BYZANTIUM:The Period of Luxury

Written By- Annu Taneja

Guided By- Ms Monika Malik


Byzantium took place in the 5th Century B.C. (315) when the Emperor Constantine transferred the capital from Rome to Byzantium, and lasted till the 12th Century (1453).

“Clothes make the man or woman; clothes make the person. It is not a modern saying, but instead an ancient concept”

The rise of Byzantium saw a bloom in fashion in the terms of colour, ornamentation, accessories and the rise of Christianity. Byzantium took its roots from the Romans and the Greeks. The Byzantium empire was known for its fashion and culture worldwide. The wealthy and luxurious empire was reflected through its colourful and heavily beaded clothing. It was inspired by the Orient and Middle East with whom they had trade relation. Traders brought luxurious fabric in the city from all these regions, and rich Byzantines instantly adapted the colours, patterns, and fabrics from the east in their costume traditions.


Byzantium dresses were very conservative because of the influence of Christianity. The shape of the body should be covered by clothing, showing off skin was no longer acceptable and was considered a sin. At the beginning of the Byzantium Empire, the Roman “TOGA” was still worn for formal or official occasions. During Justinian times dresses were changed into a “TUNICA” or long Chiton, which were unisex in nature. The upper class also wore a “Dalmatica” over their tunica. Dalmatica is a long, loose sleeved robe with close fitted bodice with embellishment on it and a fuller skirt which was worn either belted or without the belt above the waist.

These Women’s are wearing Tunics with Dalmatica Image source:
Reinette: Costume Illustrations by Raphaël Jacquemin,Paul Louis Giafferri and Pauquet Brothers
The famous purple with gold embellishment dress. Image Source:

Tunics were worn as undergarments by every class differentiated on the basis of fabric used. The open sandal was replaced by a leather shoe. Women had long hair worn in braids, rolls, frizzed or wrapped in turban.


Men also wore “Toga” and “Tunica”. Later, men wore shorter tunics to have some freedom of movement along with Trousers known as “bracae” or hose covered the legs, but not by wealthy hierarchy because this clothing was associated with barbarians. Feet was sometimes tied with leg bandages. The open sandal was now replaced with a leather or fabric shoe, which further followed the shape of the foot and was usually embroidered or painted. After 6th century the cloak were worn symmetrically.

Men’s here are wearing Toga and Tunics. Image Source:

Rectangular cloaks was reserved for the lower classes until 12th century.

The common Tunics. Image source:

The colour palette was uni-sexual which consisted of mostly all colours but especially purple which was the colour of royalty used with gold embroidery and embellishments.


Byzantines loved colour and pattern especially silk was their favourite material which was used very frequently. The Byzantines wove their silk into a strong fabric known as “Samite” which had gold thread woven into the material depending upon the class. Silk was a form of luxury and byzantines loved luxury. Heavy materials like silks and velvet’s were worn by the upper class.


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Image source :

The fashion world has fastened onto the lavish and glamorous world of byzantium inspired art dresses . A lot of inspiration has been taken from Christianity. It has mostly influenced the couture fashion because byzantium was all about luxury and so is couture.

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Image source :

Byzantium had such a huge impact that if a persons knows even a little bit about this empire, they will identify with the byzantine civilisation. All the gold and glitter put aesthetically, is a blessing that we have received from the Byzantium empire. Christian symbols like the cross, domes of churches and the embellishment of luxurious stones on gold are the key elements of Byzantium.

Byzantium has inspired many luxury designers, especially Dolce & Gabbana who presented a Fall/Winter 2013 collection in Milan which was ultra rich in embellishments, full of regality and intricately crafted details. History has always inspired the designers and byzantium has left the prominent mark in luxury and richness behind to inspire many.

Have a look at some luxury:

Byzantium has become a huge inspiration for accessories. The usage of gold, embellishment with different stone, imprinting the paintings of Jesus and all the precious stone crusted on gold crowns are inspired by Byzantium.

Image Source:

“Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality”- Nikos Kazantzakis

Byzantium was all about living larger than life in the lap of luxurious life. The clothing sure was conservative, but they had best fabric choices enhanced with embroideries and embellishments.

Now go add some GOLD AND EMBELLISHMENT in your wardrobe..!!

Until then don’t forget to like, share, comment, and follow!!!

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