This exhibition explores the evolution of courtly clothing from the
"Fashion Revolution" around 1330
King Charles VIII in a New Look 1494–95
The heraldry — which calls Charles VIII king of France, Sicily, and
Jerusalem — dates this image of the kneeling monarch to the short period
in which he ruled (at least titularly) those two far-flung realms. Charles
wears a new garment, the sayon, a man's outer coat, often of luxurious
cloth, with a fitted waist and a many-gored skirt. Its huge sleeves are typical
of the 1490s. He is shod in new pantoffles, round-toed slippers (often
with open backs). Before him lies the new carmignolle, a man's hat with
a low crown and a divided brim held up by laces (of which the gold aglets
Bifolio inserted into
a Book of Hours
France, Tours, 1494–95
Illuminated by Jean Poyer
295 x 223 mm
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1907; MS M.250, fols. 13v–14r
This was a period of transition in northern Europe—the Middle Ages were not yet over, and the Renaissance had not yet begun. Both King Charles VIII and Louis XII invaded Italy, and these military campaigns exposed France to Italian art, culture, and fashion. At the same time, the Late Gothic style still dominated the arts—and clothing—of northern Europe. Fashions of this period reflect these conflicts.
In the 1480s, the look for men changed abruptly. Padded shoulders and the V-shaped silhouette disappeared. Long loose open gowns came into style and, by the 1490s, these gowns became especially voluminous and bulky. Round-toed shoes replaced the pointy pouleines. New, however, and probably reflecting Italian influence, were the man's outer coat called a sayon, the man's hat called a carmignolle, and doublets with slit sleeves through which the linen of the shirt protruded.
Women's gowns of this period also became fuller, and bombard sleeves were revived. The neck got square. The turret disappeared, while its frontlet remained, now attached to a new small-crowned coif.