The Realm of Venus
Bernadette de Foix
A Venetian Gown in the style of the 1570s
Hello! I am an SCA member and costume historian. I've been making historical and fantasy clothing since 1996. I have participated as a merchant at both SCA events and Renaissance
How this dress came to be...
At one of the Faires I run a merchant booth. Each weekend has a particular theme--in this case it was the Romance of Venice and the Italian
masquerade. How could I refuse? The idea to make this came out of my love for the Vecellio woodcuts. I love the mood these gowns convey! So much fun in the "girly" accessories!
The dress needed to fit and "feel" right and it needed to be functional for a 10 hour plus day of working at Faire. The design and drafting of the pattern took one evening and the build took 2 more. Unbelievable the entire idea from paper to end product took less that 8 hours...that is until I decided I needed more :)
More accessories!! Sleeves, coats, pearls and
jewellery oh MY! Inspiration for stage two of the gown came after the day I wore
the gown to Faire. I started looking at pictures. The Bella
Nani and a variety of the Titian pictures from the 1560's were the
I borrowed liberally from a variety of
sources--sleeves from one source, jewellery and hair from another.
However it was the 1575 print of the Venetian Courtesan (See right,
second image from top)
and the Venetian Gentlewoman from Mores Italiae (See right, third
image from top) that tied
many of my ideas together.
What I'm wearing...
A linen-cotton blend camicia hand pleated with white work seam embroidery over a steel boned corset. A petticoat in a shot gold cotton (not
visible). The gown is three layers of denim with steel stays, the outer fabric a weighty woven tapestry, the lining a gold shot dupioni silk. The coat is made out of the
dupioni, lined in a cotton-linen. There is blackwork embroidery and trim adorning the coat.
I made the belt/girdle out of a variety of found items. It started as a glass bead necklace from the thrift store and I added more beads and twisted antique brass wire to connect everything. I had two fans, one a traditional flag fan, the other a feather fan. The partlet is an antique lace chapel veil that belonged to a family member. Now it has a new life! I currently have a veil, but not one good picture was taken with it!
I am overall very happy with this. I'd like to add a fancier petticoat, silk hose and a pair of
chopines. For now I'll just have fun!
Isn't this dreamy? I love the colours Bernadette has chosen - and don't they
suit her beautifully! The gown fits perfectly, and the accessories are the icing
on the cake. LOVE that fan! And to top it all off, what a gorgeous setting for a
photo shoot! Bernadette looks every inch the Venetian gentlewoman. Brava!
Would you like
to be Showcased? E-mail