Friday, September 7, 2012

10th - 15th Century Female Costume Prototypes

      The head-dress of women now began to show a preference to confine the hair with nets and to close in the face, which continued till the 15th century. The circlet and long plait or plaits and the flowing hair remained till the 14th century. In the 12th century we discover the hair gathered in nets at either side of the head, covering the ears. A low-crowned hat was bound over with a band of lawn or fine material passing underneath the chin, otherwise the plaits were looped up under a circlet which was also worn with the flowing hair.

Fig. 6.—Tenth to thirteenth century.
Fig. 8.—Twelfth to fourteenth century.
      A square effect was aimed at in the 13th century with tight side-plaits bound into a shape or netted hair was strapped to the head. A fall of fine material softened the hard effect, and many ladies of quality bound the face, neck, and head in the wimple of fine linen, sometimes gathering this to the same quaint shape of the netted hair. A kerchief of linen coming round the neck was brought up tightly round the face and festooned on the top of the head, while another piece was pinned close to the brows and fell loosely to the shoulders, being often held on by a circlet as well.

Fig. 11.—Fourteenth century, 2nd half.
Norman and Saxon Fashions of the 12th Century

Far Left, Portrait of a Young Girl , Petrus Christus. A truncated hennin, in fashion in Burgundy in the 1460s. Next, A crespine worn by Isabeau of Bavaria, Queen of France. Third, Mary of Burgundy (1457-1482) wears a headdress comprising a truncated-cone hennin, a jewelled padded roll, and a sheer veil.Far Right, Many Italian women wear their hair twisted with cord or ribbon and bound around their heads, c. 1380
Fig. 10.—Fourteenth century, 1st half.
      This character was maintained till the early 14th century, when a style of high peaked hats came into evidence, one shape of which became the most imposing feature of historic costume in the 15th century. It was still but a simple form in the middle of the 14th century, for another shape first gained predominance. Early in this century also may be noted a curious shape like the cap of liberty, usually with a long tail at the back. This carried design to the eccentric forms of the pig-tailed hood, and then the rival of the high peaked hat took its place towards the end of the 14th century—a cushioned head-dress, which rose and divided in a hornlike structure. It started as in Fig. 25, and I have illustrated its progress; the veil draping was a great feature, giving plenty of scope for individual fancy. It was, as a rule, richly decorated with gold and jewels, and the hair was completely enclosed in a gold net and a tight-fitting cap to hold this erection. Large drop ear-rings were much worn, and a fine chain of gems encircled the neck or fell to the breast.
Fig. 25.—Fifteenth century, 2nd half.
Left: Robert Campin (c. 1375 – 1444), Portrait of a Young Woman, 1430–1435, National Gallery, London. Van der Weyden's style was founded on the work of the older master. Middle: Rogier van der Weyden, Seven Sacraments Altarpiece, detail, 1445–1450, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp. This formal, group work shows high-ranking women dressed in the contemporary fashion of high—here divided—hennin and v shaped neck-lines. Right: Lady with an Ermine is a painting by Leonardo da Vinci, from around 1489–1490
      In the 10th century a long close-fitting robe was in fashion, sometimes with a deep V-shaped neck opening, though usually the neck was cut to a round form. Some sleeves were tighter with a small cuff, but usually the outer garment had a falling sleeve with a square or round end showing the tight undersleeve. The outer sleeve varied much in length, from the elbow or hand dropping even to the ground; it was narrow and widened through the 14th century, when its edge was cut into various patterns. In the 13th century we notice a long sleeve opened at the elbow for the under sleeve to come through, which beautiful style continued to the middle of the 17th century.
      With the 10th century came the first corselet from the waist to the hip, clasping a loose tunic with an under-dress taking a long pointed train. The manner of tucking the tunic under the corselet when it was worn over it, and so creating festoons, is worthy of notice as interesting in arrangement and design.
Emilia in the garden in this illustration from
 Boccaccio, Emilia wears the formal
ermine-trimmed sideless surcoat that
identifies royalty in illuminated
manuscripts of this period, 1460.
      The 13th century parti-colored and striped dresses foreshadowed the heraldic fashion, which must be studied for its proportion and treatment of decorative color-values in counterchange to get the true value of its noble effects.
      A great feature now appears in the chasuble-shaped front or setting to a closely cut jacket. This ultimately becomes the decorative stomacher through the later periods, and it is very interesting to note its development.
      In the 13th century this jacket was a fur construction of a long simple form opened at the sides to the hips for the sleeves to come through; it had a straight hem or was rounded at the front points, and a chasuble form of it was treated as in Fig. 13 or in conjunction with a short cape; it was chiefly a decoration of ermine. It grew into a complete jacket, and in the 14th century it was heavily ornamented with gems; and the simple front, from being a feature outside the jacket, was later often enclosed at the sides. The jacket itself is beautiful in form and proportion, and the curved band of design over the hips makes a nice foil to the curved front. This pattern is plainly derived from the effect of the rich girdle that was at first seen through the side openings and few jackets are without it, the usual shaping of the neck with most of these was square.

Fig. 12.—Nos. 1 to 7, 14th century. Nos. 8 and 9, 15th century.
      In the first quarter of the 14th century the setting of the neck was of a round shape, and after 1350 a raised or curved form is favoured. Later still, and with the hornlike head-dress, a very deep V shape, open almost to the belt was the mode, often being filled in with velvet. At the same time some began to take up the fashions of a very high collar and a round-shaped body and sleeves with which a wide pointed belt is seen. Some robes were opened in front up to the height of the girdle, though many dresses were worn without girdles after the 12th century. Decorated pockets are sometimes seen in the later period, and an interesting hand-covering or falling cuff came with them.

Fig. 13.—Nos. 1 to 3, 14th century. Nos. 4 to 9, 15th century
      The cloak as described in the 10th century still continued till the 12th, as well as the light wrap which may almost be placed with any period, though mostly a feature of the more classic styles.
      Skirts and underskirts were worn with trains. They were mostly banded with wide borders of ornament up to the 13th century, the fullness being often gathered to the back and front.
The chasuble-shaped overdress was worn to the middle of the 14th century, sleeveless, and, laced or sewn tight to the figure from the arm to the hip, or completely down the sides, generally reached just below the knee.
      The shoes were of much the same character as those of the male examples illustrated, though they hardly reached the same extravagance in length, owing, no doubt, to the feet of woman being hampered by her skirt; but I suspect they even braved high wooden clogs, as we know they did the tall chopins of the 16th century, to heighten their stature.

Elizabethan, 16th Century Dance Costumes.

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