‘Refashioning the Renaissance’, researching and experimenting fashion techniques from the 16th century
From January 2018, Refashioning the Renaissance: Popular Groups and the Material and Cultural Significance of Clothing in Europe 1550–1650, has been working with a group of postdoctoral researchers in Aalto University. On 2016, the group was awarded with a grant of 2 million euros by the European Research Council to develop the five-year project. Principal investigator, Professor Paula Hohti, fashion and material culture historian at Aalto University, tells us more about the on-going project.
“We are looking at what happened at the lower social levels and how these ordinary Europeans connected with or understood fashion. What is new and dynamic about our project is not just the focus on the lower classes, but also our method. We combine traditional historical research with experimentation on objects, materials and techniques, done with our very own hands.”
In addition to archives, documents and books research, the researchers also experiment with historical techniques and materials. Furthermore, the group has spent time in the lab carrying out scientific tests on DNA and fibre analysis to surviving materials from the investigated years. In addition, they introduce 3D modelling and 3D printing as tools for the historical research project,
“The aim of this exciting experimental component is to allow us to test, and develop ideas about how new technologies and sciences can be used and developed as methods in cultural and historical studies of dress,“ Hohti comments.
We combine traditional historical research with experimentation on objects, materials and techniques, done with our very own hands."
On their first year (2018) they have been working with different archives and specialists, such as the state archives of Siena, Florence, Venice (carried out by our research fellow Dr Stefania Montemezzo), Copenhagen (PhD Student Anne-Kristine Sindvald Larsen) and lately in the Wellcome Collection in London (Dr Michele Robinson), looking at artisan inventories and printed sources and recipe books, and what they tell about dress. This forthcoming year, 2019, they plan to focus on hand-on experimentation with colour, textile imitations and historical and digital reconstruction of Renaissance garments (led by Dr Sophie Pitman). This includes collaborations and workshops with other professionals, academics and other experts specialized in historical textiles and fashion, such as The School of Historical dress, conservators from Rijksmuseum, and members of the Netherlands-based ERC Artechne project.
During past weeks, Refashioning the Renaissance group has been showcasing their project in Aalto University at Väre FE lobby. Piia Lempiäinen, project administrator and curator of the exhibition tells us: “The exhibition is a recreation of a tailor’s workshop, modelled after early modern images, such as a fresco of drapers in Castello di Issogne, Italy. Different tools and materials used by early modern tailors are laid on the two tables, and finished garments are hanging on a rack.”
In addition to the on-going project, the group is looking experienced volunteers to join the group on Citizen science project on early modern knitted sock, a project organised in Helsinki and Espoo. The aim of the project is to reconstruct early modern Scandinavian socks based on surviving examples, and collect information and analyse the making processes.
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