The Realm of Venus
Reno, Nevada, USA
A Venetian Gown in
the Style of 1510-40
Hello! My name is Jen Cicero,
more widely known through the No. CA Ren Faires as Jezabel. This will be my fourth year participating
in Faire and my favorite part has always, is, and will always be the costuming.
I have been making costumes forever, mainly because of my love for theater and production. About
four years ago I got hoodwinked into doing a small play, with a few friends from one of my theater
classes, for various Ren Faires. I was sceptical at first but the second they told me I had to
make my costumes I was all for it. I think I had been to all of 3 actual faires and had 4 and 1/2
working costumes, (one that had LOR hand embroidery all over it as the product of a very dull
weekend and a Lord of the Rings Marathon). It has been only recently that I have
actually been making Italian style clothing, since most of my costumes in the beginning
were all English peasantry. What I love so much about the Italian style, besides the pretty lines and beautiful patterns, is the fact
that there are SO many great movies that have actueal Italian costuming to look at!
If any of you know me you will know that I RAVE and DROOL over the Dangerous Beauty movie, I have had a long
time affaire with this movie (mainly the costuming, but the story is good too).
My affaire with this movie started in the year 2001 when I knocked it off the shelf at Sam
Goodies and thought it might be interesting to watch, little did I know I was opening a door to another
world that would never be able to be shut. That night was the night I fell in love with a dress.
Yes MY dress. There was something about the term "easy off dress" that made it even more
seductive, and it was then that I decided I had to have it.
Now it took me about 5 years to get to the point where I actually had a reason for spending the
un-godly amount of money to make this dress, but when I did man did I move faster than a guy on
So having the EXACT design that I wanted I decided to take a trip to Mecca aka
the LA Garment District to look for just the right material. After walking through shops all day and turning down
every ugly poly blend puke color fabric that was thrust at me I finally made my way back to a silk
shop I obviously didn't spend much time in in the first place. It was then that I found my fabric,
11 yards of black silk, 5 yards of red/ black cross dyed dupioni silk, 5 yards of ivory china
silk, and 1 yard of yummy yummy gold spun lace! I was in heaven as was the shop owner who kept
insisting, " I'a no like'a money, I like'a people!" So with that being the case I used the upper hand to
get a discount further on all my stuff, the upper hand being BIG brown eyes and
pouty lower lip and man did it work.
I went home and studied the dress looking at every detail. I finally decided I had enough
information to start the production of the garment.
I first started with the skirt. I found the easiest way was to take the silk and cut off one
yard out of the black and set it aside for the bodice. When that was done I measured from where I
wanted the bodice to end to the length I wanted it to be to hit the floor and what do you know it was
45 inches! YEA one less thing to surge! So i lined the silk with a light weight black
cotton and continued to add the bottom stripes of red by cutting strips of the red dupioni that I had bought
for the sleeves. Next was to add the two red panels to the front opening of the dress, which I did
by cutting more of the red silk and trimming it with a regular black braid along the same lines of
the red strips on the black. The only other thing I added to the skirt was 3 small ties along the
front opening so that I can have the dress closed for faires like San Francisco, opened for air
circulation at SLO and if we ever have a Discovery Park again this is the easiest dress to rip off,
leave in a pile and race into the wet T- shirt contest so that you don't die of heat
The next task at hand was making the bodice. I used the regular old T-shirt and duct tape
approach. After having my pattern I cut 2 copies from some plain canvas I had laying around. Next I
sewed in the channels for the boning (duct tape covered hacksaw blades, they work quite well)
followed by cutting and sewing together the black cotton lining and the canvas. With that said and done I
cut the pieces out of the black silk and marked out where the trim needed to be placed so that it
was able to line up evenly on the skirt.
Now the trim presented a bit of a problem because take it from me one can NOT find the exact
trim they used in the movie. It is almost mythical because everyone claims to have seen it somewhere
but it is nowhere to be found. So disappointed I settled for using a black lace 3 inch trim as a
base then cutting the shape out of strips of a gold trim to get the design I wanted. After this
was done and sewn together I proceeded to attach black pearls to the trim to give it a little extra
something and it turned out quit nice. I then laid out and sewed the trim to the black silk for
the bodice on both sides, then attached the canvas piece to the black silk, adding the ties
in-between the layers, so that I had a full bodice to try on, and it fit fine so I took a nap then
Next on the list was to make the sleeves which I like the tube approach. I figured out how wide I
wanted/ needed to have the sleeves be with the puffiness, then cut a straight line adding line 10
inches to my arm length for Extra puffiness ( I feel like Anne of Green Gables lol).
Next I added the black and gold trim that I found somewhere? - cant remember.
And on that note I threaded through a small piece of ribbon under each cuff to be able to tighten the puffs, then sewed down the center
to make it into a sleeve. Now lather, rinse, repeat and you have two! yea! then attach to bodice
and you are almost done!
Now let me say I HATE cartridge pleating but there is no other way to sew 9 yards of fabric into
a 28 inch waistband, so I set to the task and amused myself by watching every Muppet movie I own.
Finally after 3 days of procrastinating it was done. so I attached the skirt into the bodice,
sewed down the top and attached the trim to the front of the skirt, and yea I was done....with
The last and easiest thing to make was the shift which I used a basic shift pattern that
falls to the floor, added poofy sleeves, and attached the lace as the shoulder pieces and made a V down the front with it.
Very nice pretty and simple. Top it off with a nice gold rope belt and it is drool worthy!
Now I was ready for the unveiling! So at Faire Oaks Faire I was presented to Don Giovanni as a
gift, ( one that matched his pavilion) and the rest was history! All I could think was I HAVE A
PRETTY NEW DRESS! I HAVE A PRETTY NEW DRESS!
This is just gorgeous! I love the colour
combination, and that trim is wonderful - gives just the right effect on this
sumptuous gown. And doesn't it suit Jezabella beautifully! Brava!
If you would like to contact Jezabella you can
do so at
Aurora72383 (at) excite (dot) com.
Would you like
to be Showcased? E-mail