Ms. Mannequin’s 15th Century Burgundian Gown and Headdress

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Today’s Printable Paper Doll Inspirations: This Manuscript Illustration from 1470, this Manuscript Illustration from 1401-1500, this one from the same work, and this Manuscript Illustration from 1475

A Burgundian gown for a paper doll based on illuminated manuscript illustrations. Along with the gown, there is a headdress based on the designs of the 1450s.

A Burgundian gown for a paper doll based on illuminated manuscript illustrations. Along with the gown, there is a headdress based on the designs of the 1450s.

Today’s paper doll dress and headdress are both from the 15h century. The gown is known as a Burgundian gown named for the Duchy of Burgundy.

About 1450, this style of Burgundian gown became popular. The deep V-neckline revealed the kirtle (under dress) beneath. The trimming would have been fur or wool. The wide belt was placed above the natural waist and gives the gowns a pregnant look.

(Remember, being pregnant was a good thing for women in this time. After all, fertility was seen as a super critical part of a woman’s value.)

Women never had uncovered hair in this era. So, I needed a headdress to go with the Burgundian gown.

The headdress I chose to draw was based on this illustration of the Whore of Babylon from an 1470 manuscript. The headdress is from 1450, according to the Morgan Library where the manuscript is housed. I’m afraid I don’t know quite enough about the era yet (though I am studying) to make any claim either way.

By the way, the wonderful book Illuminating Fashion: Dress in the Art of Medieval France and the Netherlands, 1325-1515 is currently on sale from the Morgan Library for just 20 dollars. I bought a copy for my library and I’d recommend it if you are at all interested in medieval dress. Though it doesn’t touch on how these garments were made, nor does it discuss how to make them yourself, so… don’t buy it if that is what you want.

Secondary Sources:

Houston, Mary G. Medieval Costume in England and France: The 13th, 14th, and 15th Centuries. N.p.: Dover Publications, 1996. Print.

Scott, Margaret. Fashion in the Middle Ages. N.p.: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011. Print.

Scott, Margaret. Medieval Dress & Fashion. N.p.: British Library, 2009. Print.

Ask me if you have any questions about the books or the manuscripts I looked at. There are links to all the manuscript illustrations at the top under the “inspiration” links list. I was just too lazy tonight to bother citing them all properly.

I know. I’m a rebel librarian sometimes. Happy Friday!

Curves: Renaissance

There are certain periods of history to which I am naturally attracted and then there are certain periods to which I couldn’t care less about. I find the Renaissance is not an era which I naturally am interested in, but there is a RenFaire (I’m not sure how to spell that, actually…) around here every year and though I haven’t yet gone to the Faire (apparently the added “e” is required) it got me thinking about Renaissance costume.



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Now, I admit I don’t know much about Renaissance clothing, but it’s a very interesting time because the first costume books were published in the late Renaissance- the second half of the sixteenth century to be precise. The most famous of these books was by Vecellio who described not just the fashionable clothing of Venice (where he was from and where the book was printed), but also all over Europe and the world.The book was titled Degli habiti antichi et moderni di viverse parti del mondo or in English “The clothing, ancient and modern, of various parts of the world” and it has just recently come out in full translation by Thames and Hudson. Unfortunately, the copy my library has was checked out, so I had to make do with John Peacocks The Chronicle of Western Costume which, though I have heard many complaints about it and I do have a few of my own, is an excellent general source. Both of these dresses come from Venice in the late 1400’s. The hair is my own attempt at a simple head-dress and the SCA reference is a nod to the highly likely lack of actual historical accuracy.

Any organization which calls themselves the Society of Creative Anachronism does not take itself too seriously and neither do my paper dolls.