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The truth is that when we think of art we were trapped in the nets of the painting, sculpture and architecture, and a few times we think in fashion. A good exercise of pictorial attention would be comparing the dress of the monarchs throughout different historical periods.

Surely if we did a survey among the French population, the origin of the black as a symbol of elegance we would return to Coco Chanel , however, we were the Spanish the first that we identify the black as a synonym of distinction.

Something else that the black legend

If there is a term that summarizes the reign of Philip II that is austerity. The stiffness in all facets of life, and it is the spirit of the counter-reformation , and the mentality of catholic presided over all acts of the tangled bureaucracy of spain.

The dress should be according to the time and symbolize the purity, the humility and the honesty, therefore it is not surprising that the second of our Felipes will opt for the black color.

If to this we add its complex personality and his patobiografía is not strange that we fall into the error of associating the color black with the melancholy, the dark ages, and the sobriety of this moment. However, the reasons were others, were economic.

keep in mind that the manufacture of textiles became popular with the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century and that until this century, the dresses were considered a luxury. If we look back and we go back to the centuries before the discovery of America, the black garment symbolized the opulence, because it was very difficult to keep the tissues of that color in a lasting way.

When the Spanish conquistadors came to America they discovered the palo de campeche , a tree unknown in the Old Continent up to that time, which was possible to achieve a deep black colour that is fixed permanently to the clothing. In those moments this shade was known as “ black raven wings ”.

The palo de campeche arrived at the laboratory

This tree thorny, whose scientific name is Haematoxylon campechianum , it belongs to the family of legumes and is very abundant in the peninsula of Yucatán, especially in the state of Campeche, where it takes its name.

Philip II decided to adopt the “black raven wings” to the court and, with it, marked the fashion of the moment. And that is the elegance of black enhances the beauty of the necks of lechuguilla or ruff-necked, as well as the bushing, and bobbin lace.

The manner of dress of the Spanish monarchs, contrasted, for example, with the lavishness and exuberance of the dress of the English court. If we dive for a few moments in the iconography of the pictorial of the time we will discover that Henry VIII liked to dress in bright colors, very far away from the chromatic palette of the Spanish court.

The black remained as a banner of monarchy during the entire dynasty of Austria, however, with the arrival of the Bourbons agonized; while it is true that Felipe V kept during the first years of his reign with the intention of earning the favour of the Spanish people.

In the NINETEENTH century the black again enter the scene, in this case the hand of the dyes are artificial, it was the color that, for example, have adopted the powerful men of business.

Since then he has not gone out of our lives and their pairing with the white is a symbol of glamour, so it’s not surprising that we find this association in the dresses of the red carpet or tuxedo. By the way, this male costume derives from the English term smoking jacket –jacket for smoking – which was a garment that was placed on the costume common to avoid the smell of tobacco impregnase the tissue.

Returning to the tree campeche , is still fully relevant today in labs around the world because of its wood is extracted a dye called hematoxylin –from the Greek haima, blood, and xylon, wood – that is used to stain biological structures of acidic (basophilic) in shades of blue and purple.

M. Jara

Pedro Gargantilla is a internist in the Hospital of El Escorial (Madrid), and author of several popular books.

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