This exhibition explores the evolution of courtly clothing from the
"Fashion Revolution" around 1330
The Fashionable in Pursuit of the Wolf ca. 1406
While their motley crew follows on foot, two
well-dressed hunters pursue the hated wolf on
horseback. The huntsman in blue wears a fur-lined
midcalf houpeland elaborately embroidered in red,
white, and gold. Around his high waist is a gold belt
from which fall gold chains terminating in bells.
Orange provides the accent on his "bag hat" and
matching chaussembles. Behind him rides a second
hunter in a houpeland partied in green and pink
and with especially large bombard sleeves. He wears
an elaborate gold baldrick diagonally across his
back. The rolled tube of cloth on his head is a burlet.
Gaston III Phoebus, Livre de la chasse,
in French and Latin
France, Paris, ca. 1406
Illuminated possibly by the Josephus Master
and the Bedford Master
385 x 287 mm
Bequest of Clara S. Peck, 1983; MS M.1044, fol. 86r
In 1392 King Charles VI suffered the first of forty-four bouts of madness that would cripple his reign. During a lull in the Hundred Years' War, strife between France and Burgundy erupted into civil war. This domestic crisis was sparked by the 1407 assassination of Charles's brother by Duke John of Burgundy. In 1419 the duke, in turn, was murdered by supporters of the crown. During these tumultuous times, fashion reached unbelievable heights of luxury.
Men's and women's fashions were dominated by a new garment, the houpeland. Men's houpelands featured enormous sleeves and a skirt ranging from full length to crotch level. The pourpoint remained popular, albeit often finely embroidered and equipped with large sleeves. Accessories included fancy baldricks (sashes) and belts—both sometimes hung with bells. Tall bonnets or chaperons, often tied into imaginative shapes, completed the look.
Women's houpelands were always full length, with bombard or straight sleeves. The simpler cote hardy, with its voluminous skirt and tight upper body, continued to be worn. Women began to wear their hair in temples, a double-horned coif surmounted by veils or a tubular burlet.