I’ve been thinking about this post for a really long time, but with the 2018 Met Gala bringing armor fashion into the spotlight, I thought maybe it was finally time to write it.
So! Women in armor.
Everyone’s seen paintings or movies or book covers that have women in armor. And (unless it’s modern military body-armor) there’s always discussion of whether it’s realistic, and whether that matters. Maybe it doesn’t matter; it’s hard for female armor designs to be anything but fantasy, since we have no confidently identified historical artifact evidence to back up any claim.
But… Modern depictions of women in armor, however historically they’re founded, are modern fantasies about what women’s armor was like. And a lot of the well-known images of women in armor from before the 20th century are still from the modern or early modern period– 18th and 19th century imaginings of 13th and 15th century heroes.
Which leaves me with a very fun question: how does an artist of the medieval period– someone for whom armor is not a romantic distant cultural memory– imagine fantasy armor for women?