Monday, January 6, 2014

Medieval Ladies and Burgundian Dress

The challenges of fifteenth century women's fashion as explained by Dr. Sarah Peverley. To quote:
The houppelande was a sumptuously weighty gown, lined with fur, worn over a slim fitting cotehardie and chemise. By the early fifteenth century it had developed a long train, large turned-back collar and lavishly long sleeves. In the 1440s the sleeves started to become tighter again and, as the century moved on, they became the slim-fitted sleeves of the burgundian gown, with fur or fabric bell-shaped cuffs that could be turned back. The collar of the houppelande similarly evolved, dropping down further and wider, until it became the V-neck shape of the burgundian gown. Other changes included the gradual introduction of a deeper belt, or girdle, to draw in the loose-fitting skirt, creating a more slender waist line. By the end of the century the top of the dress had become so fitted that such a large belt was no longer needed and ladies (by this time Tudor ladies) wore thinner, decorative belts.

For late fifteenth-century inspiration, I turned to my favourite images of the gowns from medieval art and manuscripts: a depiction of Saint Ursula in the Master of Lucy Legend’s painting of the Virgin surrounded by female saints (circa 1488); two images of Mary of Burgundy in Mary of Burgundy’s Book of Hours (circa 1477); a painted panel circa 1480 depicting Saint Catherine converting the scholars (Walters Art Museum 37.2487); and The Whore of Babylon in Pierpont Morgan MS M. 68. (Read more.)

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