Thursday November 26, 2015

Selfies in the 16th century

Listen 7:44
Cover - the first book of fashion

Cover to The First Book of Fashion, edited by Ulinka Rublack, Maria Hayward, Jenny Tiramani and available as a Google ebook. (Bloomsbury Academic)

What does Kim Kardashian have in common with a 16th century accountant named Matthäus Schwarz? Apparently, a love of selfies.

A new ebook titled The First Book of Fashion: The Book of Clothes of Matthaeus and Veit Konrad Schwarz of Augsburg, collects hundreds of portraits Schwarz commissioned of himself and his son. He chose the painters, outfits, postures and background for the paintings, carefully crafting his #PersonalBrand hundreds of years before Instagram and geo-tagging.

According to the book's excerpt from Bloomsbury:

Providing a revealing window onto the Renaissance, they chronicle how style-conscious accountant Matthäus Schwarz and his son Veit Konrad experienced life through clothes, and climbed the social ladder through fastidious management of self-image.

These bourgeois dandies' agenda resonates as powerfully today as it did in the sixteenth century: one has to dress to impress, and dress to impress they did.

q's art correspondent RM Vaughan discusses the book and its strikingly modern treatment of fashion and clothes as identity.