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Fashions of the Tudor Era - The Escoffion

Updated on October 23, 2012
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Laura has had a lifetime interest in history - especially the people and the fashions! She specialises in monarchical history.

Mary, Queen of Scots wearing an Escoffion
Mary, Queen of Scots wearing an Escoffion
Elizabeth Woodville wearing the Hennin, perhaps a predecessor of the Escoffion
Elizabeth Woodville wearing the Hennin, perhaps a predecessor of the Escoffion
Marguerite de Valois wearing an Escoffion
Marguerite de Valois wearing an Escoffion
Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of France
Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of France
Queen Elizabeth I of England by Nicholas Hilliard.
Queen Elizabeth I of England by Nicholas Hilliard.

The Escoffion was a style of headdress that became largely popular in France in the mid-sixteenth century. It was a style of hood that was oval-shape and sat at the back of the head, therefore showing off a decent amount of hair.

It may be possible that the Escoffion was a developed version of the Hennin, a popular style of headdress in the Medieval period. The hennin is featured in the second image, worn by Queen Elizabeth Woodville (c.1470s) and appears to be an early version of the escoffion. The hair has been pulled back into the headdress and it sits on the back of the head, as opposed to covering the ears and most of the head. The main difference between this hennin and the escoffion, is, apart from size, the fact that there is also a veil surrounding the hennin.

In the first image, Mary, Queen of Scots is wearing the escoffion during her brief adult rule in Scotland in the 1560s. Her escoffion is simple, and there are pearls both on the borders and in the middle. The front of her hair has been brushed out slightly, though the rest has been pulled back, coiled and covered by a caul, before the escoffion has been put in place.

The third image shows Marguerite de Valois wearing a more elaborate escoffion. There is a decorated band of gold at the front and keeps the escoffion secure on the head. A string of small pearls serves as the border for the front of the escoffion, and is interlinked with another strand of pearls that is attached to the front band and appears to decorate the hair, which appears to be directly beneath the pearls. As with the image of Mary, Queen of Scots, the hair is brushed out slightly at the front before it is pulled to the back of the head. The material of the escoffion is striped red, and the back of the escoffion is bordered with gold and jewels, to match the front band.

The fourth image depicts Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of France, wearing the escoffion. Hers differs slightly from the previous image with the pearls going around the edge of the back of the escoffion as opposed to being straight. The band of gold and jewels sits again at the front and presses the escoffion to the head.

Queen Elizabeth I of England wears the escoffion in a miniature dated 1572. This escoffion shows small amounts of white material, which is unusual in comparison to the other headdresses featured in this article. The escoffion is also bigger than the previous examples, and features a great deal of jewels at the front. There is also a small jewel at the top of the forehead, which may have helped secure the escoffion to the head. The hair of Queen Elizabeth has been rolled back into the escoffion, and is coiled and covered with a caul, as with the other examples.

The escoffion as shown in this article was worn for a time in England, France, Scotland and Spain. It would become smaller and would cover a knob of hair at the back of the head. As with many fashions, the once-popular escoffion vanished into obscurity before the end of the end of the sixteenth century.


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