The Realm of Venus Presents....

talian howcase

Gina Van Acker

SCA Participant, Canberra, Australia
A Venetian Gown in the style of the 1570s

Gina Says.....

I found the skirt in a op shop for $6. It was the left over detachable bustle skirt of a wedding dress, which had already been sold. I undid the waistband and found masses of fabric the right length (I'm 5' 7") and bought some matching heavy ivory de-lustered satin to make the sleeves and bodice ($18/m, bought three ms to be safe). The inspiration was the Coccina dress (Veronese, 1571 on your site) but I didn't like how the sleeves turned out, so I sacked them and invented some others that I had seen on other dresses but sorry, I can't remember where. I really think that they are more Elizabethan than Venetian but that is purely conjectural.

I drafted the pattern myself, closely following a pattern that another SCA costumer helped me with some time ago, modifying it slightly as the downwards point at the back makes my back ache and doesn't sit right on my bum. The bodice is steel-boned along the front opening to stiffen it and the lacing rings are a gold toned unknown metal, salvaged from cheap necklaces. I'm also wearing a corset with a long front and boned tabs, a full sleeved chemise and petticoats. I cartridge pleated the skirt in, basically because it was a LOT of fabric to gather and I pleat neater than I gather. I like the "poof" effect of cartridge pleating too and it's awfully hard to tell from portraits what they did, maybe they did both.

The sleeves tie into the same rings, hidden under tabs (slightly offset to match the portrait) and the ivory satin ribbons end in metal aglets and a pearl bead. The girdle is pearl and gold beads ending with a beaded tassel. Both were purchased at the post-Christmas decorations sale and reworked/restrung. (They caught on a chair at the end of the event and were broken and some were lost. I will be restringing it and using a stronger method) I put my hair up with a pearled comb in a simple tucked/rolled style as I haven't seen to much in the way of headdresses in Venice and I've been torturing myself growing my hair so I could!

What would I change: I would shorten the skirt - it is unmanageably long for an event, unless you are getting married. It would be a lovely Renaissance wedding dress. The hall was VERY crowded and it was inconvenient. I will be selling this dress as soon as I find someone who it fits as I have lost weight (and am trying to lose more!) and I don't play much now.

The Photos


Bella Says.....


This gown is a marvellous example of what can be done with a bit of forethought, luck, imagination and ingenuity. Forethought to check out the op shops first, luck to walk into one that had the right item at the right time, imagination to see the possibility in a discarded wedding dress bustle, and ingenuity in making something new from something old.

Gina accessorised the gown perfectly - the jewellry is classy and not overstated. The colour of the gown suits Gina's colouring well, and she has the stature to pull it off too! The trim is simple and elegant, and despite Gina's change of mind regarding the sleeves, they have the general 'feel' of the paned sleeves of the Eleonora de Toledo gown which, being at least Italian, if not Venetian, do not detract from the look of this Venetian-inspired gown.

Would you like to contact Gina? E-mail her .



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