Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Florentine Astoni

Astoni-embroidered bands of fabric in 16th century Florentine fashion
During the first half of 16th century Florence, fashion dictated that use of multi-colored garments was thought to be “unattractive,” and absurd (Landini and Niccoli, 2005, p. 28).  A more acceptable form of adding color to a garment was the use of astoni, contrasting colored bands of fabric, sewn to the garment, which were embellished most commonly with embroidery.  Astoni seemed to remain popular throughout the 16th century, and can be seen on garments ranging from the funeral dress of Eleanor of Toledo, to petticoats worn by middle-class women.
There are many portraits from the time frame that allow us a view of various astoni. 
The funeral dress of Eleanor of Toledo shows contrasting fabric bands, embroidered as embellishment:

In Janet Arnold’s book, Patterns of Fashion 3: The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560-1620 (1985), Arnold has drawn out the embroidery pattern from the funeral gown, detailing the intertwined acanthus (pg. 103):

Here is a similar extant gown, with astoni of satin, displaying couched gilded cord, also in interwoven patterns (from Moda a Firenze, Landini and Niccoli, 2005, p. 74):

This gown also emphasizes the overarching cut of gown for the time period; a pointed waistline, side back lacing, and embellishment made to make the upper body appear as an inverted cone, and the lower body as an up righted cone.  The astoni helped to establish this body shape through following lines that will emphasize the double cone effect.   This same cut and construction can be seen in various portraits of middle class women, as well as nobility.
 Among my various projects, (and copious spare time *giggles*) I plan to start a database of embroidery patterns and threads common in astoni of the period.
More to come...

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