The Spanish Burgundian Gown

After Mistress Sylvie mentioned that my avoiding heat stroke dress looked like a Burgundian gown, I started doing some poking around at the idea of that style being taken up in Spain.  I wasn’t super familiar with the Burgundian or “flared gown” as a concept but I found myself quite taken with it– it’s very feminine and elegant.

Screenshot 2018-08-31 19.00.44

If you’re not familiar with the style, here’s a prototypical Burgundian gown.  A couple of key features include the v-neck, it’s worn almost always with a belt, and has a wide collar and turned back cuffs.  These are usually fur (thanks little ice age!). It’s worn over another dress that shows beneath the deep neck.  Oh! And the interesting array of headgear.  This is the time period that the hennin, or pointy princess hat, actually comes from.

Now elements of this show up in Spanish paintings, interestingly a little later than the Burgundian gown’s height in the mid to late 15th century.  The most obvious is this:

salome in herod's palace 1483

If this looks familiar it’s probably because I used it as a source for my avoiding heatstroke dress.  I wasn’t thinking about this at the time but this really does look like a Burgundian gown.  Belt– check.  V-neck– check.  Worn as an overgown– check.  No collar, and no cuffs, but I have a theory about that.  They’re even wearing truncated hennins, albeit with a Moorish-inspired rollo around the base!

You see a few more gowns like this scattered across Spanish art of the 1480s-1500s.  There’s a fair bit more variation than you see in French art, which makes me uncertain as to whether this was actually a style, or just a few different things that look kind of similar.

salome st john the baptist 1500
Salome with the head of St John the Baptist, Hispano-Flemish school, 1500

OK, so this one doesn’t have sleeves, but it’s a belted overgown.  It could be a tabard but it doesn’t look like it is split at the sides, and we’re in the period where the saya verdugado is transitioning to an undergarment, so maybe?

Figure of Isabel I of Castile, 1497

Probably the most classic example after the first inspiration piece, although the sleeves are quite loose.

berruguete la verificacion del cruz 1470
Pedro Berruguete La Verificacion del Cruz de Cristo 1470

This painting is a little interesting on the front figure’s right sleeve but it looks like she has large hanging sleeves.  Still, v-neck, undergown, belt.  Check.  You don’t see the fur collars and cuffs on any of these but my take is that Spain is a fair bit warmer than places further north so maybe the fur wasn’t so needed.  Certainly makes my life easier (and cheaper).

Take this with a grain of salt– two of these are painted by the same artist (who hilariously very obviously used the same model and outfit from the Verificacion del Cruz in another painting….), and there aren’t enough examples of this for me to say “THIS WAS A THING” like, say, the tranzado and cofia.  It seems to have existed and there was a fair bit of interaction between Spain and Northern France (as evidenced by painters named things like “Juan de Burgunya” and “Juan de Flandres”) so why wouldn’t fashion move back and forth?

I’ve decided that I don’t care that much, I have some examples and that’s enough for me.  I also found this:


Yes, it’s a home fabric, and yes, I know everyone says not to use those for costuming even though it’s the only place with patterns that look right.  That being said it’s 82% silk 18% rayon damask velvet, so it’s not nasty.  It’s a drapery weight so it has a good flow and isn’t backed with anything weird.  The gold metallic paint bothered me a bit but then I remembered the number of people in the SCA who wear fabrics that have been stamped with gold metallic fabric paint and decided it would be fine.  The pile is pretty short which I prefer in a velvet, and I think it will be a lovely gown.

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