Matthäus Schwarz and his “Livre des Costumes”
Did you know? The German accountant Matthäus Schwarz from Augsburg was actually the first ever fashion blogger/ Instagrammer in this world! On July 2, 1526, he had himself painted for the first time – completely naked. The accountant for the Fugger family, one of the richest merchant families in the world, started his project “Klaidungsbüchlein/ Trachtenbuch” ( = clothes booklet) in 1520. He got himself portrayed by the book painter Narziß Renner to record his styling and look. Every time, Schwarz also noted down the date, his age, the specialty of his clothes as well as the political background at that time. Schwarz also commissioned Renner with 36 portraits of him from the past such as paintings of his youth and childhood. The book painter Renner and Schwarz were working together for 16 years until Renner died due to the plague. A total of 137 paintings are part of the collection.
Schwarz was also self-conscious regarding his age or weight-gain. Meticulously he listed down his waist circumference. Not a rare phenomenon at that – the time of the Renaissance. Back then, people started to become more conscious about their clothes, looks, and uniqueness. Dresses had to be more colorful than before and the cuts had to offer something new – it was the start of “fashion trends”. Good clothing meant to have a sense of culture and to be able to stand out from others or to become part of a social class.
The last of his paintings in his book shows Matthäus Schwarz dressed in a black coat and hat. It shows him in the mourning clothes he was wearing for his employer Anton Fuggers funeral in 1560.
Matthäus Schwarz died at the age of 77. His son Veit Konrad continued his fathers idea of portraying himself in different outfits.
Other than influencers today, Matthäus Schwarz book “Klaidungsbüchlein” was only meant to be for himself. Who would have known that 500 years later, he would be worldwide known as the first ever fashion blogger in history?