The First Style Blogger Was a 16th-Century German Accountant


Who was the first fashion blogger? According to Susie Lau (aka Susie Bubble), it was a 16th-century German accountant. His name was Matthäus Schwarz's, and he was born in 1497. He spent much of his bookkeeping money on clothing, and between 1520 and 1560, he commissioned artists to document his outfits.

His version of Instagram was the “Trachtenbuch” (Book of Clothes), a book of his watercolors on parchment, which historians have called “the first book of fashion.” It's currently on display in Cambridge as part of the exhibition “A Young Man’s Progress” at the Fitzwilliam Museum in the U.K.

Schwartz commissioned the images over a period of four decades, and unlike many of today's bloggers who strive to appear in a flattering light at all times, his captions were refreshingly frank, Lau writes in the UK's Independent. One reads:

I had become fat and large.

But that certainly didn't stop him from donning elaborate outfits that included, Lau writes, doublets and breeches with thousands of “pinks” (small cuts into fabrics)—cutting-edge  fashion of the time. And like many style bloggers today, he communicated through is clothing, although his messages were perhaps more serious: He wore red and yellow to show support for the Holy Roman Emperor whose flag bore those hues to show his support for Catholocism.

Also like today's bloggers, Schwarz played a role in democratizing fashion. Lau writes:

Schwartz was bucking the convention of fashion being the preserve of the elite and the wealthy in a hierarchical society, but so too are today’s fashion-lovers on the periphery of the industry who make their presence known through their blogs and Instagram accounts.

Lau mentions in passing that Schwartz' Fashion Book has inspired artist and photographer Maisie Maud Broadhead to recreate photos using modern-day dandies—I'm waiting with bated breath for her Instagram account!

[Image via The Independent

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9 Responses

  1. Onianwah

    OMG, I think this is super cool. Waoh, it would be so nice to have a modern fashion blogger recreate some of his styles sometime. Perhaps it could be an IFB project and bloggers from around the world could participate.

    I think this is real cool.

    Lagos, Nigeria

  2. Emmanuelle

    Very interesting topic ! That’s something students in history of art should work on 😀 (well if I was still in my 3rd year, I would give it a try for sure !)