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.
Alexander the Great Fashionista ca. 1375–85
Alexander the Great, especially in the scenes at the lower right, exhibits
the wasp waist and bulbous torso that characterize the fashionable look
for men during the second half of the fourteenth century. Buttons and
padding in the doublet's chest and shoulders helped achieve this hourglass
silhouette. A low-slung "Bohemian" girdle and pouleines (pointed shoes)
complete the look. The women in these vignettes, including Candace
(to whom the king makes love), are depicted with similar silhouettes. The
woman's distinctively frilly ruffled hood is particular to Germany and parts
of the Netherlands but not France.
in Latin and German
360 x 280 mm
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1907; MS M.268, fols. 20v–21r
The second half of the fourteenth century was a bleak period in French history. The Black Plague, which first struck in 1348, was a recurring horror. As the Hundred Years' War dragged on, France suffered devastating defeats by the English. Following the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, King John II was captured and taken to London as a prisoner. Fashions changed little during this period.
Men's fashion was dominated by the pourpoint: a close-fitting doublet influenced by the military. With a short flaring skirt and a cinched waist, the pourpoint was padded at the chest and shoulders, giving its wearer a distinctive hourglass silhouette. Pouleines, long pointed shoes, and belts—slender, or the thick "Bohemian" girdle—worn low on the hips complimented the look.
The cote hardy—an outer garment for women—while retaining its voluminous skirt, got even tighter at the bodice, bosom, and sleeves. The resulting look paralleled that of men's fashion. Tippets, decorative strips of cloth hanging from the arms, remained popular. Both men and women continued to wear the chaperon (the hood with attached cape and tail).