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Fashion at the Court of Francis I

In the 16th century, the Loire Valley was truly the heart of France's political and artistic power. Crowned King in 1515, the young Francis I wanted to assert his power in the eyes of all and become the most enlightened monarch of his time. At Chambord, Blois and Amboise, he built sumptuous castles for himself and his successors, in which an aesthetic and social movement was to develop that would change everything in its path.

Dressing in "Renaissance" fashion

Under Francis I, the costume is refined, luxurious. For the first time, its aim is to enhance and amplify the beauty of the wearer. Embroidery, rich fabrics and jewellery make their appearance thanks to the development of foreign trade and the enrichment of the nobles who can now afford a little more extravagance.

The linen shirt became an essential part of the wardrobe; a symbol of wealth, the goal is to own the most beautiful and white shirt possible. As a decorative element, lace dresses collar and cuffs; over time, it becomes wider and wider and the sleeves become extremely puffy.

It was also at this time that an emblematic feminine accessory was born: the corset. Undergarment, this object worn by the women of the aristocracy until the 19th century, despite the suffering endured by those who wore it, was designed to draw and tighten the bust to give the impression of an extremely thin waist and sublimate the neckline. On the contrary, the satin, silk or velvet skirt, is worn over a wide hoop called vertugadin and gives fullness to the silhouette.

The importance of physical appearance

From 1515, the beard is in fashion and becomes a true sign of social distinction. At the same time, men's hair was shortened and styled with a headgear with raised edges, while women wore a headdress that wrapped the entire head. A few years later, an embroidered, high collar covering the chest and neck made its appearance in Renaissance costume; it became a real must-have under the name "strawberry".

Influenced by the richness and fantasy of Italian costume, the French of the 16th century chose their clothes according to the fashion of the time. Accessories, cloths and fabrics are there to bear witness to the power of the wearer and to give an account of his position in society. If fashion is not as powerful an industry as the one we know today, it already holds a preponderant place in international exchanges and in the vision that contemporaries have of their society.

To go further, it's here. And to know everything about the history of fashion in France, it's here 

Bérengère for Comme des Français


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