Fazzoletto

This item, known better by it’s English name partlet among many costumers, is what a modern person might refer to as a ‘dickie’. Among the lower classes it would likely have been linen (or possibly wool) and worn for practical purposes.

The story goes that the upper classes often wore them in response to sumptuary laws that determined their necklines must not be below a certain level. With a fazzoletto they could have their gamurra neckline as low as they liked and used a sheer silk fazzoletto to bring their neckline in line with the rules while flaunting them at the same time.

You can see the fazzoletto worn either under the gamurra or over it in period art but you might need to look close– sometimes they are hard to spot.

1475-1477 Domenico Ghirlandaio Annunciation of the Death of St. Fina (detail) .jpg

This detail from Domenico Ghirlandaio’s 1475-1477 Annunciation of the Death of St. Fina shows lower class women wearing a simple cut of opaque fabric.

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Leonardo Da Vinci’s Portrait of Ginevra Benci dated 1474 shows the fazzoletto worn tucked into the bodice.

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This portrait by Ghirlandaio suggests that if the fazzoletto was worn over the gamurra bodice it was worn under the outer garment.

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Domenico Ghirlandaio’s  Portraitdated 1485 shows the fazzoletto was sometimes held closed with a pin or button.

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Agnolo e Donnino del Mazziere’s Portrait of a Young Woman shows a very sheer fazzoletto over the bodice of the gamura.

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Domenico Ghirlandaio’s  Portrait of a Lady dated to 1490 also shows a sheer fazzoletto over the bodice.

 

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Sebastiano Mainardi’s  Portrait of a Woman also dated 1490 shows a thicker, but still sheer fazzoletto edged with a decorative stitch.

My pattern is below:

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It’s not a pattern you can print and use, but hopefully it will help with the general shape.

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I have only made one fazzoletto which I made in silk, and hemmed it with silk thread using a decorative stitch.

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Come See Me at Abbey Medieval Tournament

Once again I will be doing a talk/demo/hands on show with my re-enactment group at the Abbey Medieval Tournament in Queensland, Australia. So if you’re interested in seeing spinning 15th centry European style, come on over either day at 2pm.

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I will be located in the Company of the Phoenix encampment in Kirkby Village. You can see the Village on the map here https://abbeymedievalfestival.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/AMF_2016Program_A5_Map.pdf?398d6a My group is underneath the part that says “14/15th century village”

I adapt the show to the interests of my audience so let me know if there’s anything particular you’d like to get out of the demo, but the sorts of things I cover include fibre prep of both wool and flax, how the spinning technique is different to the drop spindle style practiced by modern crafters, the research needed to piece this spinning method together, how to spin, various interesting tidbits and historical information and I’ll be able to let people have a go at spinning to.

The Underskirt Theory

In this theory a underskirt is worn, either between the kirtle and gown or under the kirtle. In the former just the gown needs to be lifted to show the differing fabric at the hem. In the latter both gown and kirtle are lifted to show the underskirt.

1495-1500, UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Lamentation, Museum of Art, Santa Barbara

1495-1500, UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Lamentation, Museum of Art, Santa Barbara. The women in the back, right is wearing a dress kirtled up to show a rich brocade underskirt.

1470s , UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Deposition, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne detail

1470s , UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Deposition, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne (detail) In the bottom left you see a lady wearing a side laced kirtle. The red showing at the hem could be an underskirt. When both gown and kirtle are lifted the smooth front of the kirtle would show at the neckline while the red underskirt would snow at the hem.

 

The Raising Two Skirts Two Kirtle Theory

This is another theory where two kirtles are worn underneath the gown. In this theory, however, the fabric seen filling in the neckline of the gown is from the over-kirtle. When the skirts of the gown are lifted the skirts of the over-kirtle are also lifted, and the fabric showing at the hem is thus the skirt of the under-kirtle. There are a few images showing a rich fabric kirtle under a plainer one, and often the fabric showing at the hem is a richer fabric than at the neckline.

1495-1500, UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Lamentation, Museum of Art, Santa Barbara

1495-1500, UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Lamentation, Museum of Art, Santa Barbara. The women in the back, right is wearing a dress kirtled up to show a rich brocade underdress.

 

1463, MASTER of the Life of the Virgin, Visitation, Alte Pinakothek, Munich detail

1463, MASTER of the Life of the Virgin, Visitation, Alte Pinakothek, Munich (detail) The lady on the left is wearing a side laced kirtle over a brocade kirtle. If she was to wear a v neck gown over this and raise the skirt of the gown and the red kirtle then it would give the look of brocade at the hem, flat red at the front.

1470s , UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Deposition, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne detail

1470s , UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Deposition, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne (detail) In the bottom left you see a lady wearing a side laced kirtle over a red kirtle. When both gown and kirtle are lifted the smooth front of the kirtle would show at the neckline while the red underkirtle would snow at the hem.

