8/22/14 Men’s 15th C Italian Gonnellino   Leave a comment

Documentation for my first gonnellino, entered in open A&S at a couple faires in Meridies.

There are several variations of over jackets or over gowns used by 15th C men in the Florentine/Ferrara area. The young stylish men tended to favor shorter versions, with variations of sleeves (size, shape, slit open/enclosed, or none), skirt length (crotch to knee length), open/closed sides, necklines, and pleating options (where they start or none).

Photo by Jessi Moss.



Allegory of April: Triumph of Venus. 1476-84. Francesco Cossa. Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara

Allegory of March: Triumph of Minerva. 1476-84. Francesco Cossa. Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara



Procession of the Oldest King. 1459-60. Benozzo Gozzoli.  Chapel, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence.

Procession of the Oldest King.
1459-60. Benozzo Gozzoli.
Chapel, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence.

From the Italian word for “skirt”, the gonnellino is a stylish short-skirted over gown or jacket worn over the farsetto (doublet).  It may or may not have slit sleeves to show the farsetto sleeves. The neckline tends to be curved in front and “V” shaped in the back to show the high collar of the farsetto. The Florentine example shows a split in the back to facilitate riding. The Ferrara examples show buttons to just below the waist, with possible seam below that. I left mine open from waist down in front and back to facilitate riding.

Neck, cuffs and hem are edged with fur, open sleeves appear lined, possibly with fur (as mine are). I choose brown fur edging to hide dirt from working with dogs and horses. White appears to be the preferred fur trim color, although there is one Ferrara example with (leopard?) spotted fur. Buttons are the same color as the body fabric. Florentine example indicates patterned fabrics were used as well as solid color.

In period the outer fabric was most likely wool, with a fur lining. My outer fabric is man-made, so I lined with wool for warmth.


In production: the top and skirt not connected and the fur not applied.















The fitted body with full skirt of the Ferrara examples strongly suggests a seam connecting the two. My gonnellino has 8 skirt panels sewn to the body with slightly more than the 1:4 bodice waist to skirt hem minimum ratio that appears to be common for women’s gowns of this period. Although I think 8 panels are reasonable to prevent stretching of the fabric, I think each panel was a little too wide, giving me a bit more volume in the skirt than seen in the artwork.


Herald, J. (1981). Renaissance dress in Italy 1400-1500. The History of dress series, 2. London: Bell & Hyman.

GONNELLA (M). The fourteenth-century version of the veste or vestito, and in the fifteenth century, a relatively short form of gown worn by men. The gonnellino is a shorter version still, worn by younger men.

VESTE/VESTA. Either the term corresponds to the gonnella of the fourteenth century, in which case it is a man’s gown with sleeves, made from a variety of textiles; or it applies more generally to a suit of clothes.

VESTITO (M/F). A general term, particularly during the latter part of the century, for an overgown with sleeves, probably a heavier version of the veste. In the splendid trousseau of Bianca Maria Sforza in 1493, there was just one vestito; but it was an extremely precious embroidered one (di raso cremisino recamato) with a hem (bulzana) of embroidered raso turchino, and over the breast 80 little jewels with a ruby and four pearls in each one. Ludovico il Moro once gave 17-1/2 braccia of zetonino avvellutato morello to Messer Mariotto da Reggio, oratore, to get himself made a vestito and a zuppone (Malaguzzi Valeri, op.cit., p. 422).


Posted August 22, 2014 by studioloperyn in 15th c italian clothing, italy

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