If you think dressing up like a giant slab of filet mignon is a modern contrivance, think again. Throughout his career in the 1600s, Parisian artist Nicolas de Larmessin II drew dozens of jovially wackadoodle caricatures of people flamboyantly garbed as their professions. How flamboyant? Two words: seafood suit.

This 17th-century illustrator depicted a butcher wearing a suit of cleavers and cow heads, an apothecary festooned in drugs, and an astrologist who somehow managed to cram the entire zodiac into one outfit. In short, this is what would happen if you got the peasantry of the 1600s high as kites and told them to invent superheroes. It'd be all, "Je voudrais Blacksmith-Man" and whatnot.


And those two characters at the top are a musician wearing a suit made of instruments and a firework manufacturer who's decided to wear his product for some inexplicable reason. Here are our ten favorite designs by de Larmessin. Basically, this is the historical precedent to Mega Man's rogues gallery.

1. The Fisherman

2. The Perfumist

3. The Wine Merchant

4. The Baker

5. The Astrologist

6. The Pastry Chef

7. The Wild Game Merchant

8. The Butcher

9. The Hatmaker

10. The Armorer

And just because we love you, here are some more of these bizarre outfits. I'm particularly fond of the butter woman and the sculptor covered in his own artwork. These drawings look like the fodder for 10,000 Monty Python sketches. For more retro cosplay weirdness, check out the "women of the future" and the 1873 Charles Darwin themed Mardi Gras parade.

[Via La Boite Verte and Ptak Science Books]