The Differing Bodice and Skirt Theory

This theory is also a subset of the underdress theory and is another way of explaining the difference between the fabrics of the hem of the underdress and the bodice. The theory goes that the bodice and skirt are two different colours. This is perhaps the least common theory of all. Waist seams only appear to come into common use (according to contemporary art) in the 1460s so the method of making a dress with a waist seam was still relatively new. Had they made the leap from waist seam to a separate bodice and skirt from differing fabrics?

That said there are a few pictures that suggest they had, however there is no proof that they wore these under a Burgundian gown. It is, however, a valid interpretation.

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One interpretation of this is a lady wearing a dress with an orange bodice and green skirt. I think it may be an orange jacket over a green skirt, but the picture is from here if you’d like a closer look.

1489, German, Die Geubert der Maria, Schwabischer Meister

1489, German, Die Geubert der Maria, Schwabischer Meister. Could ths be a differing bodice and skirt?

The Applied Border Theory

This Theory is a subset of the underdress only theory. The theory goes that sometimes when the Burgundian gown is lifted in paintings you see a different colour at the hem to at the neckline. This difference is because the undergown has an applied boarder or frill on the skirt of a different fabric to the rest of the kirtle. Often the fabric shown at the hem is far richer than that shown at the neckline of the gown so this gives the wearer a way of using a very rich, expensive fabric and showing it off without using much of the fabric. Or perhaps if the hem on a kirtle wore out or became badly stained and was replaced with a different fabric. One quite often sees applied, ruffled bands of the same fabric to a kirtle, so the practice did exist.

1450-1480 Flemish, Bibliothèque de Genève Ms, fr, 64, La fleur des histoires by Jean Mansel

1450-1480 Flemish, Bibliothèque de Genève Ms. fr. 64: La fleur des histoires by Jean Mansel. Here the skirt of the gown is lifted up far enough to show the red boarder on the kirtle.

1460, EYCK, Barthélemy d',René d'Anjou, The Book of Tournaments, Manuscript (Ms. français 2695), 386 x 298 mm (folio size), Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris detail

1460, EYCK, Barthélemy d’,René d’Anjou, The Book of Tournaments, Manuscript (Ms. français 2695), 386 x 298 mm (folio size), Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (detail).        Here the gown has an applied boarder of a different fabric which suggests the practice of bordering a dress with a different colour was at least known and done.

1475, MINIATURIST, French, Le Chansonnier Cordiforme (Chansonnier de Jean de Montchenu), Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

1475, MINIATURIST, French, Le Chansonnier Cordiforme (Chansonnier de Jean de Montchenu), Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. This image is small, but you can see the applied brocade boarder on the black gown. Again, showing there was at least a historic practice of applying a broacade boarder to a skirt.

 

The Underdress Only Theory

The underdress only theory is that between the smock/chemise and the Burgundian gown is an underdress. I’ll call it a Kirtle, some people call it a gothic fitted dress. Back in the day this was known as an underdress theory as there was debate on if there was a dress worn under the Burgundian gown or if it was just a placket directly over the chemise. These days it is generally agreed that a lady would not wear the gown directly over her chemise so the theory focuses more on what ELSE was worn under the Burgundian gown.

Support for the Chemiseà Kirtle à Gown theory can be seen in any painting that shows the undergown’s hem being the same colour as the v of fabric showing under the neckline of the gown.

1450s and c. 1480, UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Last Judgment and the Wise and Foolish Virgins, Staatliche Museen, Berlin detail2

1450s and c. 1480, UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Last Judgment and the Wise and Foolish Virgins, Staatliche Museen, Berlin (detail) Here you can see the the gown is worn over a red kirtle.

 

1480, Saint Catherine Converting the Scholars, Flanders

1480, Saint Catherine Converting the Scholars, Flanders. Here you can see the gown worn over a red kirtle.

 

1491, MEMLING, Hans, Passion (Greverade) Altarpiece (detail), Museum für Kunst- und Kulturgedichte, Lübeck

1491, MEMLING, Hans, Passion (Greverade) Altarpiece (detail), Museum für Kunst- und Kulturgedichte, Lübeck. A Flat fronted kirtle would give the smooth look seen of the fabric filling in the V of the gown

The Open Front Two Kirtle Theory

Similar to the open front kirtle and placket theory, this theory looks at the style of dress which consists of a wide-front kirtle but instead of theorising a placket covers the chemise under the laces this theory suggests the wide front kirtle is laced over another kirtle with a smooth front, perhaps one with side or back lacing

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I don’t have a reference for this image, but you can see there is a red kirtle with a wide front black kirtle laced over it and a black gown with a whit collar over that. The red kirtle could also be interpreted as a red placket under the black kirtle.

1475, MEMLING, Hans, The Donne Triptych, National Gallery, London detail4

1475, MEMLING, Hans, The Donne Triptych, National Gallery, London (detail) To the right one can see a young girl in the open laced style kirtle. The red showing under the laces goes quite low, suggesting it may be an underdress.

