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.
Young Love in the Spring (Part 1) ca. 1495–98
The young man carrying branches during the month of April wears the
new sayon, the man's outer coat with a fitted waist and a many-gored skirt.
Its large, slit sleeves are typical of the 1490s. On his head is the new
carmignolle, the man's hat with a low crown and a divided, upturned brim,
and on his feet are the new pantoffles, round-toed slippers. The man
courting in May is similarly dressed, although his sayon has a wide collar
instead of lapels. His girlfriend's gown features the period's square neck
and small bombard sleeves. Her headgear is the coif plus frontlet.
Psalter, in Latin and French
France, Paris, ca. 1495–98
Illuminated by the Master of
Philippe of Guelders and the
Master of Jacques de Besançon
263 x 192 mm
Bequest of Herbert H. Lehman, 1968; MS M.934, fols. 2v–3r
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.