16 thoughts on “Top Five Ruffs in Frock Flicks

  1. I know you’re talking frock flicks, but my mind is on the term “head on a platter” ruff. Are those the same as cartwheels, or a different subspecies?

  2. I think that what that wired veil in Golden Age is channelling is this 1583 portrait of Elizabeth, just taken to ludicrous extremes. (In this portrait Elizabeth is portrayed as Tuccia, a Vestal Virgin who disproved an accusation of unchastity by carrying a sieve full of water from the Tiber River to the Temple of Vesta without spilling any. (You can see the sieve in her left hand.)

    1. I guess that would be this one, by Quentin Metsys the Younger:


      But while it does have a wired ruff in two sections behind the head and sheer veils coming down on either side over the sleeves, there’s a closed ruff and the gown is dark, simple and somber.

      A closer match is the so-called “Rainbow” portrait attributed variously to Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger and Isaac Oliver:


      This portrait has an ornate gown with an open ruff, with larger back pieces and sheer side veils, both edged with lace.

      And then there’s also this anonymous portrait, said to be done in 1592, in the gallery at Compton Verney House in Warwickshire:


      This one looks like it may be depicting a wired arrangement fairly close to the movie costume, but with wires even extending into the edge of the veils to hold them away from the sleeves on each side.

  3. I seem to think there was one in the Miniaturist. And of course the Girl with the Pearl Earring. Judy Parfit rocked in hers.

  4. For ruff lovers, I strongly recommend Peter Greenaway’s take on THE TEMPEST. With costumes designed by Ellen Lens and Emi Wada, PROSPERO’S BOOKS is a highly stylized take on historical iconography. The ruffs, in particular, are exaggerated to high heavens, reaching gigantic proportions. I love them so much!

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