Dressed to impress :::.

by María Magdalena Ziegler 

Vogue did not exist back in the 16th Century nor did Anna Wintour. Fashion, however, did. But who would you choose as fashion rivals during those distant times?

Well, I would choose two fashion heavy-weight historical characters: Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) and Isabel Clara Eugenia of Habsburg, Governor of the Spanish Netherlands (1566-1633). It is true that they were not exactly contemporary. In fact, Elizabeth was 33 years older than Isabel, but it seems sensible that both were fashion stars of their times and contexts.

Juan Pantoja de la Cruz_isabel-clara-eugenia_1598

Juan Pantoja de La Cruz, “Portrait of Isabel Clara Eugenia”, 1598

Both pushed forward in fashion terms, were avant-garde and set trends. They went crazy about pearls and used them profusely in necklaces, bracelets, rings and different kinds of ornaments all over their dresses. They loved nature motives for the embroidery of their garments, no matter the occasion. They could not think about being well-dressed without a flamboyant ruff.

Queen_Elizabeth_I_by_George_Gower (1)

Juan Pantoja de La Cruz, “Portrait of Isabel Clara Eugenia”, 1598

They dressed to impress, no doubt. Elizabeth influence on fashion was so wide that even men began to use clothes similar to hers. Isabel, in the other hand, literally personified the many riches of one of the greatest empires in history, that of his father, King Phillip I of Spain (whom, btw, almost married Elizabeth before becoming her archenemy). In sum, they were (and still are) the perfect fashion icons.

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”~Oscar Wilde

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