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Slashed garments

Dress in the years from 1520-40 in Europe was strongly influenced by the strange fashion for slashed decoration. The idea came from the costume of the Swiss and Bavarian mercenary, the lansquenet or landsknecht. Several different explanations exist, putting forward reasons for the origins of this type of ornamentation. one tells of how, after the battle of 1477, when the Swiss mercenaries had defeated the Burgundians, they mended their tattered uniforms with strips of banners and hang- ings from the tents of the vanquished enemy, producing a multi-coloured attire, slashed and showing different materials through the slits. Another states that the clothes of the lansquenets were too tight and that they slashed them to make themselves more comfortable, thus displaying the undertunic or shirt beneath. Whatever the reason for the beginning of this custom, by 1520 the fashion had spread over Europe. All garments for men and women received this treatment from tunics, hose and gowns to hats, boots and shoes. The garment beneath was pulled through the slits to form a puff of a different coloured material. The edges of the slash were embroidered or braided and the ends held by points or a jewelled clasp. The slashes were made in the most complex patterns, especially on the doublet bodice.

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2006 March 28