The Art of the ruff

Fashion and history have always walked hand in hand, any art historian will confirm. Every era have been revisited by numerous designers through the years. As recent exemples which comes to mind, think about Dolce & Gabbana opulent Byzantine inspired collections, Gucci’s modern take on 1930’s…My love for art and especially the Old Masters has always drawn me to the Renaissance era, either Italian or Northern European. One of the most common and recognizable accessory of that age is unquestionably the ruff collar, from the 1550 to the early 17th century, this multi-pleated piece dominated the European fashion worn both by men and women. At first a discreet ruffle from the shirt it soon evolved into extravagant changeable pieces of clothing, starched and wire framed, measuring up to 22 meters of costly fabric…Needless to say the ruff collars were far from affordable and were seen as a real an important social status marker, the appanage of the aristocracy and bourgeoisie.

Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Viktor and Rolf, Gareth Pugh among others have had their own rendition of the ruff in recent collections, let’s take a closer look at it:



Young woman wearing a ruff collar – Michiel Jansz van Miereveldt 1628

Capture d’écran 2014-01-20 à 21.46.26

Extravagant ruff – The Netherlands –

Capture d’écran 2014-01-20 à 21.55.26

El Greco, portrait of a man, late 1580

ruff original

An original ruff

ruff2 viktor

Viktor and Rolf




detail – unknown designer

ruff 8gareth pugh

Gareth Pugh


Alexander McQueen


Juno Watanabe

ruff deacon

Gilles Deacon


Coco Chanel wearing a flattering collerette