A 1470s Turret Headdress from France

The full headdress consists of a fillet or band worn against the hair, a turret, a veil, and a frontlet pinned over the turret. Turrets begin to be worn in the late 1440s, but the frontlet appears in the 1470s. I particularly wanted to a make a frontlet that would replicate particular details that appear in paintings.

2 Responses

  1. Arianna of Wynthrope

    Beautiful, and excellent documentation!

    While costuming is not my specialty, I have never heard the term “turret” before, and all of the sources I have seen still call this style of headdress a hennin (though the wider rolled, horned etc. headdresses are apparently sometimes called “escoffion”). Do you have any sources other than the one book for that term? I tried to look at some of your other online sources, but I’d have to get a membership to see them.

    I’m also curious as to the mechanism for keeping the headdress in place. Some have claimed that a bun under the headdress could be used to hold it on, but your bun isn’t really big enough to provide much of an anchor. I’ve read conjectures that the loop was attached to the conical section to help keep it from falling off, but since you have the loop on the fillet, it seems like it would not really be that much help. Is the friction of the velvet fillet against the hair and the cone really enough to keep it secure? Have you had a chance to try wearing this headdress for a period of hours while moving around, to test how well it stays on?

    The silhouette looks perfect, and I’m impressed with how well the silk brocade fits around the buckram base. It’s a truly lovely piece of millenary.

  2. Ilaria

    Thank you. Regarding terminology, the only presently known usage of the term “hennin” comes from 1453 description of an event in 1428, when the preacher Thomas Conecte would harrass women wearing tall headdresses. To me this dating suggests “hennin” is best used for the horned headdresses of the second quarter of the 15th century, but of course the term could have been use for much longer, or it could have been retroactively applied.

    During the era of the pointed headdress, approximately the 1460s to 1490s, inventories and poems use terms like turret, mitre, chimney, and tall bonnet. Illuminating Fashion is a good reference book for these records which are otherwise pretty hard to access.

    Velvet does provide enough friction, and I have worn this for hours. It is secure as long as I don’t bump into anything! Considering how much women waxed and plucked their hairlines, their hair might have provided even less of an anchor. I think they must have used a variety of supports and techniques.

    Regarding the loop on the fillet, it is possible for it to be attached to the turret, but I have no direct evidence for that. There are plenty of images of women wearing turrets without loops, and scarcely any images of turrets on their own. There are however, multiple images of young women or girls wearing fillets with a loop, that clearly does not extend in any way to support a vertical headdress. I have two examples in my documentation, from the Saint Godelieve Altarpiece on page 2 and the Portinari Altarpiece on page 8.