Science and Fashion Across the Centuries

By SciFash
  • Period: 570 BCE to 497 BCE


    Although Pythagoras is mainly remembered for the Pythagoras's Theorem, Pythagoras also theorized about the link between music and math, discovered irrational numbers, and establishing the Platonic Solids.
  • Period: 480 BCE to 430 BCE


    Empedocles created an ancient theory of natural selection, mass conservation, and was the first to theorize that everything was made up of fire, water, air, and Earth.
  • Period: 460 BCE to 377 BCE


    Hippocrates is most famous for making medicine a separate discipline from the rest of the sciences.
  • Period: 384 BCE to 322 BCE


    Aristotle took Empedocles four elements (fire, water, air, and earth) and added a fifth element to the list. He believed that the Sun, Moon, planets, and Stars to be made purely of aether or quintessence. Aristotle also studied animals extensively and identified 11 genus making him the first to group animals together based on shared features.
  • Period: 310 BCE to 230 BCE


    Aristarchus calculated that the Sun is between 18 and 20 times farther away from the Earth than the Moon. However, his calculation meant that the Sun is bigger than the Earth which supported the theory that the Earth moves around the Sun, in place of the commonly held geocentric belief.
  • 300 BCE

    Birth of Euclid

    Euclid was a mathematician. Not only did he record everything known about mathematics, he also published works on optics and his theory of music.
  • Period: 275 BCE to 195 BCE


    Eratosthenes was a great mathematician who not only calculated the Earth's circumference with only around a 0.4% error (his calculation~ 25,000 miles; most accurate, current calculation ~ 24,900 miles) and also created a sieve called the "Sieve of Eratosthenes" for determining prime numbers up to any limit.
  • Period: 190 BCE to 120 BCE


    Hipparchus is known for founding trigonometry, accurately measuring the distance from the Earth to the Moon, mapping the precession of the equinoxes, and documenting the position and magnitude for over 850 stars.
  • 149 BCE

    The Claw of Archimedes

    The Claw of Archimedes
    The machine known as "The Claw of Archimedes" was a giant defense weapon similar to a crane which could lift enemy ships out of the water.
  • 70

    Pliny the Elder's Natural History

    Pliny the Elder's (born 23 BC) 36 volume encyclopedia on the natural world begins to appear. The Natural History contains scientific works on animals, vegetables, minerals, and more.
  • Period: 100 to 200

    Importation of Silk

    The increased trade with China through northern India led to the increased use of silk in the Roman Empire. Silk was often weaved in with other fabrics like linen since it was so expensive, but, on the rare occasion that it was silk alone, the fabric was worth its weight in gold.
  • Period: 129 to 216

    Galen of Pergamon

    Galen was one of the top physicians that worked with gladiators and eventually became the court physician for multiple emperors. He was the first to make the link between diet and health.
  • 150

    Creation of the Ptolemaic Model

    Creation of the Ptolemaic Model
    The Ptolemaic Model is Ptolemy's famous geocentric model that was believed to be true for around 1,500 years. The model included epicycles to explain retrograde motion and accurately predicted the positions of the planets in the sky.
  • 550

    Smugling Silk Worms

    Nestorian monks smuggled silk worms from China to Justinian, thereby increasing the production and the popularization of silk.
  • Period: 597 to 668

    Brah Magupta

    Brah Magupta established zero as a number and defined its mathematical properties. He also discovered the formula for solving quadratic equations.
  • 673

    The Arabs begin their first attack on Constantinople.

    The increased interaction with the Arabs popularize certain middle eastern costume elements like the turban.
  • Period: 1048 to 1131

    Omar Khayyam

    Omar Khayyam is mostly remembered for calculating the most accurate year length while making astronomical observations for Seljuq Sultan Malik-Shāh and for his algebra treatise. In his treatise he extensively discussed the solution of cubic equations by means of intersecting conic sections, and from there he discovered how to extend it on indefinitely.
  • Period: 1050 to 1250

    Florence established the major guilds

  • 1066

    Change in the Men's Tunic

    Men wore loose belted tunics or a tighter, more form-fitting one which featured slits in the skirt to allow for ease of leg movement.
  • 1096

    The First Crusade

    The First Crusade is launched. The crusades brought on the height of the middle eastern fashion in the Roman Empire.
  • 1108

