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.
Bulkiness Dominates the Look for Men ca. 1510
The frontispiece to this copy of Gringore's Les abus du monde, a poem
that satirizes all classes of mankind, shows the author presenting a copy
of his work to King Louis XII. The seated monarch, the kneeling author,
and the courtier standing behind them all wear the loose bulky gown,
with a huge collar and open sleeves, that is typical of this period. Even as
some Italian influence on French clothing can be seen during this first
decade of the sixteenth century, men's fashion in this twilight period was
dominated by these large, unflattering garments.
Pierre Gringore, Abuses
of the World, in French
France, Rouen, ca. 1510
200 x 130 mm
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1899; MS M.42, fols. 1v–
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.