Veil, Goffered, 14th C

The distinctive and striking headdress worn by women in the middle of the 14th century seem to have been composed of layers of veiling with crimped edges which frame the face. This particular type of elaborate veil can be found in English paintings and tomb effigies from about the middle of the century, and although they do not appear to have been worn in Italy or France, they were certainly worn in the Netherlands, Bohemia and Hungary as they are found in a considerable number of paintings and sculpture.

Worn by royal ladies as well as by those of the middle class, the head-dress consisted of a number of layers of veiling (almost certainly of fine linen) the edge or selvedge of which was woven in such a way as to produce a narrow quilling or frill. Surrounding the face, these frills superimposed on each other look thick and bulky but not, because of their fine texture, heavy. Regional elaborations or modifications of this fashion did exist but on the whole they looked much the same wherever they were worn.

The technique of weaving extra threads into the selvage to produce a frill is an old one, and became immensely popular as veil edging towards the end of the 13th C. . Earlier styles use the technique to produce an edge on single veils;  by the middle of the 14th C. the style required several layers. This type of frilling continued to be used as an edging in simple single veils throughout the 15th C. even in Italy,  while veils in multiple layers continued to be worn in the north of Europe.

The head of a woman which forms a corbel at St. Mary’s in Bury St. Edmunds shows the layered frilled veil worn in the very rectangularly shaped English fashion. No hair can be seen under the headdress, but it can be seen that the complexity lay not only in the veils themselves but also in the sometimes unseen under-caps or other devices needed to give them their distinctive shape. 

In a the missal of Louis de Male, c. 1350, the much simpler form of headdress typical of south Netherlandish fashion can be seen.  Worn over net-covered cornettes which jut aggressively forward on either cheek, the layers of the veil with their frilled edges pass over the head and fall down to the shoulders on either side of the face in a very curved shape. The rounded form is again seen on the tomb effigy of the wife of Christopher II of Denmark. The same style of veiling and hairdressing (minus the net)  can be seen in The Gathering of the Apostles and the Neighbours; Chalgrove, Oxfordshire The description in the catalogue dates this painting also to c.1350 

It may be noted that the garments listed in Danish, Netherlandish and Bohemian inventories  bear on the whole the same name as those worn elsewhere. The appearance of shared garment names in documents in countries which might be thought of as far from the centres of fashion is an indication of the comparatively international nature of 14th C. fashion. Crimped or goffered veils appear on many mid-14th C. Scandinavian tombs; for these reasons, a goffered veil is an appropriate choice for wear with the Herjolfsnes gown G38.

As we have not been able to source fabric woven in the historical method, we recreate the look by the application of a discretely finished and applied ruffled edge to fine linen fabric.

Approx 36" X 22", veil pins sold separately.

Materials and construction: Fine Ivory linen. Ruffled edge frill applied to veil body.


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  • Model: BSD-WHW-13
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This product was added to our catalog on Friday 17 October, 2008.