    First Documented Fulling Mill

  • Period: 1200 to 1300

    1200s Rise in Fashion

    As the production of clothes became easier and their designs became about more than just functionality, there was a rise in what we know today as fashion or fads. To name a few, the shoes grew long, pointed toes, hoods grew in extra, unnecessary fabric, and veils and other fabrics of fine silk were interwoven with golden thread for a shimmering effect.
  • Period: 1200 to 1300

    Spinning Wheel and Horizontal Loom

    The popularization of the spinning wheel and the horizontal loom with foot treadles and shuttle simplified the production of textiles and clothing.
  • Period: 1250 to 1300

    Establishment of the Guild of Wool Manufacturers and Merchants

  • 1300


    Eyeglasses were invented by Salvino D’Armate. He is credited to creating eyeglasses in the 13th century. However, the first time he was mentioned that he was the inventor was 1684.
  • Period: 1300 to 1400

    1300s Women's Trends

    The 1300s saw bell shaped and long sleeves, jeweled girdles for the elite, woman carrying small purses that hung from their belts, gloves, flowers in their hair, and ornate veils of sheer.
  • 1330

    Government intervention in Women's Fashion

    Up to this time, women went through drastic measures to fulfill the most desirable trends. For example, to shave women would either burn their hair off or cut it off using broken glass, sunbathing in a special hat to get blonde hair but keep pale skin, and shoes rather similar to stilts. Many women paid with their life, including dying from pneumonia. The Florentine government decided women would have to dress more appropriately and soberly. Women, of course, found a way to side-step the rules.
  • 1336

    Creation of the first Sumptuary Law

    The Sumptuary laws limited who could wear what based on class level. 1336 saw the passing of the first Sumptuary law which was followed by a few more through the next 3 decades.
  • 1338

    The Hourglass

    The Hourglass
    First documented in Siena, Italy, the hourglass was a dependable, affordable, and accurate way of keep track of time that would not freeze up like other systems did.
  • 1348

    The Black Death

    After the plague, the lucky survivors inherited their fallen comrades' wealth, called the inheritance effect. The increased wealth brought on a major shift from investment spending to luxury spending, including increased spending on lavish clothing.
  • Period: 1400 to

    Optical Illusions

    While people might not have noticed at the time, people used optics to create many of their paintings during the Renaissance. The optical illusion can be achieved by using a mirror and positioning it towards an object, so the reflection of the object will be shined onto a piece of paper, then one can trace the reflection of the object. This demonstrated that the human eye is most accurate. People were could see the optical illusion but looking at the mistakes of the painting.
  • Period: 1434 to

    The Medici Family for Science

    Through the years of Medici rulers, many scientists have been supported in their discoveries, including Galileo, and this family's interest in science would lead to a museum for all of their scientific collections. This museum, named La Specola consists of an entire anatomical wax collection which would later allow for physicians to examine life-like bodies and determine what illnesses could have been present at the time. The museum opened to the public in the late 18th century.
  • Period: 1437 to

    Medici Family for Fashion

    This family has been a huge influence on the arts and fashion because they had commissioned for many of the famous art pieces to be created by the well known artists and scientists of the Renaissance.Their family's clothing consisted of the best silks and velvets produced in Italy. While their grand clothing would influence their own people, their clothing would be great influence on people of other nations, because of the marriages that took place between the Medici’s and other countries.
  • 1439

    The Printing Press

    The Printing Press
    The first mention of a printing press was in a 1439 lawsuit in Strasbourg, revealing the construction of a printing press for Johannes Gutenberg and his associates; however, little evidence remains supporting Gutenberg as the actual inventor. Although a movable version had already been created by China, this was the first mechanical printing press, allowing for quicker and more effective publication of scientific findings, new, and more.
  • Period: 1445 to 1510

    Sandro Botticelli

    Sandro Botticelli is one of the most well-renowned Renaissance artists, he has painted Madonna’s, portraits for the Medici family, and many mythological figures. All of his paintings show his ability to stretch his artistic ability, but he is often remarked for his paintings that emulate the essence of the Renaissance. His paintings are especially useful in fashion, because many of his paintings do exhibit the fashion that was appropriate for early Renaissance, moving away from the Gothic style.
  • 1450

