Pappafichi (Hunting Hoods)

True confession time, sometimes when I see accessories from different time periods, I feel envy. This week that envy was triggered by a friend’s gorgeous 14th-century hood. It got me thinking about what types of hoods might have been worn by the ladies of the Court in Florence.

This was not that easy. While sheer veils, hair nets, and hats were all the rage there isn’t much about hoods. Also, hooded ladies aren’t likely to be included in portraiture. There are paintings of processions in this time period where the ladies are clearly wearing short cloaks and hats but no hoods.

Enter the guardaroba of Eleonora di Toledo (again). Eleonora grew up in Naples where the ladies wore a type of hood called a Pappafico (plural pappafichi). The hood was akin to a wimple but with an extended skirt that went over the shoulders. The fabric on the bottom of the hood could also be pulled up to cover the face. Despite Eleonora’s gift for influencing fashion in Florence this item of clothing did not become widely popular. Eleonora’s guardaroba lists two of them, both of silk. Her pappafichi were also in muted earth-tones, brown and green which further indicates their use for hunting as she didn’t typically use these colors in her court apparel. It is possible that in Naples, from whence the style came they were made in other types of fabric but I could not find a source for the information as of this writing.

Still, cold was and remains real. So as I consider my life as a reenactor and the reality of outdoor, winter events I decided I should make a pair of pappafichi, one in silk and another in a light wool for colder days. But first, I need to to figure out a pattern. The only rendering I could find of this garment is in this woodcut of a German cursor from 1563.

German Cursor 1563 Woodcut

So that is definitely draped in front which could mean the seam runs over the top of the head. This seam placement would also allow for the more fitted line on the back of the neck. This one also seems to have a split on the side rather than an inserted gore. The length goes until the elbow or so. The decoration on the bottom edge may or may not have been part of the fashion in Naples and Florence. Interesting to see that he has paired it with a fur-lined beret with feather as these hats were popular in Florence and Eleonora had several. It makes me wonder if she wore her pappafico in a similar way which may have made her silk hood more than sufficient to the cold.

Armed with these observations, I decided to drape the garment onto myself and see what shape I got. This is the pattern I have come up with, again complete speculation at this point though an educated guess.

  • Observation: While there is no clear gore in the image above the shape requires either godets on either side or a gore. If the sides are to be open as it appears above right angle godets must be affixed to each side.
  • Question and conjecture: Were these always open on the sides? Possibly, but one of the most warming properties of a hood is the coverage of the shoulders. For this reason, and in light of the reality of having wind pick up those open edges as you walk about outdoors, I suspect that they were at least sometimes closed across the shoulder with a complete gore.
  • Question and conjecture: Should this be cut on the straight or on a bias as most wimples seem to be draped on the bias? I tried it both ways. The bias cut wastes quite a bit more fabric and it doesn’t actually create a significantly different shape so I decide to proceed on the straight-grain.
  • Question and conjecture: What if the pattern is more a tube with an angled skirt with seams on each side? This pattern works in terms of appearance but the function is a bit off. The idea of a pappafico being pulled up to cover the face does not work as well with the tube. Perhaps if this was cut on the bias but the would also open up the seam edge to stretching over time. I made a quick linen version using this conjecture. Either or neither may actually be correct. In the end the first conjecture is more comfortable to wear and more flattering I think, but I think the second follows the lines in the woodcut more closely.

Having conjectured a couple of possible patterns, and having already created a linen version of the second, I moved on to my two pappafichi. Since I do not intend to use this specifically for hunting and given the heraldic colors of my current existence I am making one of gold (yellow) silk and another of blue wool. I have not yet decided whether I will use the first or second pattern conjecture. I will update this post with process pictures as I get into that part of the project.

Conjecture 2

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