This exhibition explores the evolution of courtly clothing from the
"Fashion Revolution" around 1330
This exhibition is generously underwritten by a gift in memory of Melvin R. Seiden and
by a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
Major support is provided by The Coby Foundation, Ltd., with additional assistance from
the van Buren family in memory of Dr. Anne H. van Buren, and from the Janine Luke and
Melvin R. Seiden Fund for Exhibitions and Publications.
Musicians Have Always Been Snappy Dressers 1430s
Psalm 80 in medieval Psalters was traditionally illustrated with an image
of David playing the harp. In this prayer book, a group of young men —
all fashionably attired — joins the king in making music with a variety of
instruments. They wear the knee-length, fur-lined gown, belted at the
waist and with a full or slit skirt. Pleats at the skirt, bodice, and upper sleeves
make the garment quite ample. The
man's gown evolves quickly: the skirt gets shorter and the shoulders get
wider. The musicians sport the bowl haircut called a "not heed."
Warwick Psalter-Hours, in Latin
England, London(?) 1430s
271 x 185 mm
Purchased on the Belle da Costa Greene Fund,
with the assistance of the Fellows, and the
special assistance of the Hon. Robert Woods
Bliss, Mrs. W. Murray Crane, Mr. Childs Frick,
Mr. William S. Glazier, Mrs. Matilda Geddings
Gray, Mr. Arthur A. Houghton, Jr., Mr. and
Mrs. Donald F. Hyde, Mr. Milton McGreevy,
Colonel David McC. McKell, Mr. Joseph V. Reed,
Mrs. Landon K. Thorne, Mr. Ralph Walker,
Mr. Christian A. Zabriskie, and an anonymous
foundation, 1958; MS M.893, fols. 170v–171r
In 1435, during the final chapter of the Hundred Years' War, Duke Philip the Good switched sides and supported King Charles VII. By the following year, the English occupation of Paris ended. When Charles VII regained Normandy and Aquitaine in 1453, the long war was finally over. In the ensuing period of peace and prosperity, fashion revived.
These decades saw the last of the houpeland. It continued to be worn by men and women in provincial areas, but in France and Flanders it was appropriate only for formal occasions. Men more often wore the gown: full or knee length, belted at the waist. Over the course of these thirty years, men's gowns, via flaring pleats and ample shoulder padding, assumed a flattering, V-shaped silhouette. While the chaperon remained popular, new hats also arrived.
Women's gowns featured wide V necks with contrasting collars and partlets (plackards worn at the midriff). Headgear atop the temples continued to evolve, growing ever more extravagant. Burlets got thicker and climbed higher. Butterfly veils, supported by wires, floated like sails above ladies' heads.