The Napoleonic period narrated through original clothes and accessories: not just fashion but cross-sections of every day life, a window onto the social transformations generated by industrial and commercial development, a consequence of the new political order in Europe and the colonies, transformations that have left a deep mark on the world that is still visible today.Continua a leggere
In Cristina Barreto and Martin Lancaster’s book, the birth of modern fashion is presented from the unusual point of view of what was happening backstage; the world which produced the various clothes that marked the different moments of the day, the passing of the seasons and the lives of the people who were born, married, had children and died.
It begins with the Directory, a period of sensuality and extravagance; the outfits of the Bourbon Restoration, on the other hand, were sober and respectable, almost approaching Victorian prudishness. The radical transformation in male fashion, which became gradually more virile and democratic, laid great emphasis on the good tailoring of the clothes, while the omnipresence of the military helped to reinforce this concept.
A glance at the world of Jane Austen, who described the English gentry in her novels, in an extensive collection of prints, images and objects from the period, completes and helps to explain this journey through history, enlightening us, not without some touches of irony, on the roots of today’s fashion system. The man behind this transformation was Napoleon Bonaparte; the book is based on the period in which he was at the helm of his empire (1795–1815), and reveals through clothes a hitherto unknown side to the leader, the first great modern example of the use of fashion as an instrument of power. It was in the Napoleonic period that fashion neurosis first developed, creating mechanisms and starting rituals that are still with us today. From the powerful couturier to the choice of the dernier cri hairdresser, along a route studded with displays, those in the shop windows and those in the magazines: it was the beginning of the environment that would give rise to the first fashion victims in history.
Cristina Barreto is Brazilian and Martin Lancaster is English; they both live in Milan, Italy and share a passionate interest in the Napoleonic period. Their knowledge and expertise is known internationally and they have advised and assisted museums and collectors, film and television productions as well as authors. Taking exclusively from their private collection, Cristina and Martin have prepared more than fifty mannequins fully dressed and accessorised correctly for their very specific periods using genuine articles from the epoch. To complement these and to help to explain their place in history they have also drawn from their very large collection of prints from the epoch.