Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Fifteenth Century Ladies' Headwear
During the 15th century, the hennin, a cone-shaped hat, became fashionable. They were worn primarily by royalty and upper-class women, in England, France, Burgundy (which was then a separate duchy and not part of France), and most of northern Europe. They never gained popularity in Italy.
The cones ranged in length from 12 inches to as long as 36 inches. The cones ended in a point, or sometimes a flattened end, from which a veil emerged. The veil cascaded over the lady’s shoulders, and sometimes, to the ground.
The hennins were usually worn at a backward tilted angle. Some paintings from the period show a forehead loop, probably attached to the hennin. It must have been used to pull the hat forward, or to hold it secure during a strong wind.
Hennin wearers frequently plucked their brows and the edge of the hairline, so that no hair escaped from beneath the hennin. Other paintings, though, show the hennin worn over long flowing hair. Illustrations of royalty show queens and princesses wearing crowns, either around the brim of the hennin, or at the top.
Hennins gradually lost their appeal, and were replaced by more wearable hats of the 16th century. What the 16th century hats lost in height, they more than made up for in elaborate design, as demonstrated in Renaissance art.