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The Duc de Berry Gown Project

I live!

I have not abandoned this blog, though it certainly must seem like it, I've just been horrendously busy. Nor have I forgotten about that Tudor Transitional project, but, like so much else, it has had to take a back seat to more pressing concerns. Now I find myself with an event in July, where it will be much too hot to go in full Tudor/Elizabethan style. What to make instead?

Last year I got a serious sunburn, whilst in my Italian renaissance-style outfit. The main problem...no hat. So I racked my brain thinking about what style of Medieval costume would grant me some shade. Veils are all well and good, but they don't shade the face enough and can be sort of hot and clingy themselves. I finally hit upon the solution; early 15th century French, as in the gown worn by the Duc de Berry's bride (see above).

Everyone's familiar with this picture from "Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry" and this gown is one of the prettiest it shows. It's also a good example of several styles being worn by different people at the same time. You have the sort of pelicon overdress with the tippets worn by the woman sitting in the back, the voluminous houppelande (very avant garde) worn by the woman in black and red, and the fitted gown with hanging sleeves on the Duchess.

Here's another example, from a little earlier, worn by Isabella of Valois who died in 1383. The neckline of the gown is a bit higher, but you can see the squared-off edge of the fur-lined hanging sleeves really well, and the jeweled collar over the rounded neck. No fur for this July outfit, but the same deep ermine hem could be achieved with a different fabric.
This lady, circa 1411, gives us a wealth of information. I love the deep headroll (hard to tell if there is a cap at the crown or not, but for my version there will be), and it shows off the side lacing which is how the fitted nature of the overgown is achieved. I suspect some back lacing as well to make it easier to get into because otherwise the sleeves being set in might make that difficult.

Finally, can we talk about this gorgeous closeup of some fabric from a painting by Van Eyck from 1432-36? Seriously, the luscious pile of the blue velvet with the almost-stamped look of the gold. Blue shows up a lot in portraiture, manuscripts, and paintings from this period, so I'm definitely leaning in this direction. We'll see what the fabric Gods have in store (pun intended) tomorrow.

Next time:- Fabric, folly bells, and shoes.
 

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