Realm of Venus Presents....
A Florentine Gown in the style of the 1540s
bodice became smaller while hanging in my closet..."
A little about me: Ive never been a talented seamstress.
Im not saying this because Im coquettish or shy
its a fact. The actual seamwork in my gowns are not
very professional and a little sloppy. What I AM good at, on the
other hand, is to figure out how things are constructed, or how
things can be made. If I could choose, I would rather BUY gowns
than make them myself, but whats a poor gal to do? I also
like the everlasting hunt for JUST the right fabric, ribbon,
colour or fact when Im working on a project. Then Im
like a blood hound
:D Also, seeing the results on some of
my projects, I see that theres point in continuing making
costumes, and it gives me inspiration to start on a new (and even
more advanced) project. So far, my main interest have been
Italian Renaissance, but I'm also quite obsessed with the
costumes from "Phantom of the Opera". :)
THE Pink BRONZINO GOWN
This gown was the first "real" historical outfit I
made. The first version was finished around 1997, and was meant
to be a replica of a costume from the musical "Which
Witch". The bodice was quite a disaster, but the sleeves and
skirt worked so I started making a new bodice. I still
tried to make a replica of the WW gown, but somewhere along the
road, I realized I preferred the portrait of which the costume
was based on Bronzinos "Lucretia
Biggest difference between the portrait and the WW costume, is
the sleeves. Where the WW costume have two layered sleeves (a
burgundy sleeve with chemise visible through slashes), the
portrait consists of THREE layers a plum upper layer with
a stripy undersleeve, and under there a chemise. This meant I had
to make a whole new pair of sleeves.
First version of gown, but unfinished
(especially the waist and shoulders)
Detail of the portrait
The striped undersleeve before adding the plum sleeve.
Nice bathrobe, eh?
Another difference was the bodice my second version was
rather straight in the neck lining and with a very pointed front.
The Bronzino bodice is more cone shaped, with a curved neck
opening, and not pointed in the front. By this time, I had
decided to copy the portrait rather than the WW gown, but alas!
The bodice was too short to make it exactly as in the portrait.
But I managed to make a nice curved neck opening, and I made the
bodice less pointed. I also made the shoulder straps sit further
out on the shoulder, gining a bigger neck lining.
The second version was finished around 2002, and I liked it very
much. The new sleeves turned out to be very successful, and the
new bodice were WAY better than the first version. I also
repleated the skirt, but it dont look to different from the
Second version of the dress
The story could have stopped here. But
to think that the bodice became smaller while hanging in my
closet. But its probably not as likely as the true story
I gained some weight. So the bodice became to small, and I
could no longer wear the gown as it were I had to enlarge
the bodice. And while doing to, I did a third re-modelling of the
gown, to make it look EVEN more like the portrait. The bodice
were made longer using some scrap pieces of fabric, and enlarged
in the sides. I also added a piped edge to the neck lining,
inspired by the Bronzino painting. The skirt were also repleated
once again to acheive thick and full pleats. I also did some
minor work on the sleeves (shorten and narrowing them a tad), but
its not really that visible. More visible is the re-puffing
of the puffed sleeves, and it gave the gown a little lift.
Im also working on a partlet and a girdle (rather similar
to the portrait) and I am very sorry I didnt get to
finish this in time to add to this site.
Third version. VERY wrong
light, but I love the effect of the picture. It also
shows details of the gown better than any other picture
The aglets and sleeves of
the third version
Version three. Don't mind
fuzzy the details, it was a late night photosession...
Some technical facts about
The bodice and puffed sleeves are made of a wonderful antique
pink thai silk. The colour is absolutely identical to the skirt
(which was kept from the first version), but as the skirt is made
of long fibred cotton, and the rest of silk, they behave slightly
different in light. Still, you have to stand very close to tell
them apart. The bodice is made out of five pieces one
front, two side pieces and two back pieces. The side pieces make
it easier to adjust the size, and I was VERY happy I added them
when re-doing the bodice. The neck lining is piped, as written
above, and its closed in the back by five metal hooks and
The skirt is, as written above, made of cotton. It is fully
lined, and closed in the back by two snap buttons. Its
cartridge pleated, and the pleats are rather full and thick.
The main sleeves are made of two parts: upper layer is of plum
cotton velvet which is slashed both in front and behind.
Underneath, black silk sleeves trimmed with golden ribbons are
viewable. They are made of a gorgeous opaque black silk, with
several rows of golden ribbons sewn on. These striped sleeves are
viewable through the slashes. Where the back and front slashes
are almost connected, a golden/black ribbon forming small tassles
are attached, and the bows have some filagree aglets. I wrote
earlier that the sleeves almost makes the gown. I really mean it!
The colours looked so odd when I just saw the fabrics together,
and I really feared the result would be garish. Plum, black, gold
and white are NOT colours Id normally use together
But they really gave the gown an authentic look, simply because
theyre not so MATCHY as we like it today.
The puffed sleeves are hard to explain without adding some
drawings, but briefly explained, I used a standard sleeve
pattern, making it MUCH shorter and wider. They were lined with a
white cotton fabric, and a string gathers the fabric in two
places. I hope that make sense
.. They are, as mentioned
above, made of the same thai silk as the bodice.
must also add a little about the jewellery. I worked at a store
selling mens clothes for two and a half years. Next door, there
was a small shop selling womens clothes, and since my sister
worked there, I stepped by quite often. But it took me half a
year to see a wonderful necklace they had, which were amazingly
similar to the Bronzino portrait. When I finally SAW it, I almost
freaked out! It is really, really beautiful, and unless I had
paid someone to copy the portait, I couldnt have gotten
anything as similar. Ive since made a pearl necklace out of
some 10mm frosted pearls and attached the pendant. The other
jewellery will have to wait until Im rich
wears a lovely golden necklace with plated with inscriptions
saying "Amour Dure Sans Fin" Love lasts
eternally. Its assumed to be a gift from her husband, whose
family were French. I really want ot make a copy one day.
Im also working on a girdle similar to the portrait.
For shoes, I use some black "chinese shoes" made of
silk. They are slightly resemblant to Mary Jane shoes, with a
rounded tip, and a closing strap crossing in front. If not
totally historical correct, they reminds of stuff Ive seen
A last thing I want to tell about the outfit, is that most of it
is sewn by hand
Basically because I feel I have better
control then, but also pecause parts of it were made when I
didnt have a sewing machine. Only thing Ive made
machine stitchings on, is the long seams in the bodice (feels
more secure), and the golden ribbons on the black undersleeves.
Rest is by hand. Thats the result when the sewing knowledge
Side view of the gown, with
Back view of the gown, with
DROOOOOOOOOOLLLL. Ok, I have to
admit it, I love pink. I didn't used to be such a fan of the
colour, but lately I just droooool whenever I see pink used
well...and boy, has this pink fabric been used well! And what a
bold, courageous move (whatever the motivating factor) to combine
a silk bodice/sleeves with a cotton skirt! Another great tip for
costuming on a budget, no? Besides, it WORKS. So well. I am truly
inspired to use my pink velvet now, just as I was a few months
ago when I first saw this gorgeous creation. "Pretty in
pink" has never been more apt.
You can contact Anéa at operafantomet (at)
hotmail (dot) com. If you would like to
read more about Anea's pink gown, click here. You can find her main website here.
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