The Realm of Venus Presents....


talian howcase


A Florentine Gown in the style of 1506

Note from Bella: Anéa is stepping in at the last minute for the costumer who booked for this month and whom I have been unable to reach.

 A big Thank You to Anéa for being so incredibly helpful!


Anéa Says...


The Orange and Blue Maddalena Doni Portrait by Raphael

I chose to recreate this portrait for several reasons. Number one is that it's so lovely to have costumes one can put one oneself - front closing is underrated. Reason number two is that the Maddalena Doni dress has some wicked colours included, colours which my modern "sense of harmony" is totally fascinated with. The copy I have of the portrait (featured in a Raphael book) shows a tad stronger colours than what 've seen online, and that is what I wanted to recreate.

I suspect the original was made of a watery silk fabric, but I choose a flamboyant orange viscose velvet.

 Portrait of Maddalena Doni by Raphael



Close-up of ties

 The sleeves are made of a symmetrical sky/royal blue cotton brocade, which is also pretty close to the portrait. But the sleeves are also lined with an orange/brown silk which makes the sleeves reversible. The brown colours are also used in the ribbons used to tie the sleeves to the bodice. (PS - can send you pictures of the orange side, if you' like) The bodice and skirt is trimmed with blue velvet ribbons. For the bodice, I used a very broad ribbon, while two different ones was used at the skirt.

   Sleeves worn with reverse side showing

The top of the skirt is not too viewable in the portrait, so I was a little in doubt on how to pleat it. But eventually, I choose box pleats, as seen in the Raphael portrait "Lady with Unicorn". I got to see that portrait up close at an exhibition in Oslo, and that was quite an inspiration!

The front of the bodice has eyelets which I more or less made myself. I had never thought I would find something even remotely similar to the portrait - and I didn't . Not when looking for eyelets, anyway. But one day, I stumbled across some copper/golden buttons which had a perfect pattern. I bought two and went hope to experiment. After some trying and failing, I had managed to squeeze them flat without ruining the nice pattern, and then pierce them. So I bought 14 more of them (two in spare, just in case) and did the same to them. And it worked! The look nice, and very much like the portrait. Of course, I had to attach them ON TOP of regular lacing holes, but they're bloody decorative. :) First time I wore the Raphael outfit, I realized they were sharp as knifes, though - they kept cutting the cord I had laced the bodice with. Not too cool. But that was solved by using a manicure file...

Close-up of eyelets

As for now, I use a cotton/linen chemise underneath. The sleeves are not really wide enough, but it works fine. Will make a new linen chemise eventually, though.


  The very last picture shows the hemp boning of the bodice. It is, as most probably knows, something Jennifer Thompson (Festive Attyre) tried out for one of her dresses, and I love her Florentine outfit. I tried it for my own gown, and it worked like a dream. The bodice is a tad heavy, but I think that is because I used a very thick hemp cord - a thinner one would have provided a lighter result, methinks....

I'm very happy with the final result. There are, as always, things I would have done different now. For example a tad more sloping shoulder straps. Or a skirt with a tad more train. But overall, this costume makes me so happy each time I see it. It's a "vitamin bomb" in my costume closet, and I can't wait to wear it again.


Bella Says.....

Isn't this truly an amazing recreation of a portrait gown? The attention to detail that Anéa demonstrates really sets this outfit apart from the rest. Colour, cut and embellishment are all perfect! Bravissima Anéa!

You can contact Anéa at operafantomet (at) hotmail (dot) com. If you would like to read more about Anea's Raphael gown, click here. You can find her main website here.

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(Copyright Information: As author I, Anabella Wake, known in the SCA as Bella Lucia da Verona, hold copyright on all information on these pages. In addition I hold copyright on all images of clothing/costume that I have made. You are allowed to make one facsimile copy for your own use provided that this notice is included on each page. Please ask permission to copy, disseminate and/or distribute my work - I would like to know when and how you are finding this information of use.)