Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Matthäus Schwarz: The original fashion blogger

In the 16th century, a fashion-obsessed German documented his changing styles in a series of hand-drawn portraits which he gathered together in a "book of clothes." The Klaidungsbüchlein is a fascinating manuscript by Matthäus Schwarz, a successful merchant in Augsburg who worked as an accountant for the powerful Fugger family.

The book gives an extraordinary insight into the colorful, joyous Renaissance fashion, but what makes it exceptional is that it depicts Schwarz and his outfit in every stage of his life, from the clothes he wore as a new-born infant to the dark robes he donned as a gray-bearded old man. From 1520 until 1560 he chronicled his look commissioning paintings by local artists. Alongside the images Schwarz provides a small commentary of his attire, and his own figure, through a period of time.

The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum in Braunschweig got hold of the original manuscript, but it's rarely displayed because the pages are so fragile. Luckily their annotated English translation, The First Book of Fashion, has been released in both hardback and digital format, making the centuries-old "selfies" more accessible.

[h/t: The Atlantic]

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