 

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I don’t have the reference for these pictures, but they are often interpreted as the lady on the left having her kirtle laced up over a red kirtle, and on the right wearing a gown over it all.

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Look carefully at the necklines here. You can see the black continue under the neckline of the blue kirtle, suggesting the blue kirtle is laced over a lack kirtle, not a placket.

1475-80, MEMLING, Hans, Lamentation, Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome detail

1475-80, MEMLING, Hans, Lamentation, Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome (detail)           This kirtle is not so wide at the front, but the black showing beneath is seen well into the gap in the skirt, suggesting it is a full under gown. The red sleeves show under the sleeves of the brown dress and may be pinned to the sleeves of the black kirtle.

 

 

1476, MINIATURIST, Flemish, Boethius, De consolatione philosophiae, Universitätsbibliothek, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena

1476, MINIATURIST, Flemish, Boethius, De consolatione philosophiae, Universitätsbibliothek, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena.                                      The juxtaposition of the open laced kirtles and the gowns makes it really easy to envision the gown over the open laced kirtle (laced either over a placket or gown)

1484, MEMLING, Hans, Triptych of the Family Moreel, Groeninge Museum, Bruges detail

1484, MEMLING, Hans, Triptych of the Family Moreel, Groeninge Museum, Bruges (detail) A slight segway to the wide open kirtle is the theory that rather than having a wide open front, the over-kirtle simply had a deeper neckline. Here you can see the black and gold brocade dress laced over what appears to be a sleevless or short-sleeved red kirtle (the longer red sleeves pin on). If one can imagine the lady wearing a v-neck gown over this ensemble then the red kirtle would fill in the neckline and the black and gold brocade would show when the hem was lifted.

 

1491, MEMLING, Hans, Passion (Greverade) Altarpiece (right wing), Museum für Kunst- und Kulturgedichte, Lübeck (detail)

1491, MEMLING, Hans, Passion (Greverade) Altarpiece (right wing), Museum für Kunst- und Kulturgedichte, Lübeck (detail). With the brocade dress kirtled uo you can see the red beneath is a full dress, not a placket.

1490s Boccace, De muileribus claris

1490s Boccace, De muileribus Claris. This image shows a wide laced blue kirtle being laced over what appears the be a black kirtle.

1524,  Jehan de Luc, Book of Hours

The date I have for this is 1524, but I still love this picture.

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I don’t have a reference for this image, but you can see there is a red kirtle with a wide front black kirtle laced over it and a black gown with a whit collar over that. The red kirtle could also be interpreted as a red placket under the black kirtle.

The Open Front Kirtle and Placket Theory

Throughout 15th century art you see a style of dress most commonly worn on younger women and girls. It is a fitted kirtle with a wide open front. According to this theory the chemise beneath the wide front lacing is covered up by a placket worn UNDER the kirtle, rather than over as with the placket theory. Thus, when the Burgundian gown is worn over the kirtle, the placket from under the kirtle shows at the neckline and the kirtle itself shows at the hem when the gown is lifted.

Some people have theorised that the wide fronted kirtle is simply a style for younger women and girls, this theory suggests that women of all ages would wear this dress however grown women were less likely to wear it without a gown over the top.

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Here you can clearly see a black placket under the red kirtle.

1476, MINIATURIST, Flemish, Boethius, De consolatione philosophiae, Universitätsbibliothek, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena

1476, MINIATURIST, Flemish, Boethius, De consolatione philosophiae, Universitätsbibliothek, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena.                                        The juxtaposition of the open laced kirtles and the gowns makes it really easy to envision the gown over the open laced kirtle (laced either over a placket or gown)

 

The Placket Theory

Once upon a time the placket theory was the theory that the Burgundian gown was worn directly over the chemise with the neckline being filled in by a placket. These days they placket theory is a little different. Sometimes when you look at paintings of this style of dress the hem of the under dress is a different colour to the fabric seen at the neckline. The placket theory these days describes a Placket of a different fabric pinned to the underdress, so that the underdress looks one colour at the neckline and another at the hem when lifted. This also gives the look of the smooth fronted underdress while enabling the wearer to wear a front laced kirtle under the gown.

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Here one can clearly see a placket under the gown.

 

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1460, Rogier Van der Weyden, Portrait of a Lady. If one looks at the neckline of this dress, the partlet appears to cover part of a kirtle. The layering here could be kirtle, partlet, placket, gown.

1495, Portrait of a Woman of the Hofer Family, Artist unknown.

1495: Portrait of a Woman of the Hofer Family, Artist unknown. Here you can see the red overlaps th black of the kirtle. The red fabric could be a placket pinned over the black kirtle.

1430-35, Rogier van der Weyden, The Descent from the Cross (detail)

1430-35, Rogier van der Weyden, The Descent from the Cross (detail). Front laced Kirtles are very popular in 15th century art, however one rarley sees front lacing under the gown, suggesting that they would pin a placket over their front laced kirtle before donning a gown.