I’m taking pictures as I go and should have a tutorial of some sort by next week at the latest, in case you want to jump on the headdress bandwagon of the sixteenth century. Meanwhile, let’s discuss the French hood just a bit.
The French hood is recognized by its rounded, crescent shape, compared to the roof-like angles of the English or gable hood. It has been called the mini-skirt of its day, as it shows off several inches of the wearer’s tresses along the hairline. Scandalous indeed! Tradition has it that the ever-fashionable Anne Boleyn introduced this variety of headdress to England upon her return from France. It’s lovely to think so, but period portraits show plenty of other English ladies sporting this style, even Katherine of Aragon. It was, however, Anne’s preferred style, and she certainly did help its popularity during her short reign.
The French hood consists of five parts: the coif, crepine, paste, veil (the actual ‘hood’), and billaments.
The coif was a simple linen cap worn as the base layer. It was usually white, though some examples of red coifs can be found. It was tied under the chin but may have also been pinned on, as evidence of chin ties is absent in some portraits, such as Anne’s. In fact, in Anne’s most famous portrait, one can’t see the coif at all. It usually peaks out on the sides in a curved fashion around the ears.
The crepine refers to the pleated linen or silk, usually white or gold, along the base of the hair. It is unsure as to whether this is actually attached to the coif or not.
The paste is the crescent one sees. It was made of rich fabrics of white, black, or one corresponding to the gown, placed over stiffened buckram and wire. It has been proposed, however, that it was actually far straighter in shape, the curve resulting from the piece piling against braided hair pinned at the crown of the head.
The veil is nearly always black wool, silk, velvet, or satin, reaching somewhere between the shoulder blades to the waist.
Billaments are simply the decorative elements. Metalwork, jewels, pearls: they range from the extravagant to the simple.
For Sarah Lorraine's amazing article on the construction of the French hood, go here. You won't be disappointed. If you are interested in purchasing a beautiful French hood, go to The Anne Boleyn Files. Gorgeous!
A Collection of French Hood Portraits
Anne of Brittany
Katherine of Aragon
Princess Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk
Princess Margaret Tudor
Elizabeth Seymour-Cromwell (sometimes Catherine Howard)