The town of Basel in Switzerland is known today on the international fashion scene mostly for its annual Baselworld event, which gathers the best in watchmaking from Switzerland and beyond. The event rounds up thousands of fans of luxury watches and a strong media crowd.
Located at the meeting point of the German, French and Swiss borders, the town is an important cultural center, being renowned for its museums. Throughout its history, the city has always been an important part of culture, as it encouraged humanism and has emerged as a center for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry in the 20th century. Basel is also the home of the oldest university in the Swiss Confederation, dating back to 1460.
Because it has been such an important center and always ahead of the curve, Basel has also been quite the fashion city in its own right. As we always say, fashion is a reflection of society and culture and is a strong influence on politics and daily customs.
Hans Heinrich Glaser (1585-1673) was an engraver who lived in the town of Basel and who is known best in the art world for his two volumes of fashion illustration he created a decade apart. The first one, which dates back to the 1620s, was in fact copied from other illustrations.
Glaser’s second book, called “Basler Kleidung” (Clothes of the inhabitants of Basel), was published in 1634 and remains to this day a very relevant historical source for the clothes that were worn in 17th century Basel. The book also comments on the culture of the time, with the occasional visual humor inserted in the engravings.
The images clearly depict an image of what Basel was, and in an odd way, of what it is today as well: a conservative society that is open to the best in terms of culture and art. The people of Basel have always worked to balance out the traditional aspect of life with the new and fashion forward.
Fraquoh and Franchomme
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