From ancient Kings to modern Queens, a history of “crevées” (slashing) in fashion. (Holes – part 1)

Is not the most erotic part of the body wherever the clothing affords a glimpse?”

 Roland Barthes

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Below are two typical Dsquared2 jeans. Most of our grannies, used in their days to mending worn out clothes, would have long thrown it in the bin as being beyond repair. Yet, these are brand new. And they are significantly more expensive than plain, new-looking jeans. Our grannies would be beside themselves laughing. 

We decided to investigate the practice of making slashes to our clothes and looking the bollocks as a result.

At the very end of the 15th century, a new trend is seen spreading amongst the courts of Germany, France and England: “slashing”. In French, “crevées” (also chiquetades or mouchetures if very small). This practice consists in voluntarily slash small openings in the fabric of one’s garment, making the underlying cloth visible.

Francois 1er of France, note the “crevées” in the fabric
There is some controversy surrounding the genesis of this practice. An exciting theory, which like all good stories, might only have some part of truth in it, is that after the battle of Grandson (1476), Germanic mercenaries had mended their ripped battle clothes with bits of expensive fabric taken from the clothes of their dead enemies.

Whether true of not, there is a definite link with the art of war so dear to the European aristocracy, in the way that slashing symbolically represents battle wounds, and reminds people of the rationale for the division of society into three classes: the clergy, the aristocracy, and commoners: the latter might pay taxes in grain or coins, but the ruling class had payed the “blood tax” for centuries (fighting wars to protect the land and its people). This reminder was necessary at a time where the nobility actually became rather idle, and professional armies started to take over when it came to military campaigns.

Political cartoon depicting the people carrying the idle clergy and aristocracy on its back. Again, note the slashing on the sleeve.
In the early days, perceiving the practice as imitating destitution, the Church condemned it as immoral. Yet the trend would spread like wildfire in the 15th century, as it allowed nobles and the emerging bourgeoisie to further show their wealth by letting these openings reveal the shirt underneath, which by then has itself become a status symbol, being made of fine crisp white fabric and was changed every day.

Henry the 8th, white shirt visible and pulled out of dozens of small slits
Slashing as a fashion lasted well into the 17th century, and might have survived to this day, albeit in a profoundly evolved form, in the costume of the Vatican’s Swiss guards (below).


In relation to modern clothing, it all started with ripped jeans already a few decades ago, and in the last few years other items that we purchase brand new (jackets, sweaters, t-shirts…) actually look as if they were fit for the bin. And we love that.

The input of the Westwood/McLaren couple cannot be understated, we did an entire post about their legacy:  The punk in Mangapunk. Their legacy lives on as we can see in the mangapunk collection, featuring many slashed items, from t-shirts to jumpers and tuxedo jackets.

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Later, in the more consumerist era that followed the nihilist punk era, the contribution of Renzo Rosso and Diesel has to be acknowledged. You might know that his company is the licensee for Dsquared2 clothes…

I just found old and old-looking jeans more interesting than new ones, much as an old house tends to be more interesting than a new one – it’s alive’ he said in an interview. The Caten brothers obviously abide by this philosophy, and this is why ripped jeans are probably today the most quintessential Dsquared2 item.

A soon to be published post will touch on a linked topic: can these holes become too wide from (literally) wear and tear. Tune in on canadian-tuxedo.com.

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