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In Filoforme - Abstract ENG

FILO FORME anno 4 n. 10

 

Presentation
Isabella Campagnol Fabretti

Livery or Uniform?
These two apparently contrasting terms are used to indicate a type of clothing having ancient origins. ‘Livery’, the crests or arms of the nobility, were in fact garments furnished by medieval and Renaissance lords to their most faithful men. In the modern sense of the word, the concept of ‘uniform’ was born during the second half of the seventeenth century and consisted in various identical garments and accessories worn by military personnel, furnished by the ’employer’ – that is, the commander of the military corps – indispensable for distinguishing friend from foe on the battlefield. In Italy the first corps to adopt an official uniform was in 1664 for the Monferrato Regiment of the King of Piemonte. It was, however, in the 1700s that uniforms per se were codified and regulated, with ranks and accessories indicating the status and the role of the individual military personnel. The contributions in this issue of Filoforme offer some interesting insights on this theme, almost a ‘niche’ branch of clothing and costume history. The analysis made by Stefano Franzo describes the passionate attention given to this topic by nineteenth-century men’s fashion magazines wherein the reader was given meticulous instructions on making various types of uniforms, with patterns and sketches to illustrate the descriptions. Not only the military wore uniforms; during the 1800s civil servants also dressed in uniform. Elisa Masiero illustrates how this type of uniform, dating from Imperial Rome, evolved into the garments worn by the orders of knights, and eventually into the clothing worn by governmental officers of the European states during the nineteenth century. Special attention is given to this phenomenon in the Lombardo-Veneto kingdom, and the vast panorama of uniforms is explained and illustrated by the details relating to the clothing for governmental officers and employers of the kingdom, worthy of the ‘bourgeois’ passion for this type of dress. In an almost exclusive male world of uniforms, the exception is found in the uniform worn by the Volunteer Nurse Corps of the Italian Red Cross. From the birth of the Corpo Infermiere Volontarie C.R.I. there was a need for sanctioning the professionality and the role of these nurses, and an abandonment of the frivolous world of feminine fashion for an almost religiously severe uniform that distinguished them from the military sector they served and protected thanks to the neutrality of the Red Cross symbol.

 

Civil Uniforms in the Lombardo-Veneto Kingdom
Elisa Masiero (page 3)

Military uniforms have exerted notable influence on fashion in the civil service ranging from details in the fabric to the accessories that were used. The military uniform also functioned as an example for uniforms in the municipal corps, sports and patriotic associations, especially with regard to the directives of aesthetics and decorum, as well as in avoiding analogies with the clothing used for the State Armed Forces. In the Kingdom of Lombardo-Veneto the legislation related to civil uniforms is contained in the Normale per l’Uniforme accordo agli Impiegati dello Stato (Norms for the Uniforms for State Employees) published in Milan and Venice in 1815. The decree lays out the cut and characteristics of the uniforms and is accompanied by sketches and often by full-size patterns. Among the motifs used in the Lombardo-Veneto area were intertwined branches with ribbons, grape leaves, grape clusters and meandering ears of wheat taken from the uniforms of the Hapsburg Empire. These motifs correspond to the virtues each public officer should practice in carrying out his duties. The profession of designer of uniforms for production in series (precedent to fashion designers) is defined, and specialised firms for uniform production are established. Often well-known painters and designers such as Quinto Cenni and Mosé Bianchi were asked to collaborate on uniform design.

The ‘Tailors’ Magazines’ and the Uniforms for the National Guard and Volunteers
Stefano Franzo (page 7)

During a specific historical and political period that was also highly specialised and devoted to innovations in French fashion, the Giornale dei Sarti (Tailors’ Magazine) also dealt with fashion for the uniform. In addition to supplying the necessary sketches and patterns, the magazine supplied information to a broad, provincial public. The members were able to access the requirements given by the official regulations and obtain information on the patterns, colours and materials necessary for the cut and construction of the uniforms. These data also take into account a specific demand made by the tailors, who following precise and unavoidable norms and with a high degree of professional skill, had to know how to make the uniforms requested by the ‘militiaman’. All this is in a context that leaves room for the expanding debate on the pre-eminence of French over Italian tailoring.

Sisters. The Historic Uniforms of the Red Cross Volunteer Nurses
Isabella Campagnol Fabretti (page 10)

In a world in which the ‘uniform’ was thought of only in the masculine, the Volunteer Nurses of the Italian Red Cross made possible a role that even though long-standing and indispensable, was given a precise definition only at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Initially, some concession to the whimsy in hairstyles and dress remained, but was soon replaced by a precise regulation and made functional to the activities that were carried out.