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.
St. Eugenia's Clothes Are Encoded ca. 1460
SS. Protus and Hyacintus wear the full-length version of the man's
gown — an alternate garment often preferred by middle-aged or older
men. Above a full skirt, the torso was the same as with the short gown:
pleats and padded shoulders formed a flattering male silhouette. Eugenia's
attire, however, is anachronistic: the low wide neck and tippets hanging
from her sleeves hark back to the fourteenth century. Her bejeweled
turban (like that worn by the Roman emperor at the right) is complete
fantasy. The illuminator used out-of-date and invented garments to place
the martyrdom in a distant time and place, third-century Rome.
Jacobus de Voragine,
Golden Legend, in French
Belgium, Bruges, ca. 1460
Illuminated by the
Master of the Jardin de
379 x 270 mm
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1911; MS M.675, fols. 74v–75r
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.