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.
Death Takes a Knight 1486
For our purposes, we can ignore the patriarch, the constable, and the
archbishop (Death's first three victims) and concentrate on the knight at
the far right. His gown has the new look of the 1480s. Open, with wide
lapels, it is long, loose, and, lacking the pleats of the previous decades, hides,
rather than highlights, the male form. Gone, too, are the flattering padded
shoulders. His hat, with its low crown and brim, is also new, as are his
shoes. These are the demy pantouffles, round-toed slippers with an open back.
Dance of Death, in French
France, Paris (printed by
Guy Marchant), 1486
Woodcuts designed by the
Master of the Chronique
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.