When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root
And bathed each vein with liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;
When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath,
Quickened again, in every holt and heath,
The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun
Into the Ram one half his course has run,
And many little birds make melody
That sleep through all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)-
Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage,
And palmers to go seeking out strange strands,
To distant shrines well known in sundry lands.
Spring/Summer 1392 has arrived, and you know what that means: it’s pilgrimage season! Chaucer’s storytellers are on the road to Canterbury, and they’re giving us sneak previews of all this year’s hottest styles. The Ellesmere Manuscript has laid out the lookbook, and we’ve ranked the five best— and five worst— outfits so that you can keep up-to-date on what’s what in Medieval English fashion. Check it out:
5th Place: That flower crown feels so prescient, but what really catch the eye are the crimson thigh-highs the Summoner is working. His navy puffy shirt (a Seinfeld reference, perhaps?) goes with them perfectly! He offsets his totally unified look with a gorgeous crochet fanny pack that would make any grandma jealous.
4th Place: The Merchant took a big risk with such a bold print, but it totally paid off! I have a feeling florals will be big for S/S 1392. He’s angled his hat perfectly to create movement and flow in his look.
3rd Place: Twinks everywhere, take notes. The Squire’s perfectly embellished tunic hits just the right line on his peekaboo cutout leggings, so these pieces really show off his best features. And that cape flowing behind him exudes majesty! Topped off with the tallest blue hat in England, this look is impossible to ignore. Keep an eye on this one.
2nd Place: Is her full-length dark robe an allusion to Harry Potter’s famous invisibility cloak? or is the Prioress out here inventing goth culture on her pilgrimage? Either way, we’re totally on board. It’s hard to make black on black work for Spring, but like she does every season, the Prioress has found a way.
1st Place: Can you say HAT? The spring sunshine is no plight for the Wife of Bath, who’s sitting pretty in the shade of that beautiful brim. This belted tunic gives the look an effortless shape. And that skirt looks so comfy! Whether you’re on your way to the grocery store or to Canterbury, this outfit can work for you. Each gorgeous piece is a total standout!
Honorable Mention: This guy put the royal in royal blue with this coordinating cape-and-bridle. The Nun’s Priest knows that even horses deserve to ride in style. (And we’re loving that French allusion with the red beret!)
Fifth Place: The Shipman’s collar is working in his favor, but that dark, bland tunic isn’t doing him any favors. It’s a pilgrimage, not a funeral! Even his horse looks tired.
Fourth Place: He’s on the right track with color, but the Parson’s robe is totally shapeless! You’ve got the body, show it off!
Third Place: Using a book as an accessory? Talk about pretentious. Who cares how smart the Clerk of Oxford is when he’s wearing the clothing equivalent of a tent. A little too Project Runway.
Second Place: His shawl may be enviable, but the Miller’s back-to-basics look doesn’t quite take it there alongside the intricate flamboyance of his contemporaries. Yawn!
First Place: No offense, but the Knight should have left pleats back in the 13th century where they belong. Those gloves, though classy, don’t quite bring this look up to date. Swing and a miss.
Honorable Mention: He might not be bringing it on the fashion front, but we’re paying Chaucer to write, not to dress well. You get a pass, Geoff.
We’ve seen it all: chic hats and outdated pleats, bright prints and bleak solids, thigh-high boots and quirky accessories. All in all, it’s safe to say Canterbury Fashion Week has been a success. Rumor has it the Wife of Bath has her own clothing line in the works… let’s just say we’re keeping an eye on the Target maternity section. 😉
Happy pilgrimage! We’ll see you in the fall when everyone releases their plague lookbooks!