    Dagging in Garment's trim

    Dagging in Garment's trim
    A fad rose in which the edges of the outer garment were decorated with dagging, edging it in loose pieces of fabric that resembled leaves.
  • Period: 1480 to 1515

    Da Vinci and Fashion

    Da Vinci made drawings concerning the human body, artwork and many different types of inventions, one of his drawings even concerned the mechanical loom, which would have would have lead to more efficiently producing silks and other fabrics of the time. While his drawings were revolutionary, his paintings were ingenious when it comes to reflecting on the simplicity of Renaissance Fashion.
  • Period: 1494 to

    The Italian Wars

    The Italian wars, which resulted in Spain and France taking control of different parts of Italy, led to renaissance fashion being heavily influenced by these places. For example, the French brought the Hennin into women's fashion, while the Spanish expanded on the women dress, eventually changing the waistlines from straight to v-shaped.
  • 1500

    The Sumptuary Laws

    The Sumptuary Laws were enforced in the times of the Renaissance to not allow people to dress above their station. Rules were made to make sure people dressed in their station, and the Lord or Lady of a house was required for dressing anyone living and serving them in their house.
  • 1501

    Michelangelo for Science

    Michelangelo for Science
    Michelangelo, one of the greatest sculptors and artists of the Renaissance, was tasked to make a marble figure to be a symbol of Florence. Michelangelo made what some people consider to be a perfect figure of David. This figure was not so easily achieved, he had to use physics and mathematics to find the correct dimensions to portray his vision the way he wanted it.
  • 1508

    Michelangelo for Fashion

    Michelangelo for Fashion
    Michelangelo was very specific with his clothing choices for all of the characters in the Sistine Chapel. While he has dressed them in some of the garb of the time, he incorporates similar proportions and the similar colors for certain characters, so it is easy to determine who is who in each scene. This shows that Michelangelo did not just want just to make them look grand, but to allow for the message to be easily understood by anyone.
  • 1513

    Da Vinci and Science

    Da Vinci and Science
    Da Vinci made many drawings of inventions that he was considering throughout his life. One experiment he worked on was with concave mirrors. He saw that positioning the mirrors in a certain way reflected light which would create heat, that could help with future military inventions. While this is just one invention, he also made many contributions to inventions concerning flight, time, and measuring wind patterns.
  • 1520

    Turkish Fashion

    Turkish Fashion
    Turkish fashion had an impact on Italian Renaissance fashion. When Turkish groups were fighting with Austria, they started occupying more land, and more people participated in trade with these groups. Elegant silks were brought back into the Italian fashion as well as the turban look, that can be seen so heavily early in Renaissance fashion.
  • 1543


    Copernicus publishes De Revolutionibus, this book explains his reasoning for a heliocentric universe. Copernicus looked to studies done by ancient Greeks and their reasons that the sun is actually the center of the universe. His ideas were a test to religious ideas that had been accepted for so long, so, even though he was on the right track, his reasoning was not accepted for many years to come.
  • 1567

    Santa Maria Novella for Fashion

    Santa Maria Novella for Fashion
    Cosimo Medici would be the one to offer to renovate parts of the Santa Maria Novella. The church inside contains frescoes depicting religious scenes and important figures of the time. The frescoes reflect upon the Gothic fashion when the church was first commissioned. If Cosimo had not chosen to restore the church, people would have never been able to understand the fashion and its changes from the Gothic to Renaissance style.
  • 1567

    Santa Maria Novella for Science

    Santa Maria Novella for Science
    The Santa Maria Novella reflects on the art and sciences of the Gothic and Renaissance periods. The Frescoes display some of the ideals and scientists so well known for the time in the Gothic period, but the building was renovated during the Renaissance, so new inventions like the sun-dial were added to the buildings to keep up with the new discoveries of the time. Also, the first Pharmacy was housed near the church.
  • Guilds of Florence

    Guilds of Florence
    The guilds of Florence provided different jobs for the many different fields of textile production. The silk industry was such a huge industry during this time, that while many of the other guilds were declining in the early 1600's, the guild's specifically for silk were booming.
  • Johannes Kepler

