The Realm of Venus Presents....
Emmachia Gustina Ruscelli
A Venetian Gown in the style of 1580
My name is Signora Emmachia Gustina Ruscelli and I am currently
residing in the Shire of Easaraigh in the magnificent Kingdom of
Meridies. Watch out ladies, I am a penny pincher, and I am going
to tell you how I do it.
Portrait of Livia Colonna by Paolo
Veronese, circa 1580
is my Carnival party dress, I only wear it once or twice
a year because it is very heavy. I have wanted a red and
black brocade fabric for years, and when I found this
fabric I was disappointed to find how heavy it was. It is
woven of black chenille velvet yarns and regular red
threads, but eighty-dollars later, I had to have it. I
think the design is stunning.
The dress was inspired by the portrait of Livia Colonna
by Paolo Veronese, seen at left.
[Bella's note: I have included two
other portraits of this style below]
It is lined in plain black cotton and
trimmed in stiff ribbons which have been trimmed with
half inch white bobbin laces. The ruff is a three inch
stiff ribbon also trimmed in white bobbin lace. It is
detachable with hook-and-eyes, and can be worn fastened
around the neck with my other clothing. I have two
chemises I wear with this gown, one in silk for warmer
weather, and one in linen for cooler weather.
Isabella Canossa by Paolo Veronese, circa 1547-48
Portrait of an Unknown Venetian
woman by Domenico Tintoretto
shown in my self portraits is made of silk, trimmed in
3/4 inch white bobbin lace and laced with a black ribbon.
The silk was purchased online for about two dollars a
yard. My courtesan compatriot Domenica Zorzi and I will
buy a whole bolt roll, make four or five chemises out of
it, keep one for our selves and then sell the rest. The
profit pays for our silk plus some, so our chemises are
The linen chemise is made from a large linen table cloth
that I was given by an elderly friend and a linen slip I
found at the Goodwill thrift store. The linen slip was
cut into two sleeves and sewn onto the linen tablecloth
body. The slip included the large 3 1/2 inch bobbin lace
trim which has butterflies in it and the tag said
"Made in Ireland". Because the slip was too
short for my arms, I put bobbin lace inserts into the
sleeves to make them long enough. I think I paid $3.99
plus tax for the whole thing.
I made a corset similar to the one shown in Janet Arnold's
"Patterns of Fashion" (page 113), except that the
straps are much thinner and the neck opening lower. I boned it
with white plastic cable ties from the hardware store, that way I
can throw it in a pillowcase and wash it in the washing machine.
It is made from heavy white linen scrap, the ugly flower pattern
kept to the inside. The outer layer is heavy white open-weave
A much larger image
of this pattern can be found here!
pattern I made myself, looking at Alcega's patterns for
reference. Because the front is open, I simply cut a
straight line from the side of the neck to the bottom of
the bodice portion. It has simple shoulder tabs, hiding
attachment points for the sleeves. Once the bodice was
lined, two tabs were added to the opening where grommets
were placed for lacing. Ribbon with lace was pleated then
hand sewn in between the shoulder tabs. The sleeves have
simple button holes in the top edge to accept the lacing.
ribbon around the stomacher was first pleated and sewn so
that the pleats were permanent. It was then sewn on one
side of the gown between the outer layer and the tab. The
rest of the pleated ribbon is attached to the gown with
hooks-and-eyes on the other side. This must be to get in
and out of the gown. The front split goes down into the
skirting. I think thinner ladies could probably have a
smaller split or none at all in their skirting, but alas,
we meatier ladies need that skirt split.
To wear the gown, one must wear a chemisette first (which
looks like a sleeveless chemise shirt) under the corset.
The long chemise is then worn over the corset, which
allows for the stomach area to look nice. Then the gown
is put on and all the lacing done. If done in this order,
only the chemisette and corset need to be washed
regularly. The outer gown will not touch any body oils
and can be dry cleaned when ever.
And to prove how much of a penny pincher I am, with the scraps
left over from the black and red, I made a strapless demi-corset
and sold it on eBay for $40.00. So my whole gown cost less than
$50.00. My next gown will be made from the gold and black brocade
shown in the background of the mannequin photos. I bought nearly
nine yards for $8.00 at the Goodwill. The fabric used to be
One of the things I love most about reproducing the clothing of
sixteenth century Venice is that it's not boring! There are quite
a few varying styles throughout the decades, and as far as my own
costuming goes, I've barely scratched the surface! This style is
a stunner - the femininity and sex appeal of the regular Venetian
ladder-laced style, with the added flair of the doublet bodice
style seen elsewhere in Italy. I just love it! Emmachia has done
a terrific job - the cut, colour and 'frills' are all very much
have the 'feel' of those worn by Livia. It is simply stunning!
You can visit Emmachia's web
site by clicking here.
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to be Showcased? E-mail