fluid. The skirt of a woman’s dress is no longer supported by a thick lining on the hips or crinoline, but falls free folds from waist to floor. A moderately wide bodice and a moderately wide skirt of a dress falling in light folds give the woman a natural look.
Around 1650, following the example of Louis XIV, everyone began to wear a cropped camisole, ending at the waist, with short sleeves that could not reach the elbow, from which a shirt was visible; a shirt was also protruding from under her diverging jacket. Over the top they usually put on a long or short raincoat that only leveled over the left shoulder.
After 1664, the twenty-six year old king begins to deceive himself; Mazarin died, the edicts are forgotten, and the French are not only allowed to open factories again, but even hundreds of lace makers from Flanders and Venice are sent to Paris.
Male costume is becoming more feminine; short pants widened around the knees so much that they looked like women’s skirts. The fashion for such pants lasted until 1680, and they were shortened more and more until they disappeared along with the short camisole.
By 1680, clothes become pompous, corresponding to the general desire to look externally dignified, that is, majestically and magnificently. All clothes are made on a cotton pad, the sleeves and Shoss are swelling up, and a hard-wearing corset and a helicopter appear in women’s clothes, which are later replaced by more complex adaptations — pannier, tournaments, figurines, crinoline. The figure is hidden in volumes of greatly exaggerated forms. The composition of clothes is complex and multi-layered. On the top dress, make cuts, collars, cuffs appear. The costume itself is made up of a variety of shells with a large number of ornaments (puffs, assemblies, embroideries, pleated pleats) built in and out of each other.
At that time, the three most important components that make up men’s clothing today were the men’s suit: a camisole, a justokor (half-caftan) and pants. The zhystokor and short camisole were two tailored clothes without a belt, they were fastened and put one on another. They were sewn from expensive and durable cloth.
The costume, which had been formed by 1680 and was preserved until 1710, looked like this: over a long, almost knee-high camisole with gold or silver brocade sleeves, a wide, decorated with jewels or rich embroidery buttons, with wide cuffs and large snap pockets . Pretty narrow knee-length pants (culottes) were fixed above the knees and held stockings, mostly colored – red or light blue. Tight half boots were high, most often red heels. His neck was loosely covered with a long scarf that looked like a kerchief, the ends of which, trimmed with lace, adjoined to the chest.
The main feature of this fashion is a large curled wig, golden or reddish, combed in the middle part of the crown: its two wings surrounded the face with beautifully lying rows of curls. The fashion for a wig began to enter as early as the Thirty Years’ War due to fashionable long curls: anyone who did not have a lush head of hair, tried to compensate for this lack of a wig. By 1700, the wig reaches its greatest size. A man’s head looks like a lion’s head, framed by a mane. With such an abundance of hair on the head from the face, they completely disappear.
They wore a brimmed hat on the wig. At the end of the reign of Louis XIV, the fields were bent from three sides. Thus, a well-known form of a hat, a three-cornered hat, was created.
The ceremonial dresses of women, whose main forms were formed by 1680, looked extremely impressive: over a relatively narrow bell-shaped skirt (rob), decorated with heavy embroidery, braids, ruffles and laces from the bottom to the knees, they wore a top dress of a different color (mantle) with a train tightly gathered on the back. A corsage with a very hard bodice was attached to the skirt. With the favorite of the king, Mrs. de Montespan, the neckline was very deep, and Mrs. de Maintenon, the favorite at the end of the reign of Louis XIV, took the low neckline out of fashion, which again became fashionable under Louis XV.
During the Fronda hairstyle had the appearance of a cone, slightly tilted back and entwined with ribbon. The favorite of the king, Madame de Fontange, christened with her name a very high and complex hairstyle, for which hair was gathered from the forehead and an entire structure was erected from them. The combination of high hair and a hard cap with several rows of laces or linen ruffles gathered in folds — such a complex structure, which reached a considerable size due to the wire frame, crowned the whole figure. The face was decorated with small black stickers – flies. Dresses were sewn from heavy and expensive materials, rich and dark tones: purple, cherry, dark blue.
All the ladies of that time took over the fashion from the king’s mistresses, whom he had many. But three of them, enjoying the longest of his attention, had the greatest influence on the fashion of this era. Therefore, the history of women’s costume in the reign of Louis XIV can be divided into the period of Madame de Montespan, the period of Mademoiselle de Fontanges, and the period of favor of Madame de Maintenon. With the first one, the costume is notable for its splendor, with the second, with a kind of flirtatiousness, with the third, with rigor.