    Johannes Kepler
    Kepler discovered from looking at the motion of the planets, that they actually move in ellipses, not circles, they start to speed up the closer they get to the sun, and that the number of orbits can be determined by an equation. While Kepler often fought with Galileo about their experiments, his discoveries would eventually help Newton to discover his own laws of gravitation.
  • Period: to

    Textiles for Fashion

    Textiles were increasingly growing throughout Europe, and they were further developing expensive silks and velvets that helped to increase trade. Florence, Venice and Genoa were the most well known places in Italy for their exquisite fabrics created.
  • Period: to

    Textiles for Science

    While the textiles of Prato were made in early 12th century, new discoveries were constantly being made throughout Europe to further enhance the production of silks and other fabrics. Some of these inventions, while not originally discovered in Italy, these inventions still led to Italy being the hub for the production of much of the impressive silks and fabrics.
  • Opera

    Claudio Monteverdi wrote his first opera, Orfeo, in 1607 and is known for his tremendous contributions to enhancing the Opera, especially in adding more grandeur to the overall production. While he did not write the first opera in Italy, his production of Orfeo showcased the splendor of music, costumes and theatre, which would lead to Opera’s focus on the spectacle, that will capture audience for years to come.
  • Galileo

    Galileo’s, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, where he talks about his experiments, but the book is set up as a dialogue between characters. His books contains three main characters, all based off of scientists, one being himself, and they all explain their theories, and reason why they are correct. This book was revolutionary because it allowed for him to share his experiments with a wider audience of people, and allowed for more people to understand the concepts.
  • Isaac Newton and Prism Experiment

    Isaac Newton and Prism Experiment
    Newton had tested his theory about white light, he thought that white light was not pure light but a mixture of many different colors, and he originally noticed this when he shone a light through a prism and noticed the colors on the other side. From this experiment, he noticed that the whiteness that he was seeing was the combination of all of the colors.
  • Issac Newton's Laws of Motion

    In Isaac Newton’s life, he tried to determine the constant for gravity. Through Newton’s experiments and his reasoning with mathematics, he made observations about bodies in motion, which led to his laws of motion.
  • Uffizi and Fashion

    Uffizi and Fashion
    The Uffizi was originally a private gallery for the Medici Family, but after the end of the Medici Dynasty, it was eventually opened for the public. This gallery is a showcase of the masterpieces collected by the Medici family, and eventually saved by the last line of Medici’s. Many of the paintings inside are direct portraits of the family, and reflections upon the evolving fashion heavily influenced by the Medici’s and their powerful neighboring nations.
  • Henry Cavendish

    Henry Cavendish
    Henry Cavendish had been able to find the gravitational constant that Newton could not determine by suspending two objects of similar mass with wire, and finding the gravitational pull between the two. This experiment was so revolutionary because with the gravity constant, the mass of planetary objects could be determined and after this constant was found, it led to calculating the mass of the earth.
  • Electric Battery

    Electric Battery
    Alessandro Volta invented the electric battery in 1800. He battery consisted of alternating disks of zinc and silver (or copper and pewter) separated by paper or cloth soaked either in salt water or sodium hydroxide.
  • Electroplating

    Electroplating was invented by Luigi V. Brugnatelli in 1805. Electroplating plating one metal onto another by hydrolysis. This is used to prevent the corrosion of metal.
  • Typewriter

    The typewriter was invented by Pellegrino Turri in 1808. Pellegrino Turri invented for his blind lover, Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzano, so she could write.
  • Period: to

    Ascanio Sobrero

    Ascanio Sobrero discovered of nitroglycerine, which lead to Alfred Nobel's invention of dynamite in 1866. Nitroglycerine is also used as a heat medication. 
  • Electromagnetic Seismograph

    Electromagnetic Seismograph
    The Electromagnetic Seismograph was invented by Luigi Palmieri in 1856. His seosmograph was U-shaped tubes filled with mercury and pointed toward the different points on a compass.
  • Telephone

    The telephone was invented by Antonio Meucci 1871. There is a huge misconception that Alexander Graham invented the telephone, however Antonio Meucci did.
  • Period: to

    Guglielmo Marconi

    Guglielmo Marconi invented a radio antenna, which led to the first working radio. This was essential during WWII.
  • Bulgari

