September 18, 2009

Of Kings and KUKs

The sixteenth century hoisted the banner of a brand-new era—the dominance of nation states. In 1503, Spain deposed from Naples the Aragonese monarch, who fled to Ischia for refuge and concealed himself in its castle (see photo below).

The two-century colonization by apathetic Spanish viceroys, or what I term “KUKs”—kings under kings—gestated an irreversible process of stagnation in the Bay of Naples that was reflected in the imports of obscenities, abusive language, and falsehood, the art of which continues to develop even today.

The despotic Spanish reign of apathy and indifference injected the populace with an all-absorbing dose of anguish. Their misery turned into a pressure cooker of desperation.

Patriots vented their steam in foredoomed moves towards independence, while secret guilds like the Camorra—the Neapolitan-styled Mafia—labeled out revenge. Banditry and delinquency incubated.

Although the Inquisition in Naples was blocked by the masses, their best effort could not turn the Spanish tide of corruption, bribes, taxation, and tyranny. The growth of culture was stunted by the censure of the press, which rooted out what was considered the “heretical ideas” of the Reformation.

From 1707 to 1734, the rod of command fell into the lap of the Austrian Hapsburgs, the crowned heads of the Holy Roman Empire, who furnished Hungary, Bohemia, and Spain with kings. Their domains embraced Austria, Hungary, Poland, northern Italy, Sardinia, and the Netherlands, where they diffused Catholicism and conservatism.

Their curtailed regency in Naples was so destructive, partly because of inept and greedy leadership, that the gentry reminisced for the Spanish days of yore!

Menswear during these centuries continued to develop rapidly, culminating in the coat, vest, and loose-fitting breeches. Starched collars rose high with lots of ruffles.

The square look of the previous periods was replaced by a long slender silhouette. The long white ruffled shirt was soon accompanied by the appearance of the cravat, which was tied with a bow.

2010 Trends & Takeaways from the period:
Probably the most significant trend of this period is the elongated silhouette. You will notice that 2010 spring/summer collections include an assortment of long slim shirts, particularly tee-like tops, which create a long, thin look.

While in Naples, I went on a shopping spree and picked up all sorts of jackets and shirts, pants, and jeans, which are tight-fitting, creating a lean, slender silhouette.

Photo top left Guevara, Duke of Bovino, Procession Sant’Alessandro, Ischia, Public Domain.
Photo middle right Nobleman, Ferrante D'Avalos , Procession Sant’Alessandro, Ischia, Public Domain.
Photo bottom left Giulio Iasolino, medic, Ischia, Procession Sant’Alessandro, Ischia, Public Domain.
Photo bottom center, Aragonese Castle, Ischia, Copyright Men's Fashion by Francesco.

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