JOR Those shoulder ruffs remind me of a moment in Dutch fashion in the early 1600s when sleeves became really structured and rose from the shoulders like huge disks. We sold a Paulus Moreelse portrait in 2010, dating to 1602, which beautifully illustrates this. The sleeves of the sitter’s bodice are quite soft and voluminous, but then there are these stiff disks at the shoulder of the black mantle that she wears over it. It’s a really nice textural contrast.
So much of women’s clothing was about obliterating her natural form — flattening busts and hiding legs beneath conical skirts — and dictating how she moved and interacted with people. You can’t run in a bodice, bum rolls and farthingale.
What really interests me is that you obliterate natural forms too, but instead of debilitating the wearer you empower them.
GP It is interesting that you mention it being powerful. The triangle is the strongest shape that exists. If you create a shape that goes down into a waist and then opens to a bigger triangle on the bottom, it becomes almost a chalice shape. It’s a very feminine form but it is a very, as you say, commanding.
JOR It really is. That chalice shape really struck me in your Toreador look from The Reconstruction in 2020. When I look at full-length royal marriage portraits from the 16th and 17th centuries, that power dynamic is really apparent.
You have the women, who look super solid, structured, armoured, in poses that just say, ‘pow!’ And then you have the men, posing like ballerinas with their spindly, stockinged legs in puffy trunk hose, probably a massive cod piece as well...