    The Roman jewelry brand was founded in 1884 by Sotirios Voulgaris. Bulgari's jewelry is inspired by ancient Roman and Greek architecture and numerals.For example, circular shapes are prevalent in Bulgari's ring, bracelets, and necklaces that are inspired by the coliseum.
  • Hydrofoil

    Hydrofoil was invented by Enrico Forlanini in 1900. Ships with hydrofoils can stay above the water.
  • Period: to

    Rita Levi-Montalcini

    Rita Levi-Montalcini is a remarkable woman who received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1986 for her discovery of "growth factors" in the nervous system with her colleague Stanley Cohen.
  • Prada

    Prada was founded in Milan by Mario Prada in 1913. Prada specializes in luxury good for men and women from handbags, shoes, and sunglasses but was originally know for their luggage. Miuccia Prada took over the family business and is now the head of Prada.
  • Gucci

    Gucci was founded in Florence by Guccio Gucci. Gucci Gucci called the first Gucci store in Florence the "House of Gucci". Gucci is known for its craftsmanship and leather goods. From belts to handbags to shoes. After Gucci Guccio's death, his sons took over store and made the brand internationally recognized. Gucci latter hired Tom Ford as their Artistic Designer who gave the brand an edgier look with plugging necklines and satin fabrics.
  • Fendi

    Fendi was founded in Rome by Adele Casagrande and Edoardo Fendi in 1925. Fendi is influenced by ancient Roman culture through roman numerals. When Fendi first opened, it was for family apparel and fur goods. Fendi is famous for the peekaboo bag and the baguette bag. Karl Lagerfeld was the creative director for Fendi in the 1960's. He was the creative director for many years.
  • Salvatore Ferragamo

    Salvatore Ferragamo
    Salvatore Ferragamo was founded in 1927 in Florence by Salvatore Ferragamo. Salvatore Ferragamo was known as the "shoemaker to the stars." His career took off because of this Hollywood elite clients.
  • Automatic Gas Igniter

    The Automatic Gas Igniter was invented by Dante Raso in 1928
  • Ettore Majorana

    Ettore Majorana
    Ettore Majorana was an Italian theoretical physicist. He worked under Enrico Fermi studying neutrino masses. However he mysteriously vanished at the age of 32.
  • Capri Pants

    Capri Pants
    Capri pant was invented by Sonja de Lennart. The pant style was named after the Isles of Capri. This iconic pant style became extremely popular in the 1940's and 1950's and was famously worn by Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
  • First Fashion Show in Italy

    First Fashion Show in Italy
    The first fashion show in Italy was in 1951 in Florence. Giovanni Battista organized the first show in Italy by calling and persuading American buyers who were in Paris for haute couture shows. This was an important event in fashion because many designers after the first fashion show in Italy decided to hold their fashions shows in Italy, which made Italy a fashion capital of the world.
  • Enrico Fermi

    Enrico Fermi
    At the University of Chicago, Fermi, working with Leo Szilard, built the first nuclear reactor in 1952
  • Valentino

    Valentino was founded in Rome in 1960 by Valentino Garavan. One of Valentino's most famous garbs he created during the 1960's was a full-length skirts. Valentino today is now known for their fiery red, angelic white, and rich black gorgeous gowns and couture dresses.
  • Armani

    Armani was founded in Milan in 1975 by Giorgio Armani. Armani is known for mixing non-eastern style with classic European. His use of neutral palettes for blended mens and women's business wear is iconic.
  • Versace

    Versace was founded in 1978 by Gianni Versace in Milan. Versace is known for their iconic medusa head logo. Versace grew up in an area that had the second oldest greek colony. Greek culture very prevalent in Versace life which lead to his curiosity for greek mythology. He loved the story of medusa specifically which was the idea behind his iconic logo for Versace.
  • Dolce & Gabbana

    Dolce & Gabbana
    Dolce & Gabbana was founded in 1985 by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana in Milan. Dolce & Gabbana is known for their elaborate patterns. They use traditional italian prints which includes flowers, fruits, and classic architecture.
  • Descience Project

    Descience Project
    A project in which the world of scientific discovery offers inspiration for the innovative minds of fashion designers. Descience creates collaborations between designers and scientists and brings research to the runway, providing a platform both for emerging designers and for science. They just had their first fashion show in 2014.