Today we left Milan for our excursions to Florence and Verona. We start in a Florence, roughly 3 and a half hours from Milan. It was an experience in itself traveling to Florence. I really enjoyed getting the chance to see the countryside of Italy, an aspect of Italy we are unfortunately not able to tour. In some ways it was similar to the United States countryside I am familiar with, long stretches of green that seem to extend forever. However, Italy had a much more complex terrain with rolling hills and mountains containing quaint cottages. They seemed to run the farms we passed by, which looked different than the ones I have seen in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, the farms have animals (cows, goats, and horses everywhere!), whereas in Italy the farms did not and instead had rows of endless trees and vines.
Much how the comparison between the United States countryside and Italian countryside is evident, the difference in fashion from the Uffizi Gallery and today is also quite obvious. The Uffizi Gallery focused on a variety of time periods within history, but the clothing within those ancient times seemed similar. Although the art depicted in the Gallery contained a lot of people without clothing, those with clothing showed trends that are much different than today. Not only was the style distinctly different, but each piece of clothing, it’s color, and accessories all had very specific and unique meanings.
The Uffizi Gallery fashion not only contrasted with current fashion, but also was very different between genders. Mostly males were were not clothed, while the women were draped in fabric. Many features of women in these pictures also revealed a lot about them. This is interesting because if a woman is seen on the street today, her background history is not normally able to be distinguished based solely on her clothing. Women were mostly depicted with blonde hair, a trend during Renaissance times that was maintained by putting urine in their hair. Other interesting telling features of women are very pale faces (meaning great wealth because they tend to stay indoors), updos (meaning the woman was married), and large amounts of jewelry (also meaning great wealth). When a woman has a band around her upper waist, this means she is pregnant. This is not only a symbol of pregnancy, but one of fertility and love.
Women seem to reveal a lot about fashion and life during the Italian ancient times because of the focus of them in many popular paintings. For example, the Virgin Mary is an iconic image in Italian art. She is mostly depicted in blue or other light colors to represent charity and purity. Other images of women show them solely as caregivers, living their life only to take care of their children.
Not only were women’s fashion revealing much symbolism about life many years ago, but other interesting symbols were color, figures, and shapes. Black meant death, so it was not widely used in paintings. Skinner people in paintings are related to gothic times. A triangle relates to the Blessed Trinity. One specific painting contained the triangle with an eye within it, which became the same symbol on the United States dollar.
Everything I learned at the Uffizi Gallery is very interesting compared to today’s fashion trends and what our trends mean. I think the most dramatic difference between the fashion in the Gallery compared to today is that everything had a specific meaning to the artists in the Gallery. That does not mean our fashion doesn’t, but society does not focus on the meaning of a color, shape, or pattern before they put it on. The most common thought is whether we like it or not. Today, we also do not necessarily follow a trend to show our social status, such as having very pale skin or wearing excessive jewelry to show wealth.
There is also a major difference in the way we use our fashion. Fashion was used centuries ago to depict social class and theological symbols. Now, fashion is used to express ones personal interests and differentiate ourselves from one another. Men also share interest in fashion, which is a contrast to all the paintings that do not clothe them.
Fashion has become an idea that the world shares. We can explore others fashion interest, and thus spark new inspirations in our own. Fashion seemed to divide classes in ancient times and set standards for people. Now while we may not all be able to afford the same clothing, humanity shares an interest in starting trends and embracing individuality.
The Uffizi Gallery was an excellent example of how society has evolved over time. The theology contained in the paintings has not changed, but the attitudes of society and the meaning of outward of appearances has changed.