Top 5 Wimples in Cinema History

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Those who know me know that I am way into wimples these days. They cover so many issues, framing the face so prettily… It’s a wonder they ever went out of style. So, in honor of my current obsession, I thought I’d take a few minutes to honor some of the best wimples to have graced the big screen.

1. Hamlet – Queen Gertrude (Glenn Close)

You may roll your eyes at the Mel Gibson vanity piece that was Zeffirelli’s Hamlet (1990), but the costumes were FAB. Chief among them was this ensemble worn by Queen Gertrude during the coronation of her second husband, Hamlet’s murderous uncle Claudius. There’s not one thing that I dislike about this entire outfit, despite the fact that I can count at least three separate historical eras represented on her head alone.

 

2. A Lion in Winter – Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn)

It may be hard for others to pick a favorite Katharine Hepburn role, but for me it’s a no brainer. Snarky, elegant, sarcastic Eleanor of Aquitaine in A Lion in Winter is hands down my fave. The wimple she rocks for a large portion of the film is not exactly historically accurate, but who cares? If Kate’s wearing it, it’s all good.

The Lion in Winter (1968) A Lion in Winter

 

3. Monty Python and the Holy Grail – Zoot

We’ve already covered the (surprisingly good) costumes in the beloved farcical aquatic ceremony re-imagining of King Arthur’s quest for the Holy Grail. Still, let’s focus on Zoot, the kinky chatelaine of Castle Anthrax, played by the unofficial seventh member of the Pythons, Carol Cleveland.

zoot

4. Braveheart – Princess Isabelle (Sophie Marceau)

Astonishingly, one of the only things that Braveheart got right was Sophie Marceau’s headgear as Princess Isabelle. You’d think with all the panné velvet and kilts, the last thing anyone involved in this movie would give a crap about was headgear, and yet, there they were: Wimples. Sophie Marceau proves that wimples aren’t just for old ladies and nuns — you can be young and hot and rock a wimple!

Sophie-Marceau-Braveheart-1997-2 Sophie-Marceau-Braveheart-1997 Braveheart - Sophie Marceau

5. Ivanhoe – Rebecca (Elizabeth Taylor)

This 1952 movie proves that a wimple can be both sexy AND glamorous. Providing you’re a 20-year-old Elizabeth Taylor.
ivanhoe1952_678x380_10302012105804

 

Got any other favorite films featuring wimples? Let ’em fly in the comments!

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About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Website

Sarah discovered her dual passion for history and costume right around the age of twelve. Dragged kicking and screaming to her first Renaissance Faire at Black Point, she was convinced she was going to hate it, but to her surprise, she fell head over heels in love with the world of reenactment and dress up immediately. When she’s not hauling crap to SCA events and ren faires, she enjoys the solitude of a long, hot bath. You can find her costuming trails and tribulations chronicled at Mode Historique.

32 Responses

  1. MoHub

    Hepburn’s had more to do with her wanting to cover her old-age turkey neck—she appeared almost exclusively in turtlenecks in more contemporary films—than historical accuracy. However, I worship The Lion in Winter and wish you’d do a feature on the whole film.

    Reply
    • Sarah Lorraine

      As someone with a weak chin, I cannot blame her. Wimples are the greatest thing ever.

      Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      Lion in Winter is SUCH a great movie! I’ve watched it a million times, & it never gets old. But it’s also one of those historical movies where it’s wonderful as a film but pretty ‘meh’ as a costume flick — there’s not a lot to say about the costumes themselves. So it’s hard to figure out a good angle for writing about it. Could happen, but takes some inspiration.

      Reply
    • Lady Hermina De Pagan

      That is rather funny. Because I’ve read several accounts that state Eleanor of Aquatine brought the babette and filette into fashion as a way to hide her own sagging neckline.

      Reply
  2. Deb Murphy Kerr

    Robin Hood (1991) starring Patrick Bergin is one of my favorite garb flicks. Uma Thurman rocks a mean wimple in that film.

    Reply
  3. Alessandra

    Google ‘Vision, das Leben der Hildegard von Bingen’
    The headwear is inaccurate for the period, but would be good about 250-300 years later :-)

    Reply
  4. Susan Pola

    What about Brother Sun Sister Moon. I believe that Claire wore wimple. Also Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet? The Nurse wears wimples.

    Reply
    • Wallis Wendy

      Sally Field’s wimple was designed so she could fly. The reality is as my mother pointed out the tips of the wimple would have pointed up towards god not down to the devil.

      Reply
  5. Susan Pola

    What about the Anglican nuns in Call the Midwife? They were an abbreviated one, don’t they?
    I’m trying not to think of Sister Bertrille (Sally in Flying Nun) *snorts*

    Reply
    • Wallis Wendy

      I love Call the Midwife, and their wimples. I commented on The Flying Nun wimple above.

      Reply
  6. Lady Hermina De Pagan

    While the movie made me cringe, I loved the wimples that Eileen Atkins as Eleanor wore in the 2010 Russell Crowe Robin Hood. They were just lovely. While this is not a “Frock Flick”, the wimple that Ruth Goodman wears in Tudor Monastery Farm. It apes the look of a gabled hood but is just lovely around the face. I am going to *attempt* this look at Pennsic War this year.

    Reply
  7. M.E. Lawrence

    Darling Sophie Marceau in quasi-medieval frocks–the only really enjoyable aspect of “Braveheart.” (Apart from Patrick McGoohan and his snarl.).

    Reply
  8. Chiara Offreduccio

    “The wimple was the most becoming wear ever invented for women.” – “In This House of Brede” by Rumer Godden.

    I think this post is focusing on wimples worn in non-religious garb. Religious habits can be the topic of many separate posts. I used to run a blog dedicated entirely to that subject; it hasn’t been updated for many years, but you can check it out at http://www.canticleofchiara.blogspot.com

    Two films covering the life of St. Francis (“Brother Sun, Sister Moon,” from 1977 and “Francis of Assisi” from 1963) feature St. Clare wearing wimples prior to her becoming a nun. Neither movie is by any means accurate, but might be interesting to at least watch.

    Reply
    • Sarah Lorraine

      Exactly. This post is only on non-religious examples of wilples. I thought about addressing nuns but that is such a deep rabbit hole that I decided to just keep it in the historical secular world to make my life easier!

      Thanks for the link to your website. I’ll definitely check it out!

      Reply
  9. Susan Pola

    Didn’t wimples show up in Pillars of the Earth? Seem to remember the evil lady with scar wearing one. Also Alison Pill’s Empress Matilda wears a terrific one.

    Reply
    • Sarah Lorraine

      I don’t remember Alison Pill wearing one, but I could be mistaken. I just watched the series a month or two ago, but my memory sucks. And yeah, Lady Reagan’s wimple, and the quasi-wimple thing that Aliena wears for her wedding (I think?) would also qualify, but neither of them really spoke to me enough to include here.

      Reply
  10. Orian Hutton

    Re: the comment on the 20 year-old Elizabeth Taylor in a wimple. I wore one at a village event a couple of years back and discovered that they are great for giving a (then) 62 year-old lady an easy face lift. Actually had a couple of the older gentlemen getting quite gallant!

    Reply
  11. Karla Hood

    “El CID”‘s Sophia Loren–stunning in a bias-cut wimple. Why I always encourage ladies to bias-fold a circle to hug the neck and chin.

    Reply
  12. viterbofangirl

    Call me old school, but I thought Olivia de Havilland had the most amazing wimples in The Adventures of Robin Hood. All that lovely but inaccurate chiffon floating about her face! It was actually a huge disappointment to me during that scene when Flynn visits her at night and she just has a braid.

    Reply

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