The very first 'Spanish Hoop Skirt', as the name suggests, has originated in Spain. The English word "farthingale" is borrowed from the Spanish "verdugado", which means "wood" or "willow wicker", which formed rigid rings attached to the skirt. At the time when Elizabeth I (1558-1603) ruled in England, hoop skirts in Western European countries were called "verdingal", "verdugal", "fardingal", etc.
The first 'verdugados' in Spain were mentioned in the 1470's. Between 1480 and 1490, a noble woman's dress was unimaginable without such an addition. The "Spanish Hoop Skirt" at that time could be made up of several hoops, which became increasingly larger in the downward direction. Often they were double or even triple hoops embedded in the lower part of the petticoat only in one fabric tunnel. Sometimes rigid wood (wicker) or metal hoops were replaced with fabric bands and / or cords, giving a visual impression of rigid "Spanish Hoop Skirt".
The Truth About Metal Hoops
The answer to all those who still doubt whether the early "Spanish Hoop Skirt" was created using steel hoops! Yes, indeed, they were made of small metal sections, which were embedded in the lower part of the petticoats - in special fabric tunnels, giving the impression of the wheels. Hoop skirt frame could also be made from willow wicker, wood and since the 1580's - also from whalebone. Already in the 15th century, Spanish armor masters had achieved a remarkable level of mastery, which also came from the Middle East. That's why many so-called old-school costume historians have mentioned that a 16th-century Spanish-style gown was created by combining a work of the gunman, jeweler, tailor, embroiderer, posamentier, etc. masters.
The metal hoop skirt has been mentioned by the authoritative French fashion historian François Boucher, who, during the 1960's wrote one of the deepest and most extensive research on the history of Western civilization, the book "Histoire du costume en Occident: Des origines à nos jours ". His contemporary, British fashion historian J. James Laver - one of the leading British fashion historians of the first part of the 20th century, author of many publications and books, one of the specialists at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (1938-1959), has also mentioned metal hoop skirts that have been worn in the 16th century in Spain.
The contemporary publications on subject, including "Fashion: The Whole Story" edited by Marnie Fogg, contains a collaborative essays written by 27 Western fashion historians and with preface by Valerie Steele. This edition also mentions 16th century hoop skirts. This list could be continued ...
The Hoop Skirt Variations and Historical Peculiarities of Wearing Them
The development of hoop skirts in Western Europe shows two main forms - "Spanish Hoop Skirt" and "French Hoop Skirt". Both predicted that the petticoats would either be worn over the carcass or that hoops would be embedded in tunnel fabric tunnels.
First of all, "Spanish Hoop Skirt" was more widespread during the second part of the 16th century. They had a cone shape obtained with a hoop frame. Although hoop skirts first appeared in Spain already in the 15th century, they gained their popularity in the 1540's, when Spanish practice was used to hide the hoop skirt frame under the luxurious fabric skirt.
The popularity of hoop skirts in France and elsewhere in Europe was promoted by the Eleanor of Austria (1498 - 1558), also called Eleanor of Castile, who, as a queen of France (in 1530), introduced the French court to fashions for a hoop skirts. They also underwent further transformations here, as the Spanish version of the bell-shaped design soon got a barrel shape. Already in the middle of the century, a "French Hoop Skirt" appeared, the overall shape of which was complemented by a round tea or coffee table, which in some cases was visible on the top of the dress. A wider spread of "French Hoop Skirts" was later acquired in the 1580's.
The French name for hoop skirts - "vertugadin" is a word that literally means "the guardian of virtue". The meaning of the word contributed to the viability of the form of a radical costume in the Spanish religious atmosphere, but at the same time encountered incomprehension at the courts of other European countries.
The hoop skirt frame was often replaced by a large number of petticoats - from eight to twelve in winter and from six to eight in the summer. This was because hoop skirts were never used by ordinary people.
French Hoop Skirt, "Hip Roll", Drum Skirt and Other Variations
The overall costume changed with the appearance of the "French Hoop Skirt". This was the basis for new experiments.
It all started at the times of Charles IX of France, when the "Spanish Hoop Skirt" was replaced by a thick cloth roll (also called "hip roll") wrapped around the waist, which in turn rocked the top of the skirt to fall into rounded folds. At the end of the 16th century, a rigid plateau was added to this design, which transformed the shape of the hoop skirt into a "tambour". Often they were also called "wheel hoop skirts" because their wearer seemed to be in the middle of the wheel, but the skirt seemed attached to its outer rod. In the second half of the 16th century, such skirts were the most common in the court of the times of Queen Elizabeth I of England.
Another popular version of the hoop skirt, which gained recognition at the end of the century, was the "roll hoop skirt", which was more widely known as the bum roll ("butt roll"). It consisted of a roll of textile fiber, which was bent in a circle and tied at the front with a ribbon or cord. All these constructive variants of the hoop skirt were hidden under the top of the dress.
References & Further Reading:
Parute E. Stila un modes enciklopēdija. - Rīga, Jumava, 2010.